PR doesn’t stand for Press Release

An article in a UK newspaper last year claimed more public relations professionals (aka PRs) and fewer journalists threatens democracy.

As much as I’d love to wield that amount of power, I don’t think our profession can bring down a form of government that has been in existence for thousands of years.

The article was written by Roy Greenslade, a professor of journalism and former editor of the Daily Mirror. In it he focuses on the role of the PR to produce ‘’oven-ready’’ copy and states the 24 hour news cycle, demand for multimedia content, and fewer journalists will result in more PR driven stories.

Yet, media relations is just one aspect of PR and Greenslade’s article reveals a misunderstanding shared by many –believing the job of a PR is purely to put a spin on a story, either keeping bad news out of the media or putting a positive slant on it.

I won’t deny there is a certain truth to this, the number of ex-journalists employed by PR agencies shows there is some proof in the pudding, yet the role of a PR is much broader.

Our job is about enhancing the reputation of our employer or client to help deliver business success. This could take many forms, from sponsorship to develop community relations through to an internal communications program to motivate and engage staff.

We provide counsel to senior business leaders, encourage direct interaction with customers and, in many cases, are the driving force behind transparent communications.

For WA companies looking to hire a PR consultant, either in-house or via an agency, I urge you to consider these four things:

1. Be clear about what you want to achieve.

  • Determine your business objectives and be realistic about how PR will help achieve these.

2. Understand who you want to communicate to and what you want to say.

  • Clearly identify your target audience – general public is too broad – and have an understanding of what you would like to say to them.

3. Don’t just rely on the media to communicate with your target audience.

  • Is the media the most effective channel or could you communicate directly instead?

4. How will you measure your PR efforts?

  • A bunch of articles left in reception does not mean you were successful. Setting SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely – objectives at the outset will help determine this.

Next time you speak to your in-house PR or agency, just remember: PR doesn’t stand for Press Release.

This article was originally written by Rebecca Johnston for The West Australian.


Online PR – is it really about getting back to basics?

Retweets and fans, user generated content, citizen journalists – either music to your ears or a cacophony that makes no sense.

But, it can and must make sense.  The impact of social networking on the way we communicate and engage with our target audience is undeniable. It’s not future forecasting, it’s happening now.

Australians spend  more time visiting social networks and blogs  than any other developed nation in the world.  In one month alone, more than 10 million Aussies used Facebook, about 9.9 million visited YouTube, and around 1.6 million were on Twitter. (source).

Why does it matter? Aren’t people simply talking about their lunch or watching funny animal videos?

No. We’re going online and asking fellow internet users for opinions and information about products, services and brands.  We’re reading reviews, posting comments, liking brands or products.

This means the power has shifted to the consumer and the network of communities online who can influence the reputation of a brand and have a direct impact on sales.

For PR professionals it means forgetting the broadcast model of old and getting back to basics. Understanding your target audience, tailoring your message, listening to what your audience are saying and responding appropriately.

And your target audience want to participate. They want to know what is going on with new products or services. They’re demanding your openness and honesty. They may criticize you but they’ll also praise you publically.

If all this sounds too much, don’t panic. Here’s some hints and tips to get you started:

1. Gather intelligence. Get online and listen to what your customers, clients, employees, and suppliers are saying about your brand, or your product / service.

2. Determine if and how you will respond and build this into your communications strategy.

  • Don’t jump on board just because everybody else is doing it.
  • Choose the right platform. Facebook isn’t for everyone.
  • Define roles and provide guidelines for company involvement.
  • Make sure you have the resource to maintain momentum.

3. As part of your strategy, identify and prioritize content.  Look inside your business for information or advice that your target audience will value and share, for example:

  • Advice from an in-house specialist on product use that might make a great video.
  • A podcast to support that latest industry report.
  • A presentation explaining new technology that could be uploaded to Slideshare/

4. Don’t ignore traditional media and their own online efforts:

  • Find our which journalists or media outlets are using networks like Twitter. Follow them – listen, learn, look for opportunities.
  • Research the blogs or forums used by trad-media online that you could target.
  • Package your stories for online media with video and graphics content.

5. Update your issues and crisis communications strategies to include social media monitoring. And, if you have a social media presence, don’t forget to use this channel during a crisis.

6. Think about your customer service and how it might be improved via social media.

7. Optimize everything you do online.

Remember, just like Apple claims we’ll never stop doing the things we love, technology just allows us to do things differently.

This post was originally written for Linc Integrated