When this blog was originally launched it was created a my own (semi) private experiment, so now that it is nearing it’s end (Sun Setting on Paul Roberts on PR) here is a quick look at some blogging lessons learned. and while I refuse to tell anyone how to run their PR program, no self-serving blog would be complete without some ‘how would I do it’ tips.
Anyone in the service industry side of communications (consultants / agency) knows that comms programs are rarely a one-size-fits-all solution, so I’m approaching the following as WPRWD – What PR Would Do – if he (yes, me) were in charge of the corporate communications program.
Don’t ditch that blog. In the last few months especially, there have been many report about the decline of blogging as part of a corporate communications strategy, but I’d encourage companies not to abandon this powerful and highly controlled communications vehicle. There are many ways to do blogging well, and unfortunately there are also even more ways to do it poorly. Acknowledge that blogging is hard and it is important and create a plan accordingly. The key here is to have a hands-on communications professional that believes in the importance of blogging and can sell it to the necessary thought leaders and stakeholders.
Don’t be a snob about paid media. Especially if you work on the agency side of PR, it is easy to dismiss advatorials and other paid placements as ‘one of those cheesy pay-for-play things.’ But, these are not to be dismissed out of hand. Paying for speaking slots, editorial coverage, report sponsorships etc. may not be in everyone’s budget, but if done properly a little budget can go a long way. The key here is simply to be open to the idea. Experiment with different approaches.
Create content. Despite all the changes in the communications industry over the last few years, one element has and will remain constant. Words are important. Press releases, pitches, posts, tweets, videos, speeches, infographics, whitepapers, content marketing, brand journalism, these all use words. Creating content needs to an emphasis to a communications program. My approach would be to make content creation a specific element of the corporate communication plan. Not run solely by marketing, but a more holistic corporate approach.
Coordination and organization. This sounds simple, but the point being made here is that while many of these tips are about content creation, it needs to be noted that communications is not to be approached as a creative writing exercise. Even the best, most creative and well thought out PR program will fail to reach its full potential if constructed and conducted in a vacuum. The key here is to have a communications professional with insight and influence into ALL aspects of the communications program – marketing, PR, social, internal, external, branding, paid, earned, SEO, sales etc.
Lead PR from within. Just because an organization may outsource its PR, doesn’t mean that the corporate contact isn’t important. No matter how closely an organization works with a PR firm and no matter how good that PR firm is, the PR program can only be as successful as the client will allow. All too often companies believe that anyone can manage the PR function, but that is simply not true. This internal contact is especially important when the PR program includes social media, crisis communications and thought leadership.
Social starts from within. Related to the above social media too should be led from within. All things being equal (budget, time, resources etc.) my approach to social media depending on the size of the company, culture, business goals etc, would be along the lines of hiring a consultant (a good internal comms person can do this too) to provide assessment of the current social media activities, draft a indoctrination plan to recruit and train / provide guidelines to employees and then get out of the way. A corporate comms controlled Twitter feed alone isn’t social.
And finally, a couple of quick reminders.
- It is okay to fail. Sometimes, the best lessons learned come from trying something new that doesn’t work out. Communications is changing too rapidly right now to be overly conservative. Calculated risks are okay. Experimenting is okay. Not all ROI is immediate.
- Have some fun. Relax. Communications is serious business, but it is also about people, relationships, information exchange etc. Even the most serious companies would be well served to have communications people who are personable and dare I say, have a sense of humor.
- When in doubt, ask What Would PR Do?
- In the immortal words of Dwayne F. Schneider, always remember and don’t ever forget, free advice (like this blog) is often worth exactly what you paid for it, so take all free advice with a grain of salt.
Photo comes from private collection that my son dared me to use in a blog post.
Some interesting conversations came from last week’s assertion (by me) that PR in a vacuum sucks, so let me clarify a few items. While the main point was pretty straight forward, it left a few questions unanswered.
