There’s been a lot of talk lately about public relations. The death of PR, the redefining of PR, and the stress of the profession. PR is getting a lot of negative press. It’s time to stop debating the past and take action to regain respect.
“PR has the biggest PR problem of all: people use it as a synonym for BS.”
Says Doc Searls (@dsearls),
“It seems only fair to defend the profession, but there is no point to it. Common usage is impossible to correct. And frankly, there is a much smaller market for telling the truth than for shading it. Maybe it is time to do with PR what we do with technology: make something new — something that works as an agent for understanding rather than illusion. Something that satisfies both the emperors and their subjects. God knows we’ve got the material. Our most important facts don’t need packaging, embellishment or artificial elevation. They only need to be made plain. This may not win prizes, but it will win respect.”
7 Ways PR can regain respect
1) United We Stand; Divided We Fall
Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman, says,
“Our goal will be to elevate public relations as a management discipline that sits as a full partner alongside finance, operations, legal, marketing and strategic leaders in the C-suite. We need to offer coherent strategy. We must work together or we will fall short.”
Integration between all communications, marketing and business channels is key to the success of a brand. Working side by side, strategies should touch on elements of each channel to form a united front. Small start-up or a publicly held corporation, mom & pop business or international celebrity; the road to success is paved with integration. Just do it!
2) Too Little, Too Late
fashionably late doesn’t exist in PR! Time is of the essence. Long lead? Forget it. This is a digital world where information moves at the speed of light. This means having the right people in the right place at the right time with the right knowledge and authority to respond. Without it you will be late to the party and doing yourself and your client a disservice. Timing is no longer negotiable. TCB.
3) More Than Words
Content goes far beyond press releases, speeches, and pitches. Today content is audio, video, podcasts, webcasts, email, eBooks, blogs, and social media posts (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg). Think about your story in a digital way. Multidimensional content marketing is the way to transform your words into content capable of reaching a larger audience. But, don’t expect them to come to you – communicate to them where they are in a language they understand by diversifying your content.
4) A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words
It’s time to update traditional writing skills with digital mindsets. Words are more important than ever. SEO and SEM are as important as the story you’re telling. All content (pitches, releases, video, photos – everything) should be optimized for search engines. SEO shouldn’t take away from the facts, story, or pitch, but it will help get your story in front of the right people.
Make the story visible; make it easy to find. Learn about keywords and SEO. Use this knowledge to enhance your writing and to bring your images to life.
5) Get Real
Richard Edelman calls this “Practicing Radical Transparency.” Being authentic starts with strategy, extends to clients, and doesn’t stop until it reaches employees, shareholders, media and anyone else listening.
In a speech delivered the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) Edelman said,
“We are the last line of defense for the truth, because our material is increasingly used as primary source data. We also must be scrupulous about policing our own behavior and even what we pass along in social media.”
Transparency builds trust. Trust builds relationships. Relationships build respect. Be real, be truthful, be scrupulous – no exceptions.
6) Free Your Mind
Expand imagination. Expand creativity. Expand your strategy. PR is guilty of living in the past; of being chained to traditional rules.
In “The 2015 Digital Marketing Rule Book – Change or Perish” Avinash Kaushik (@avinash) says,
“How good can it possibly feel to do unimaginative things that barely even worked on TV/radio/magazines/catalogs? Whether you are the Marketer/CMO or the Web Analyst/Ninja, it is imperative that we unleash imagination. Why doesn’t everyone do that already? I know that this sounds utterly simple but we, people and companies, don’t always realize that the “rules” have changed.”
The rules have changed. PR has spent the past 100 years arguing with itself about what the rules and definitions are anyway. Public relations professionals are doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Why not free your mind and venture into a world of truly creative and innovative PR?
7) Deadly Sins
Gone are the days when journalists waited by fax machines and office phones for leads on the latest news. They are searching the internet, connecting on social networks, using smartphone apps and getting the latest headlines in realtime. All of this actually makes it a great time to be in PR. According to Amanda Marsh (@AmandaNMarsh) there are “Seven Common PR Sins to Avoid.” Her post is a must read and stresses respect.
“Respect my inbox, and make both of our jobs easier.”
To regain respect, respect others. Brush up on your R-E-S-P-E-C-T and see if some of it doesn’t come back your way.