February 22, 2009

A New Era for the PR Professional?

Posted in Industry Standards at 8:18 pm by SD

From the endless supply of snacks in the breakroom to the marketing budget, nothing is sacred as companies try to slash costs. However, one budget seems to be faring better in this recession (as compared to ones past where it was the first to go), public relations. Yes, you heard me right. Public relations budgets, while not increasing, are remaining strong and seem to be avoiding the chopping block.

This trend has a lot to do with members of the C-suite understanding the value of public relations, but I think there is another major factor playing a role here. Over the past several years, the PR practitioner/agency/department has learned to wear many hats.

Used to being short on budget and tall on items to accomplish, PR people have learned to do more with less – something that is necessary in a downturn.

Gone are the days when PR people only do media relations. Today’s successful PR pro not only does media relations but creates and executes new media strategies, creates content, develops thought leadership campaigns to position company executives, manages employee communications, ensures the company is staying true to its brand in all of its communications, coordinates events and much more while staying within or below budget.

The time where the PR person’s sole responsibility was writing press releases and doing media relations is dead.

We live in a new PR world where our role can change 10 times in an hour. You can be monitoring blog mentions one minute and discussing brand strategy the next. Don’t forget to throw in a little messaging, web copy drafting and event planning in there. Sound like a typical hour of your day?

Our ability to perform multiple tasks without missing a beat is exactly what makes us valuable in the economic downturn. We’re now the go-to people for all types of communications needs. It’s our job to step up to this challenge and prove our value in tough times. We’ve got to stay current on new trends, not just public relations but marketing, branding and advertising. We’ve got to understand how business works. That means knowing how to read a balance sheet, understand economics and be able to discuss the financial markets.

It’s a new era for the PR professional. Are you up for it?

I am.

~S

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February 18, 2009

Shooting Holes In PR 1.0 Practices

Posted in Social Media at 10:17 am by R

Ragan Communications did an excellent interview with David Pogue of the New York Times which helps shoot holes in a lot of PR 1.0 practices in light of the emergence of social media.

Watch the interview here.

The message is basically: if you don’t participate in social media conversation, you’re going to miss out on all conversation pretty quickly.

For many of PR practitioners there’s a lot of fear with accepting these new-fangled practices. In the 1.0 world, we were on top sending our message down to the masses. Now, with social media, we are all on the same level. There are as many messages coming back at us as there are strategic messages being sent out.

This lack of control is a reason for real fear for many communicators. But the benefits in participating and being transparent in the process are HUGE. It gives us an opportunity to speak as well as listen. That feedback is critical! That feedback helps us tailor our messages and speak more authentically to even more targeted audiences…how is that bad?

Sure, you may have to deal with a few “You suck” comments now and again. But now we can engage them. It’s not a faceless voice in the crowd. It’s an IP address…so at least we can narrow down the part of the country that dissenting voice is coming from. 🙂

Another reason for the fear is the technology associated with new programs, networks and functions. But there’s so much information out there on how to understand all of these applications that there’s no reason not to stay moderately up to speed.

Plus, programmers know that usability is key. Most of us aren’t tech geniuses and they know it. So to limit headaches all the way around, the functionality seems remarkably similar to many word processing programs. And those that aren’t have really big buttons and clear directions.

Social media knowledge is power! Be empowered.

As traditional media (Papers & Broadcast) continue to shift the bulk of their focus to the Web, so too should we! Relying on the tools of the past will only do a disservice to clients and (perhaps more importantly) our business models and livelihood.

We must, must, must be experts in this emerging media and extract the fear out of it for our clients and potential clients.

Welcome to PR 2.0.

~R

February 9, 2009

The Decline of MySpace

Posted in Social Media at 12:26 pm by R

Product placement is a powerful thing.

I saw He’s Just Not That Into You this weekend. Part of the plot includes dissecting all of the ways people try to connect and develop relationships.

MySpace gets picked on in the movie. One line, which ran in promotional commercials, goes like this:

Ouch! MySpace is the new booty call.

Not the kind of exposure that MySpace may have wanted…or maybe it is, I don’t know. I don’t do their PR.

One thing I KNOW MySpace can’t be thrilled about is a poignant scene toward the end of the movie in which a character deletes her MySpace account.

Another great example of how social media consciousness is on the rise in our popular culture and certain networks are getting branded…

~R