Posts Tagged ‘Public Relations’
Yes, yes, I know you’re all running to get your pitch forks so you can pull a Marie Antoinette on me. Hear me out…
The definition of authentic is pretty simple: not false or copied; genuine; real
I have been thinking about this a lot and recently had a few conversations with folks where I actually said it out loud. One of those places was the O’Reilly Twitter Boot Camp. I was sitting on a panel with Tony Hsieh (Zappos), Marla Erwin (Whole Foods), David Deal (Razorfish), David Puner (Dunkin’ Donuts) and someone asked a question (honestly, I forget what it was) and these words crossed my lips:
You know…PR’s never been authentic. In the past, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written a byline or press release (or my agency has) and after it shows up in print it’s only a matter of time before a co-worker (or a customer or a vendor) comes up and says, “that was a great article by John Smith…I didn’t know he knew so much about X, Y, or Z.” And then I have to tell them “Well, John didn’t really write it. I did (or the agency did). He had some input and reviewed it.”
Two comments inevitably happen after this exchange:
“I KNEW he wasn’t that smart!” (Usually from a co-worker that’s been trying to get ink or dislikes John Smith) OR “Wow, I am surprised… I thought our people were always writing these great articles.”
Either way, it’s been a lose-lose situation each and every time.
As these words crossed my lips at the Boot Camp I thought for sure my panelists and the attendees would disagree with me, but to my surprise, I saw nodding heads.
I know what you are thinking…I shouldn’t be telling people that John Smith didn’t write the article, it’s a standard PR practice that everyone knows about. But you know what? I can’t BS people and never have been able to. I am not going to lie and say someone wrote an article that they didn’t. Now, on the flip side…I’ve worked with many a co-worker that has written their own byline or provided tons of input and I give them all the kudos in the world.
What I am talking about here are the flat out bylines that someone’s name gets slapped on because they haven’t been “given ink” in a while or the press/news release that was fabricated because the VP of Marketing thinks it’s time for one.
Now, I know what you are thinking…that’s just a bad PR practice and I would agree. But I am also not naive enough to believe that it doesn’t happen.
Why has this been rattling around in my head? Because this false notion of PR authenticity is at the foundation of the ghost blogging and ghost tweeting debate and where it goes awry in the social media world.
I don’t know about you, but these days when I read an article, a tweet, or a blog post I want to know that the person’s name on the article is the person who actually wrote it (yes, yes, I know ghost writing has existed for-ev-ah). That it’s their experience, their emotions, their writing and tone. And if I find out that Jane Doe at an agency really wrote it, well all credibility is gone in an instant. And believe it or not, after a while you can tell someone’s style and tone and when it changes (Um, Oprah book club anyone?!).
In our new PR 2.0/social media world I believe people expect authenticity…especially when they are used to it. When they read a tweet, they want to know that it came from John Smith [or at the least someone from John Smith's company. [Marla Erwin swears no one cares who exactly at Whole Foods is doing the tweeting as long as they get the help they need...and I am sure she's right. But I am betting if they outsourced all their tweets, people would start to have an issue with that. Just an opinion, maybe I am totally wrong. Marla?]
So, my premise is simple… if someone didn’t write it themselves, it’s not authentic.
I know people are busy, I know companies are lacking budget and struggle with implementing social media. I think if they can’t engage authentically then they should hold off because social media forces authenticity.
That said, I am open to learning about how you feel about this topic. Especially if you’re a PR practitioner engaged in social media. Am I wrong? Is it authentic to write someone else’s words?
If so, let me ask this: Is it authentic to copy a Picasso and sell it as such because you’ve ‘represented’ it properly?
By the way, I have left out some pertinent PR aspects intentionally because I am more curious as to what your thoughts are/reaction will be.
I am afraid of guillotines, so please…be kind.
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There’s been a lot of buzz around measuring the ROI of social media here and other places and it seems to come up a lot during the #pr20chats (PR 2.0 chats on Twitter). Sometimes measurement is a deadly sin (lack thereof) and sometimes it’s seen as a holy grail (can’t get there). Whichever it is, it’s not limited to social media…measuring ROI is also a huge issue for marketers and PR folks too.
