With the recent rise in social and digital work, it has been easy to forget the fundamentals of modern PR. As this blog post from social media monitoring tool Sysomos says, some brands don’t lend themselves to being social. But every brand needs PR because they all have a public, be it the traditional kind of mass market or something more niche like a group of investors. Every company is looking to influence/engage (choose which word you prefer; they both mean the same thing) with a group – that’s the fundamental bridge of making business work. It’s why the old phrase ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ still rings so true. And it’s why PR is still at the core of every business, whether they call it by that or another name. Here’s a recent example of how a PR disaster can decimate a business almost over night – in this case, social bookmarking service, Delicious.
Your business may not have the budget for a PR agency or may choose to keep the communications efforts in-house. Or you may use a PR agency, but have a limited understanding of how it all works. Even if you’re not the one making the phone call to a journalist or other influencer, you need to know the rules of the game. And these rules have changed over the last couple of years. Here’s what I’ve learnt about making the most out of PR.
If you think media coverage via journalists is the only end-goal in PR, you’re missing out on a whole heap of opportunities. If you can reach your target audience via an experiential marketing event, then do it. Who cares if it’s not traditional PR? Also, if you have a strategy session for the brand in question and you think media target before the idea itself, you’re never going to get the best results.
When making the call to anyone – journalist, client, colleague – it’s easier to assume they understand what you’re saying as well as you do. This may sound silly, but it happens all the time when people fly into the second level of description without any context for what they are talking about. In fact, I know it happens because I do it quite often myself. Don’t overdo it, but always explain the background before launching into ‘the sell’. Oh, and you typically have 10 seconds to do both bits.
Be able and open about working with other marketing entities, even if they offer some overlapping services. I’ve noticed, probably more so in New Zealand than in the UK, that media people are very protective of their clients. I understand this is because our industry is pretty volatile, but if being protective means you can’t work with the ad agency and get the best results for the client, that’s helping nobody in the long-run. I don’t care who I’m working with so long as everyone is open, honest and collaborative.
So, it’s not all about social this and digital that and we don’t all need to know the ins and outs of search marketing and web development; however, if you are involved in communications from the agency or client side and have no interest in the opportunities and challenges that online brings, you should look for a different career. I don’t use a variety of social media platforms for my personal life (with the possible exception of Facebook), I use them because I don’t want to explain the benefits to a client or colleague without genuine skin in the game. This doesn’t mean everything you touch turns to gold, but it does mean you can talk with some knowledge.
So, these are some of my key learnings from my career so far; what are yours?