So, what is so bad about operating in a vacuum anyway? Well, nothing I suppose. There are plenty of opportunities for PR folks and agencies to represent clients that desperately need some PR help – even if (maybe especially if) these companies don’t know how to help themselves. This post isn’t about trashing companies that don’t commit to their own PR program, nor is it about criticizing agencies for taking on these clients. This is really designed to shed some light on the fact that as much as we (the PR industry) like to discuss the power of PR and what it takes to be a good client, we rarely discuss the consequences of a program that is operating in a vacuum. This leads to the next obvious question. Read more…
Recently there have been a number of blogs and articles that discuss how companies should treat their PR firm in order to get the best results. Many of these tips are usually hard to argue basics such as: treat the PR firm as an extension of the client’s marketing department, provide open flow of communications, respect the agency’s advice, and work together to establish realistic goals.
As a man of relatively few words, let me simplify this – public relations shouldn’t be conducted in a vacuum. This means all of the above teamwork-related elements and also includes the need to have corporate oversight of PR in the hands of someone tied into the company’s goals.
Well this sounds like an obvious statement, let’s take a look at the signs that PR is working in a vacuum. Read more…
Recently, the case was made (by me) that social media may be bad for PR (agencies). The premise – which I still stand by as valid – was that social media would be run in-house and that would lead to more companies moving their entire communications’ departments (including PR) in-house.
But, because I don’t even agree with me all the time, here is an alternative look at the impact of social media on public relations.
Premise: As social media becomes more important to business communications, organizations will turn to professional communicators to navigate this rapidly evolving channel. The professionals most applicable to handle the task may just be PR agencies.
Is social media important to business communications? Yes, of course, and its impact and importance are growing everyday. Even for B2B technology companies – by many accounts the late adopters of social media – having a strong social presence is akin to having a website in circa 2000. If all your competitors are doing it, and your customers expect it, then adopt or be left behind. Read more…
Most of the space on this blog has been taken up defending old-school public relations. I’ve argued against those that declared the death of the press release and the demise of public relations, (although I have admitted that I’m no longer in public relations) but there is a current trend that has me wondering if we are nearing the beginning of the decline – not of public relations, but of – outsourced public relations.
Now, I’m not smart enough or connected enough to the PR agency business leaders to have the insight to present credible data or point to the industry trend lines, but you’ve come this far, so stick with this premise for a few minutes (and questions) and tell me if you think I’m off base.
Premise: Social media is important to business communications and as organizations build their communications department to adapt to the need for integrated communications, we will see a shift toward more in-house public relations.
Is social media important to business communications? While everyday there are new articles, blogs and stats about the ROI of social media, the larger question has been answered. Sure, social media engagements and strategy is still in its infancy stage for many organizations, but the bottom line is that it is too powerful and ubiquitous to ignore. Answer: Yes, social media is important to business.
If you are visiting this blog – and you are – you are probably interested in reading about Public Relations, Social Media and Communications, so here is a resource worth checking out.
Public Relations 2011 Issues Insights Ideas is an ebook project that is the brainchild of Craig Pearce. Craig, who is a favorite of this blogger, is an accomplished PR / communications professional currently running his own consultancy.
I was honored that Craig asked me to contribute to this project and truly humbled when I realized the caliber of the other contributors.
The report features articles by 11 authors – 10 industry leaders (and me) – from all over the globe including Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada, the U.S., England and Australia and is freely available to email subscribers of Craig Pearce’s blog, Public relations and managing reputation.
Craig said that he put the report together as he wanted to collect some smart thinking in a single location from intelligent global peers that would be of use to PR professionals.
As I read the rest of the content, I expect that I’ll provide additional commentary regarding my fellow authors’ work, but I’m a slow reader, so don’t wait for me. A free copy is available from Criag’s blog – Public relations and managing reputation.
DISCLOSURE: For those of you looking for full disclosure that I’m positioned to make millions from this project and therefore have a vested interest in its success, keep looking. While I hope this project has positive results for Craig, for me it was simply an honor to be considered worthy of inclusion. Of course, don’t get me wrong I’ll let Craig buy me a beer or two for my trouble.
