By Jen Elving
Senior Public Relations Manager
PR is in desperate need of some PR right now. Many of us have heard corporate clients and executive committees tell us, “PR is worth a thousand ads.” And, it can be if it’s the right message with the right motivation in the right mix of disciplines. That said, a hostile economic climate changes and even blends the PR/advertising dichotomy greatly. When outlets are hemorrhaging advertising space and value-adds, we find the two separate disciplines are on a more equal playing field. Now is the time to be working with your ad department to ensure you maximize media buys, but also to avoid unclear or inconsistent messaging.
Everything has changed since I entered the profession at 22, save for one thing: relationships. That is the basis of what we do. That is the “how” and “why” we develop products and services. And if we’re not careful, this creative – at times attention-depleted – industry will end up focusing on what we’re not doing as opposed to what we should be doing. Social media! Guerilla tactics! iPhone apps! I’m not the first to observe that, as people, we just don’t want to miss an opportunity. But c’mon. Working with a limited (even reduced) budget means a brand can’t work every new vehicle and still be successful in its communication. PR practitioners need to pick up the phone and talk to media.
We need to worry about creating a way for consumers to communicate with us and we need to respond to them. Not every consumer is on Twitter and not every person wants to interact with a brand over Facebook. Your Youtube channel might not generate the type of interest originally thought. There is what a brand thinks it excels at, and what the audience thinks the brand excels at – and they usually don’t align. So, research and test and take time to develop the social media Trifecta, but don’t forget about the nuts and bolts of public relations.
Think outside the ad-equivalency box. If I were brilliant – and there is someone out there who is miles ahead of me – I would come up with the next metric for measurement. What is two minutes of a consumer’s time worth to a brand? How intimate is their interaction with the brand? Determine what is important to you in one year v. three years v. five years. How do you want to evolve your brand over that time? In thinking now about my 2010 goals, all I can muster is what increase over 2009 is realistic. Using my narrow-mindedness to your advantage, I recommend thinking about what tools, vehicles and nontraditional tactics you’ll use to reach those goals – or maybe, change them all together.
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Couldn’t agree more about measurement. PRSA’s new effort — Business Case for PR — focuses on measurement standardization. Check out http://www.prsa.org/businesscase. PRSA’s Measurement Task Force is working to help every PR professional tap into standard approaches to measure PR impact. Having standard measurement approaches will strengthen our efforts to make the much needed business case for PR.