Tag Archives: Public Relations

“Why the Publicity Bubble in PR Begs Popping”

Today’s post was written by socialTNT contributing writer, Marie Williams.

There’s been talk lately about the PR pro’s evolution from publicist to social media strategist. While I wholeheartedly support the increased attention to social media, the underlying message is disconcerting. For too long, media relations and the hot pursuit of “ink” has been our reason for being. Let’s pop that bubble right now.

PR has never meant press relations, but to look at the industry’s widespread propagation of that mantra it would seem that is the case. How is it that we term ourselves publicists, when our true role encompasses so much more? Perhaps if we treated the industry as a more strategic practice instead of focusing on getting a stack of clips, we’d have more seasoned and capable professionals in the field instead of an army of cold callers smiling, dialing, and pissing off droves of journalists and bloggers in the process.

It’s interesting that despite the growth of social media and the decline of mainstream media, the importance of the latter has stayed virtually the same. There’s still a lot of resistance, most of all from PR professionals, to admit that traditional media relations is declining in importance and we live in a brave new world where social media is taking over.

A hit in the Wall Street Journal is a great coup and will no doubt cement the reputation of your brand with your consumers, your business partners, and your competition. But it’s becoming less and less valuable to the bottom line as social media grows exponentially in influence.

One example that continues to blow my mind is when a client of mine was included in a Thanksgiving-day GMA segment – a major accomplishment for our team. The client saw thousands of inbound leads occur as a result and was pleased as punch with the results.

Imagine his (and our!) surprise when a few months later, when we secured the client blog coverage on TMZ – which was still a relatively small celebrity-focused news site at the time – to phenomenal results that blew GMA’s out of the water. When a niche-focused Web site can bring in more bang than a nationally-syndicated morning show, you stop and pay attention.

The Internet tips the scales in favor of social media by making it far easier to track online coverage that leads to site traffic, leads from that traffic that convert into sales, and gauge customer opinions by participating in the online discussion.

Beyond online coverage’s potential for being far more successful than mainstream media coverage, the possibilities for community engagement is endless and gives companies a better chance than ever before of dialoguing with their most important publics: The end user. These direct-to-consumer conversations are arguably the most important for a company, and PR can strategize for and drive those conversations.

Social media provides PR professionals an opportunity to take back their rightful role as big thinkers, strategists and high-touch relationship builders, relegating media relations to a more modest (and arguably more deserved) position with the rest of a company’s key audiences.

It’s no wonder most clients still value the old school “ink” and pooh-pooh social media coverage as a lesser accomplishment when we so poorly represent ourselves as mere media lackeys. Yes, it’s time to expand beyond the publicist role, but in the process, we should realize that we never should have represented ourselves so narrowly in the first place.

Contributing writer Marie Williams also blogs at www.flackette.com about PR and agency life. Connect with her on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.

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[The above image, “POP!” by N1NJ4 on Flickr, used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Public Relations 2.0

“The Scarlet Letter”

I’ve been out sick for the past few days. When I get back, all heck has broken loose on the Internets.

Within the last week, a few bloggers and reporters have gone on rampages against “bad PR.” Does the punishment fit the crime? Is this a wake-up call? I’m not looking to stir things up, I just want to analyze the situation and see what we can learn from it.

The Times They Are a Changin…

Have you ever read an email, gotten really angry, hammered out a reply and hit send? A day later (or maybe 3 seconds later) you may have felt remorseful, but it was too late. Or what about those break-up emails that get circulated around? Each time I read about Mr X and his demeaning affair with Ms Y, I learned to wait a little bit longer before sending an email. This was part of the process of socialization as we grew into the Internet Age.

W ell, the times they are a changing. Now it’s socialization round two, but this time it’s not just email. It’s learning how to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any of the three social networks that have sprung up since I started typing this post. As in round one, there will be some blunders, some embarrassment, but when is it justified?

The Scarlet Letter

We’ve all done it: sent a reporter a bad pitch. Sometimes, not sure which particular reporter to pitch, we email an editor. Or maybe a boss made you use a pitch you weren’t happy with, but, HEY, it’s a job, right? Or sometimes you just miscalculate what a reporter will cover. It’s part of professional growth.

Well, some reporters are mad as heck, and they aren’t gonna take it anymore. Some get bad or poorly-focused pitches. In their blogs, reporters have posted full names and email addresses–or a name, Facebook address and picture. It suddenly feels like colonial times when criminals were forced to wear a letter or be shamed in a town square.

Ok, I’m not a super-star blogger, but I still get pitched. To those that are WAY off, I’ve emailed back “too commercial” or “not the focus of my blog.” It gets annoying, but I don’t want to humiliate anyone; they gave it a shot and they were wrong. In my mind, there are several unethical PR practices that deserve to be exposed and maybe shamed, but sending a bad pitch?

In my professional life, if I write a bad pitch, I hope the reporter lets me know. If I make a mistake, I’m sorry. We all have bad days.

As a blogger, I put myself out there to the world. People can email me, contact me through Facebook, repost my blog or talk about my bad grammar. By standing up to speak in a public forum, I expose myself. Even though this blog is a “hobby,” I put myself out into this forum and, to some extent, I become a public figure. I have given consent. Other PR professionals, however, are just doing their job.

The Internet has now become a record with pages being cached for years. It has also become a great place to stalk people. When you put someone else’s information online, it will be up there and available to anyone for a long time. Not everyone signs up for that.

Reporters and Bloggers: We value your feedback. We really do!! We listen and we adapt. I understand the impulse towards public outing may seem fulfilling, but just imagine if all your mistakes were broadcast to the world in perpetuity.

There are a few sites that expose bad pitches in a constructive manner without exposing personal information. They are quite effective. I read them weekly and have listed them in my blog roll. Your posts have just as much strength without calling specifics out.

In the words of Jerry Springer: “Be good to yourself…and each other!”

PS: Thanks to Marshall for apologizing and responding thoughtfully to comments and trackbacks. 🙂 Proof that people actually do engage in a conversation.

[UPDATE: Read my follow-up piece on blogger relations!]

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Filed under Blogger Relations, Citizen Reporter, It's A Conversation, New Media Masters., Rants

“Arachnophilia: Reformed Canabalistic Spiders Teach PR Pros Altruism”

 

Lake Tawokoni State Park rangers Mike McCord, left, and Freddie Gowin check out a giant spider web at the park.

Texas had one helluva rainy season this past summer and the spiders are LUVIN it. Instead of their usual solitary orbs, the spiders are spinning one giant, all-encompassing web. Various species of arachnids have come together to form communities, catch some buzz and then share files flies. Entomologists are rushing to be the first to dub this new era “Web 2.0.”

Sound familiar? Continue reading

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Filed under New Media Masters., Public Relations 2.0, Rants, Sharing is Caring

“My name is Chris and I’m, um, a PR professional.”

Public Relations pros have one of the most misunderstood professions.

Unless you’re in LA, you’re probably a little ashamed to tell people you do PR. Reporters hate us cause we bombard them with calls and spam their Inboxes. Our clients aren’t satisfied with the New York Times; they should have also been in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Fortune and what’s this TechCrunch? Hell, my family and friends are still confused as to whether I do marketing, advertising or journalism.

Well, to all of them, I’m coming out. Continue reading

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Filed under Rants