Public Relations made easy.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Comment #4

My comment is in response to :  THE 7 ELEMENTS OF "GOOD" PR

Hi Todd,

I really enjoyed your post.

I think that some people get so obsessed with tactics that they don’t see the big picture. They can’t see the forest for the trees, so to speak. They rush the process.

Yes, you could do that, but do you really want to?
Are you targeting the right people?
How is your message going to be perceived by the public?
Is it even the right message?

In my opinion, not enough research and listening is the worst blunder by PR pros.

I think that we feel it’s expected of us to know all the answers right away. Tell me your PR problem and I’ll give you an answer.

It doesn't work that way. You need to be able to listen, ask questions and walk away from your client.

After some careful thought and research, then you can come back with a tailor-made solution that will satisfy everybody.

(If course, in times of crisis, you give the best advice you can and hope for the best!)

Comment #3

My comment is in response to :  Newsjacking: When is it appropriate? 

I think it’s fairly simple.

Newsjacking is (pretty much) only appropriate when the event is either neutral or good news. If it's a tragic event, newsjacking could be acceptable if your client/company is asked for its expert opinion. Even then, it’s a short drive into opportunistic-land.

For example, during Hurricane Sandy, Sears tweeted the following message: “Did Hurricane Sandy affect your city? Get your generators, air mattresses & more in one place.”

They got some flak over it. Was it opportunistic?

As one person responded to Sears’ tweet: “Poor taste trying to make a buck off people that have lost everything in #HurricaneSandy, dontcha think? #newsjerking #poortaste.”

I don’t think their intention was evil but it was off the mark. Somebody in advertising wrote that message when someone in PR should have written it. Had Sears been my client, I would have advised against tweeting a message altogether. Had Sears insisted, I would have suggested something like this: “To those affected by Hurricane Sandy: we have generators on sale. Store hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. #staysafe.”

In this type of situation, any messages should strive to inform, not persuade.

Comment #2

My comment is in response to : Using Humor in PR

Hello Elena,

I enjoyed your post. You made some very insightful comments.

I think humor is a powerful tool in the public relations toolbox. I also agree that self-deprecating humor is usually the safest route.

Another recent example of a company capitalizing on an unexpected opportunity is Bodyform, a UK-based company that sells feminine hygiene products. When a man posted a tongue-in-cheek comment on their Facebook page, they responded a week later by producing a funny video. In a six-day span, it’s been viewed 2,735,454 times. To see their Facebook page, click here. The cost to make the video is minimal when compared to the world-wide exposure they’ve gotten for it. It took someone with creativity to dream up the concept and a management team with spirit to get behind it.

People embrace humor. They seek it out. They forward it, post it, tweet it, instagram it.

That being said, humor is definitely not for all companies and of course it comes with risks, especially when not properly executed. It takes a gentle hand to guide it.

Comment #1

My comment in response to : PRNewser - American Airlines had a terrible week in PR by Patrick Coffee 

Bad move on AA’s part, no doubt about it.

Problem is - and I ask speak from experience here - that Customer Service Agents are quite often given very little leeway by management.  Their very employment with the company is threatened should they make exceptions.

What you see as a customer: “What an unsympathetic agent.”

What you don’t see: “I feel terrible for this person. I wish I could make an exception but I just can’t afford to lose my job”.

What’s the solution?

I think better training is the solution. I think front-line agents should feel comfortable to make judgement calls. I’d like to think that in this particular instance, AA would have allowed the family to be reseated together without any additional fees but the agent was too scared to make that decision.

I think that too often, these agents are given too little training and, let’s face it, they ARE the company to the person who’s calling in. Agents need to think more like a PR pro and management needs to help them with that.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

On four-letter words and relationships

There are two things that have stuck with me after our first few Public Relations Fundamentals 1 classes.

First, PR is all about relationships.

I’ve been working in PR in one capacity or another for the last 10 years. I must admit, I’ve never really sat down and taken the time to articulate that thought but it’s something I’ve instinctively known for a long time. It’s about cultivating relationships with the public, the media, the stakeholders and the employees. It’s about listening to what the public has to say and then crafting your client’s message in a way that resonates with the public.

The second thing that stuck with me was our discussion of PR’s dirty little four-letter word: spin. 

When I think spin, I’m reminded of a scene in the movie Chicago. Richard Gere, playing a lawyer, “spins” the facts to the media regarding his client, RenĂ©e Zellweger, who’s been accused of murder. There’s a very strong visual of him manipulating the media. It's worth a look:

To be sure, this scene shows the ugly side of spin.

However, people spin, day in and day out, without even realizing it. Let me give you a simple example:

Wife says, “Honey, can we go to restaurant XYZ for dinner?”

“I don’t know. The last time we went there I wasn’t too impressed”, says Husband.

“I went there last week with my sister. Did you know it’s under new ownership now? They have a new chef and they’ve improved their parking. Also, there was a coupon in the newspaper today and it’s all-you-can-eat rib night tonight”, says Wife.

“Okay, let’s give it a try”, says Husband.

Husband just got spun. Does he know he got spun? More importantly, does he care?

He wasn’t in possession of all the facts. Wife supplied him the information he didn’t have - as wives are known to do - so that he could make an informed decision. She didn’t lie nor did she manipulate or stretch the truth. She presented the facts.

PR is about persuasion and perception. It’s about swaying public opinion. It’s not about control, it’s about telling your client’s story.