Measuring marketing, PR and social media can be relatively simple if you have a plan. And the plan is probably the hardest part, especially getting consensus (management and co-workers), being able to implement it and-most importantly-being agile enough to change on a dime when an element of the plan isn’t working.
I’ll let you in on a little secret, I didn’t learn how to write objectives (the part of the plan that makes it measurable) in college or on the job. Nope! In fact, I learned how to write measureable objectives from the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) when I took their weekend APR (Accreditation in Public Relations) course about 8-9 years ago. Because understanding how to write a plan with measureable objectives is a large part of achieving the APR, it was also a large part of the weekend course. Since then, I have used what I learned for marketing and PR campaign plans throughout the years and it’s really been helpful to show management if campaigns have been successful (or not) and how I’ve been a contributing member of the marketing team.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that there isn’t standardization when it comes to measurement. I’d say what I am about to share is as standard as it gets… And if you haven’t already picked up a copy of Katie Paine’s ‘Measuring Public Relationships,’ you better rush on over to Amazon.
Some of this you might know, some maybe not. In any case, feel free to share your best practices.
Writing a Plan: The Basic Elements
A basic plan should have:
- A goal (One. If you find yourself writing “and” in your goal, you’ll probably need two plans)
- Measurable objectives (as many as needed)
- Strategies (every objective gets its own strategies)
- Tactics (every strategy gets its own tactics)
- A way to measure
A plan could essentially look like this:
- Objective 1.1
- Strategy 1.1
- Tactic 1.1
- Strategy 1.2
- Tactic 1.2
- Objective 2.1
- Strategy 2.1
- Tactic 2.1
- Strategy 2.2
[This basic plan assumes you know your or your client know their challenge, audience, budget, etc.]
Goal: I want to lose weight.
Objective: I want to lose 10 pounds by July 15th
Strategy 1.1: I will go to the gym 5 times a week
Tactic: I will use the elliptical machine, weights and the pool at the gym
Strategy 1.2: I will watch what I eat
Tactic: I will write down everything I eat
Measurement: I lost 8 pounds by July 15th (I didn’t achieve my goal)
Knowing the difference between goals and objectives
When I ask marketing/PR folks what’s their measureable objective is I often hear “to generate more sales” or “to get our key message out.” These are not objectives…they are goals. And because goals and objectives are often confused, it leads people thinking that they can’t be measured in a truly impactful way.
Outputs, Outtakes and Outcomes: Three types of objectives
For objectives to be measureable they must include (no exceptions):
- A specific desire communication or behavioral effect;
- A designated public (or publics) among whom the effect is to be achieved;
- The expected level of attainment; and
- The timeframe in which those attainments
are to occur.
Basic Example: To increase number of presentation downloads by online public #1 by 20% within 3 months. (Pretty easy, right?)
Once you understand what is required for a measureable objective, then you need to understand what type of objective makes sense: output, outtake or outcome.
- Output: Physical products (i.e. whitepapers, tweets, blog posts, articles, etc.)
- Outtake: What will the publics take away? (i.e. messages, perceptions, understandings)
- Outcome: What quantifiable changes in attitudes, behaviors, or opinions (i.e. did they buy something?)
Here’s the catch:
Outputs are easy and it’s apparent whether or not you did what you said you would in your plan (was that whitepaper written and tweeted out?). Outtakes require bench marketing and monitoring (how do you know where you ended up, if you didn’t know where you started). And Outcomes require heavy lifting. Because, and this is VERY important, Outcome objectives are usually where ROI ties in, and an organization will need to track all efforts and follow them, most likely, through a CRM system, which isn’t always easy to do.
So what’s the point to this post? Well, people are losing patience when it comes to conversations around social media (as well as marketing and PR) not being measureable. Everything is measurable; you just need to make the time to plan for it. And trust me, as I have said in the past, I have never worked for an organization that enforced or required a plan. That said, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have one. A plan is a great way to show, whether you’re client or agency side, your value as a marketing, PR or social media pro. That said, no one ever said it was easy…
What do you think? Too basic? (That was the point.) Not real-world enough? If so, why are we trying to complicate it?
