Because I’m always thinking about PR, I thought it might be fun to share some random musings on our topic of choice. Some of these will become full-on blog posts. Others, not so much, but hopefully, even the fleeting thoughts spark something in someone out there.
So, without further ado, as the first installment of a weekly series, I’m proud to present: 5 Thoughts for 5 Days — Random PR Thoughts of the Week!
- The PR function needs to utilize a more proactive approach to brand reputation management and protection. Yes, we’ve always been a go-to resource when crisis strikes, but with new technologies leading to new ways of connecting with brand fans and champions, can we proactively build enough brand equity to withstand a momentary crisis? Traditional PR and social media engagement do this, but in the future, we’ll need to go further in order to properly insulate the brands we represent. We need to think about review sites and forums too, for example.
- The blurred lines between PR and Advertising are a big opportunity! As I watch some of the Cannes Lions case studies, I’m consistently struck by just how much the proverbial lines that once separated PR from Marketing and/or Experiential activations have been blurred. This seems to be true right around the world! Every single one of the 2016 winning campaigns could have been a PR program developed by a creative PR agency. While this means that Ad agencies are in some cases competing with us, it also means that we get to compete with them. If we can convince brand managers to open their minds to working with a PR agency in a new capacity, our specialization in forging meaningful relationships with various publics will be a key differentiator that delivers powerful results.
- PR should own grassroots communication. We all want to make BIG, front-page news. We all want to ‘go VIRAL’. And PR pros do both exceedingly well. But if we’re looking for marketing communications white space, communicating to grassroots audiences is wide open. While our friends in marketing, advertising and media (buying) execute national campaigns, we can set ourselves apart by communicating to towns and villages instead of regions and provinces; to individuals instead of audiences. And yes, all you brand managers out there, a grassroots strategy would require a substantial commitment of time and dollars – but it would also pay off BIG time!
- PR agencies that refuse to say no make us all look bad. I completely understand and appreciate that a PR agency is a business. We all need paying clients to keep the lights on. To that end, it’s hard to turn down any paying customer. This leads too many agencies to accept projects despite knowing, right from the start, that they will be challenged to achieve positive results. Inevitably the clients footing the bill for these less-than-stellar executions are unhappy and tell their business colleagues about their negative PR experience. That’s why I’m always open and upfront with potential clients. If we can’t deliver value, we act ethically and turn down business, knowing that the long-term value of trust will lead to long-term success. So, if you’re looking for a PR agency, one of the first questions I would ask every agency is: “Tell me about a time that you turned down a job and why.”
- There are still media out there willing to cover our stories, but we have to help them out by providing multiple ways in. Unlike advertising, we can’t dictate exactly how media relay our stories and messages. We might be able to convince one or two to tell it our way, but the reality is that if we want a lot of coverage, we need to provide plenty of windows , including multi-media content (e.g. infographics, video), for media to create their own unique story angle. If media relations is going to be part of PR in practice, we need to keep getting better at it… even after more than 100 years.
That’s it for this week, but I encourage you to share your PR thoughts in the comments below and on social media (be sure to tag me: @AdamSandersTO). After all, one of the primary reasons that I started PR for Today is to spark a conversation about the future of PR and how we get to where we’re going faster and all together!