Interview with Deirdre Breakenridge, Author of “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations”

Metzger’s Doyle Albee has an interview with author Deirdre Breakenridge, who with Brian Solis wrote Putting the Public Back in Public Relations: How Social Media is Reinventing the Aging Business of PR. Here is an excerpt of that interview (you can read the entire interview on Metzger’s “Media in the Millennium” blog):

Doyle Albee: What one common PR practice would you like to see stopped immediately?
Deirdre Breakenridge: For too long, public relations professionals have been accepting corporate broadcast messages that are pushed from the top down.  We’ve also contributed to taking these messages and crafting news releases riddled with hype, spin and industry jargon that doesn’t make sense to anyone except for the executives who approved them.
There’s a much better approach; it’s a bottom up strategy that consists of listening to customers and other stakeholders in their web communities and then providing the story and information that is customized to their needs.  Today, PR professionals must help brands to see that they can have direct conversations with their customers, if and only if they stay away from the meaningless broadcast messages.  Brands must focus on helping people to gather, share and organize information to make informed purchases.  I would like to see PR professionals put the public back in public relations and that means abandoning a broadcast message mentality and truly taking a one-on-one approach that lets you listen and engage with people to build a strong relationship.
DA: What positive practice do you see many practitioners still doing too little of?
DB: There are PR professionals who are solely relying on Internet and social media communications rather than picking up the telephone to talk to the media or other important influencers.  Technology makes it so easy to forget about the human voice connection.  However, it’s critical to take all of the digital connections and turn the virtual into physical reality.  After all, the best outcome of social networking is a meeting with a blogger or influencer, whether it’s on the telephone or in person.
Human interaction will always be the most important means to truly build a relationship, which takes time and commitment.  Sure, a lot of progress can be made via the Internet.  For example, Brian Solis and I wrote our entire book without ever meeting in person.  There was a lot of email and IM back and forth as well as social networking.  But, the bottom line… when we met in person that’s when the relationship grew and reached new heights.  Today, Brian and I are on the telephone, at conferences presenting together and working both online and offline to promote our book.
So, as practitioners, although we have to keep up with our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn status updates, it’s imperative that we move these interactions forward.  Pick up the phone or meet in person; that’s the point where the friendship is validated and it becomes even stronger.

Doyle Albee: What one common PR practice would you like to see stopped immediately?

Deirdre Breakenridge: For too long, public relations professionals have been accepting corporate broadcast messages that are pushed from the top down.  We’ve also contributed to taking these messages and crafting news releases riddled with hype, spin and industry jargon that doesn’t make sense to anyone except for the executives who approved them.

There’s a much better approach; it’s a bottom up strategy that consists of listening to customers and other stakeholders in their web communities and then providing the story and information that is customized to their needs.  Today, PR professionals must help brands to see that they can have direct conversations with their customers, if and only if they stay away from the meaningless broadcast messages.  Brands must focus on helping people to gather, share and organize information to make informed purchases.  I would like to see PR professionals put the public back in public relations and that means abandoning a broadcast message mentality and truly taking a one-on-one approach that lets you listen and engage with people to build a strong relationship.

DA: What positive practice do you see many practitioners still doing too little of?

DB: There are PR professionals who are solely relying on Internet and social media communications rather than picking up the telephone to talk to the media or other important influencers.  Technology makes it so easy to forget about the human voice connection.  However, it’s critical to take all of the digital connections and turn the virtual into physical reality.  After all, the best outcome of social networking is a meeting with a blogger or influencer, whether it’s on the telephone or in person.

Human interaction will always be the most important means to truly build a relationship, which takes time and commitment.  Sure, a lot of progress can be made via the Internet.  For example, Brian Solis and I wrote our entire book without ever meeting in person.  There was a lot of email and IM back and forth as well as social networking.  But, the bottom line… when we met in person that’s when the relationship grew and reached new heights.  Today, Brian and I are on the telephone, at conferences presenting together and working both online and offline to promote our book.

So, as practitioners, although we have to keep up with our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn status updates, it’s imperative that we move these interactions forward.  Pick up the phone or meet in person; that’s the point where the friendship is validated and it becomes even stronger.

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