Illustration provided by Pennington & Co.
No, not diversity in gender, or race or even political views, I mean we need more corporate PR folks involved in the conversation.
Over the past several months I’ve met some very smart PR professionals and have had some very interesting conversations via blogs and Twitter. But something was missing from the conversation. In real life you can’t get a bunch of (experienced) PR people together without eventually having the conversation turn to which delivers more value PR agencies or in-house PR departments.
There are two potential answers for this lack of agency vs in-house discussion:
- Agency vs in-house is a taboo subject that people are afraid to talk about. Not likely.
- There simply are not enough dissenting opinions for a dialog. This gets my vote. Read more…
Last week the PR industry suffered yet another black eye when a dust up between a PR firm and a journalist cost the reporter his job, but the real damage may have been inflicted by the industry’s silence.
The short version of the story is that a PR guy aggressively pitched a journalist and the journalist – Chris Dovi – wrote an email (using the F-word) to his editor and accidently sent the email to PR guy. The PR guy published the email in an attempt to further promote his client – a blind motivational speaker. The PR firm published a blog about the incident, but removed the post after it received a steady stream of negative comments targeted toward the agency and the PR industry. Apparently ‘Page Not Found’ is the PR industry’s new ‘No Comment.’
The unfortunate (and edited) quote from Dovi’s email:
“This guy is trying to kill me. He may be the most tenacious flack of all time. He’s been calling me about this blind fu@#er for four weeks. …He’s making me want to claw my own eyes out in the hopes that if he won’t just get lost, I at least won’t have to look at his press release anymore!” Read more…
I’ve been in public relations as a student or a professional for almost 20 years, but I still struggle with the simple question, ‘what do you do for a living?’ Let’s face it PR has a bit of a…well, PR problem. Some think of PR as ‘spinsters’ some think of personal ‘handlers’ and the number one answer – ‘oh, you’re in advertising.’
Truth be told, I’m part of the problem because when I meet new people at a social gathering, I usually don’t care enough to educate these people about what I do. My answer is all too often, yeah, advertising exactly – now let’s talk about something less controversial like politics and religion. This approach is of course part of the reason I don’t get invited to too many social events, but that is a discussion for another day.
I was wondering why it is so difficult for people to grasp what PR people do for a living, so I decided to look at the world of PR from an outsiders point of view.
A quick news search for ‘public relations’ reveals articles about how NBC’s PR team mishandled the Jay Leno show moving time slots. The entire point was how badly the situation was communicated and how ill-informed the entire organization seemed to be.
Ok, so public relations is about communications. Got it. Simple. Read more…
Thanks to tweets from @Steveology I came to read ZAC’s (Zachary Adam Cohen) recent blog post PR Firms: Zombie Wasteland and I couldn’t type a reply quickly enough and in fact long before I started to type I realized that Jules Zunich had already posted a very thoughtful reply. So if you want a thoughtful reply see her piece. The below is a bit of a rant, but it will make me feel better. I actually thought twice about posting a reply at all when I realized that clearly Zac wants some attention for his piece – which is why he said he is: ‘totally expecting to get my head ripped off on some of my claims…so have at it’ but then I realized that this is an interesting topic and while I am not a head-ripper, there are a few points that can’t go unchallenged.
- @markgdaly haha...how are you doing? Everything good? I biked 25 miles the other day (street riding) will try trails soon. Talk soon. 1 week ago
- If is doesn't trigger a Google Alert is it news coverage? #justasking 1 week ago
- My fortune cookie just paraphrased Rody Roddy Pipper..."you always have the right answers: they just sometimes ask the wrong questions." 1 week ago
- @lzone no problem. No still PR / Comms, but I never talked about clients or tech here, but may now with new gig. 1 week ago
- And thanks... RT @lzone @PaulRobertsPAR (PS Congrats on the new gig!) 1 week ago
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