Posts Tagged ‘media relations’
For the past few months, there have been discussions in various PR communities regarding defining public relations and it seems to be a continual challenge. If PR theorists throughout he decades have different definitions*, it makes sense that the industry as a whole might be challenged to operate in one cohesive fashion.
Part of the challenge in defining PR, it seems, is that most companies, agencies and their practitioners consider PR the art of getting ink. Ink slingers, if you will. With such a huge misperception, we should be curious as to what other misunderstandings might be out there.
For this post, the working definition of PR will be:
Public relations is a management function that establishes and maintains two-way, mutual relationships and communications between an organization and the publics and stakeholders that often determine their success or failure. PR management includes on-going research, analysis, planning, and evaluation in order to understand, develop, and nurture strategic relationships.
Stakeholders are Publics, But Not All Publics Are Stakeholders
When PR is looked at as media (or blogger) relations only, a funny thing happens… Every reader begins to look like a potential customer (or donor, etc.). More ink equals more impressions equals more potential customers! (That philosophy usually adds up to a big ‘ol nothing if the only goal is revenue generation.)
It’s key in PR efforts to understand that not all publics are stakeholders. Stakeholders are the groups that have an actual stake in the organization: customers, donors, employees, students, shareholders, investors, etc. Publics are any group that might have a common interest or values in a given situation, but they do not have a stake in an organization. That certainly does not mean that other publics are not powerful groups.
Even More Goodness! Related Posts:
While Kami is taking time off to enjoy her new bundle of joy she’s ask Lauren, Shonali Burke ABC, Kellye Crane and me to guest post. Be sure to check ‘em all out! From stinging bees to sweating the small stuff to getting the message, there’re a lot of though provoking ideas and great conversation for sure!
Even More Goodness! Related Posts:
Yes, there’s another PR upheaval going on folks. By now I am sure you’ve heard about Michael Arrington’s Death to the Embargo post over at TechCrunch. If not, go take a read…I’ll still be here, pacing around while waiting to hop on my soapbox.
And after reading Valeria Maltoni’s post The Break up: PR and Media on News Embargoes and Jason Falls’ post Is the Future of Advertising Public Relations? (BTW, both excellent reads if you haven’t already), I felt the need to jump in and share my opinion.
What, you may be wondering, has me deciding to be vocal? Well, these two comments for starters:
Michael Arrington: “Tech companies are desperate for press and hammering their PR firms for coverage on blogs and major media sites. That in turn means that PR firms hammer us to get us to write about their clients.”
Jason Falls: “I say new-fashioned because old-fashioned is sending blast emails to hundreds of media outlets or bloggers and calling it a day. New-fashioned is reaching out personally to individuals to build a relationship and working with them to meet their needs and yours in symbiotic fashion.”
Fail! As in F-.
It’s the PR agency’s or internal PR person’s job to educate and advise the client or company on how to best reach any media outlet whether it’s print, on-line or a blogger. And this includes being able to stand up and just say no. If you don’t have the courage it takes to say no to pitching the wrong publications or outlets, to say no to CEOs and VPs who want to see their name in print for no other reason than vanity, to say no to spamming anyone, anywhere… you really need to rethink your career. You ARE the trusted advisor and you ARE the voice of the client/company and you ARE tarnishing both by not saying no (within reason and when it’s most important, of course).
It’s the PR agency’s or internal PR person’s job to build the necessary AND trusting relationships with journalists, reporters, blogger, etc. This isn’t anything new. This is, um, public “relations.” How difficult is it to understand YOUR audience/community? To read their articles or blogs? To learn how they think, understand what makes them tick? Know the industry and respect that they are stretched way thin and always awaiting a pink slip. How about giving them what they need so they might return the favor one day? Really, you don’t have an hour or two a week for relationship building? And if you work for an agency or company that won’t let you take the time to build relationships or understand the people you need to reach out to, you need a new job.
I should point out that the ‘fail’ isn’t reflective of Michael or Jason…just the notion of the comments. I know, trust and highly respect Jason. These comments are just symptomatic of what’s going on in our industry.
PR people, please step up and stop the madness!
Do you know how many years I have been hearing these complaints from journalists, reporters, etc? Seriously, Michael Arrington isn’t new to the complaint department; he’s just overly vocal because he has a line of people willing to take a ticket and listen to him. And this certainly isn’t a new challenge because of the advent of social media or blogger relations. Ask any print or online journalist and they’ll tell you the same thing. They have had this same issues for years. How have they responded? By deleting your e-mails, ignoring your calls and throwing out your packages. (Oh, and now, those on Twitter want a pitch in 140-characters a la TwitPitch. How’s that for pressure?!)
Oh yeah, and remember Whack-a-Flack (circa 2001)? I am sure anyone who’s been in this business longer than a blogger does (seriously it was all the buzz!). In case you aren’t familiar with it, here’s the introduction:
Tired of pushy PR flacks and overzealous young account execs huffing breathlessly over the virtues of the next Useless.com? Feeling bombarded by inane hype? Here’s your chance to give them a taste of their own… media kit.
Choose the PR agency that you’d like to give some comeuppance to. Let us know why they’re being whacked. Then have at ‘em with our Whack-a-flack Shockwave game.
My, how nothing has changed.
What are your credentials Beth Harte?!
Yeah, I know what some of you might be thinking. Who is Beth Harte and who the hell is she to tell the PR industry what to do?!
I’ve never worked for an agency. I’ve always been on the corporate side (until now). I’ve worked for companies where I was the PR lead (i.e. pitching, developing relationships, and writing all by my lonesome) and I’ve worked for the companies where I managed PR agencies and internal PR processes (private, public and a Fortune 500). I also teach PR at Immaculata University.
In case you are wondering if I can walk the walk, well, let’s just say I’ve almost lost my job twice for saying no on more than one occasion. In fact, given that I was eventually laid off from both those jobs, I’d venture a guess to say it had something to do with it. And I am okay with that…it’s called having professional integrity (and I take the PRSA Code of Ethics seriously).
I’ve carried media relationships with me from job-to-job and well, for obvious reasons, it’s very helpful. I’ve also been at the end of a journalistic rifle more than once. Having relationships in place helped neutralize potential crisis situations and spared me from being shot, fired or both.
Last thoughts while on the soapbox and before I duck flying arrows…
Folks, bad PR practices spread like a virus. And make no mistake our industry has always been infected…it’s just a virus under a giant microscope now and that’s not going to change.
And before you start loading the bow, let me just say that there are A LOT of agencies and PR people who are doing it right, they understand and respect the importance of relationships. (Example, Tim Hurley of Blue Point Venture Marketing who pitched me on his client’s latest news. Tim sent me a TwitPitch followed up by an e-mail.) As well, there are bloggers who don’t skewer PR folks for that day’s shish kabob lunch. The challenge is that we all need to work together to change the industry.
I know it’s a hard pill to swallow, but journalists and bloggers need to educate PR folks on how to get it right. And PR folks need to listen to them, HEAR what they are being told, and put it into practice (immediately, if not sooner).
Jumping off the soapbox for now, but sticking around to hear your thoughts. Can we pull this change off together?
P.S. Oh yeah, please don’t tell me what an arrogant ass Arrington (alliteration not intentional, it just is) is. Really. Pretty please? This isn’t about him. This is about opening up a conversation to make the PR industry, hopefully, move in the right direction. Maybe I’d have better luck with an ocean liner…