Putting the ‘Public’ back in PR

I said pubLIC….

So I’ve been reviewing a lot of articles about “why PR is important”, “what is PR”, etc.

Most offer a good understanding of this diverse area of expertise but often only touch on tactics like Media Releases, Press tours, Trade shows, Product shots (and sometimes) Social Networking … but what I found interestingly lacking was mention of the word PUBLIC when describing PR?

As per my website (soon to be refurbished btw) a crucial part of Public Relations for many SMBs is actually centred around your corporate image and relationship with your immediate public, neighbours and community.

In addition to reaching “as many eyeballs as possible to get the word out about how your product is the greatest” !!!…. PR may also be micro-tailored to include strategies that support an organization’s foundation and its roots.

Let’s say your company’s intention is to gain (or sway) support of a specific group or outlet upon which your success depends (investors, government, industry, community leaders) . A PUBLIC Relations campaign may include things like:

  • Developing a multi-level outreach strategy to specific persons or organizations.
  • Create a mini-campaign or separate event (socially, internally) to build following and likeability among similar groups to the one you are targeting.
  • Maintaining a consistent image and message in front of key audiences – speaking, media, other.
  • Fostering relationships / setting up meetings with influencers and change makers in local communities.

The word ‘public’ is also the number of different “audiences” on which your organization depends for its success, such as:

  • Thought leaders
  • Activists
  • Sponsors/Investors
  • Partners
  • Customers…

Each requires their own key messages to be driven home in order to gain their respect and support.

(… and we wonder why it is SO hard to answer when someone asks – “PR – so what does that involve.” … Got an hour?)

What do you think? Do you often consider these micro-publics in your PR strategy? Or are you focused on the big three – MEDIA, FACEBOOK and TWITTER?

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Media zombies and PR BBQ sauce

zombies

So picture the media as a pack of zombies. They are on a mission and are laser focused on one story – Braaaaiiinnnsss.

You are an innocent bystander who hasn’t gotten bitten yet, but you’d love to be on their radar and experience the chase. You do have certain elements of what they are looking for; human flesh, interesting scent – but you lack that enticing …. ‘clincher’ that will get them chasing you down an alley.

Braaaiiinnnsss!

Then you think, BBQ sauce! Kinda looks like blood (gross, but stay with me). So you douse a little over your head and make your way to the street.

This entices the zombies. Braaaaiiinnnnss? and they start sniffing your way. Some are curious and come closer to take a look. Excellent!!

But soon, they discover that what you are putting forward is only LOOSELY what they need and now you have wasted their time in getting….. what?

Braaaiiinnnsss!!!

Well, they could let you go on your merry way (unlikely) or they could be so perturbed by your deception that they decide to tear you limb from limb anyway and soon forget about you on the side of the road. Not the experience you were hoping for at all! the end.

So… what have we learned here?

It is rare in the PR world to have your client’s story and mission happen to brush shoulders with one of the hottest scandals-of-the-hour to hit the Canadian (and Global) circuit.

So it could be tempting to align oneself with the news story of the day even though the mission and message doesn’t exaaaactly match up. But when the media come sniffing only to discover that you have misrepresented yourself or wasted their time by trapping them into a sales pitch – they can react one of two ways:

1. Put your name on a list called ‘opportunistic sales hounds, don’t call back, ever’

2. Decide that they are so desperate for a link to the real story that they push you around in a media interview and back you into a spot that you or your public relations team can have a hard time getting you out of.

THE LESSON: Please don’t use BBQ sauce to attract a zombie – it will end badly.

*no actual clients were harmed in the creation of this story.