As always, I am interested in your thoughts, experiences and where this is all heading.
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In our little social media world we always talk about what organizations are doing wrong and the seven deadly sins that are made when it comes to PR 2.0, but not about what they get right. [And I say 'little' because, let's face it, PR 2.0 isn't mainstream yet.]
There are lots of PR pros working hard to get it right every day and when things come together, there’s an amazing sense of accomplishment and success. But all too often, it’s short-lived and overshadowed.
So then, what are the seven holy grails of PR 2.0? What is it that we continuously strive for like we’re King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable? [Feel free to think Monty Python if it gives you a chuckle.]
This week’s #pr20chat brings us some interesting grails…
Grail #1: Having researched benchmarks (overall or per campaign) [Susan Cellura]
Grail #2: Quality testimonies across multimedia platforms [Lisa Devaney]
Grail #3: Quantifying how much the needle has moved [Stephanie Mrus]
Grail #4: Agreement on Objectives (Output, Outtake and Outcome)
Grail #5: Consistent key messages regardless of vehicle or voice [Stephanie Mrus]
Grail #7: At its heart, an organization and its employees must live what it’s doing in social media/PR 2.0 [MattSnod]
Other notable grails mentioned:
- Complete transparency between client and agency [Narciso Tovar]
- Overhearing (in public) people talking about an initiative you helped bring to life. [Len Kendall]
- Extracting & quantifying Word of Mouth results from clients to measure success. [Lisa Loeffler]
- Breaking down silos. [Stephanie Mrus]
One thing to keep in mind when reading (and responding) to the list of grails is that there are many PR pros come from different backgrounds, experiences and types of organizations. There are no standards across the board…just yet. So, if you think any of these aren’t grails and have achieved some or all of them, it would be great if you could share your insights so we don’t continue to think that these grails are only legends in our own minds.
How do we achieve these grails? What’s holding us back? What would you add or remove?
One that I’d add is PR pros understanding how to communicate and partner with ALL publics (not just the media and bloggers).
NOTE: #pr20chat is every Wednesday night at 8pm EST on Twitter. Feel free to join in anytime and to offer up topics for discussion.
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Today’s post is brought to you by Arik Hanson, APR, ACH Communications. Arik is a talented PR pro that shares a ton of great PR and communications insights at his blog Communications Conversations and on Twitter. If you’re a PR professional looking to get ramped up in how social media is changing our profession, I suggest you add Arik to your list of mentors.
There’s been a lot of talk recently―both online and off―about the value of accreditation for PR professionals. And it’s not just idle chatter. Just ask Patrick Evans. He had an interesting post about APR accreditation recently (his blog has since been taken down) that spurred a passionate conversation between those both for and against it (Note: If you’re interested there’s a Twitter conversation today at 1 pm EDT-To join in, follow #accredchat.)
The question on many minds: Is APR certification worth the effort and expense?
In the spirit of transparency, I earned my APR four years ago. And I think there a number of reasons to pursue the designation. If you’re on the fence and contemplating taking the exam, here are three benefits to consider:
- It’s about the journey, not the outcome. For me, earning my APR was far more about the process than the outcome. During my studies, I met so many wonderfully smart PR professionals-many of which I now consider good friends, trusted colleagues and mentors. The process also forced me to take a step back from my day-to-day PR role and focus on the basics, the building blocks of any successful PR program. I’m talking about the four-step PR planning process. I learned from case studies, real-life examples outside my industry and proven PR veterans.
- It opens up opportunities you never had before. The APR designation will open up all kinds of doors for you-especially within PRSA. You’ll be asked to lead committees. Sit on your chapter’s board. Participate in Readiness Reviews. Coach mentees. Judge Silver and Bronze Anvils. And along the way, you’ll build meaningful relationships with some incredibly smart people. Again, I argue it’s all about the relationships.
- It will lead to new jobs/work. Just not the way you probably originally envisioned. See, it’s not necessarily the three letters that matter-again, it’s the relationships you develop throughout the process (are you seeing a trend yet?). As part of the APR fraternity, you will rub shoulders will a different strata of PR pros. You will have access to folks you never thought you’d meet before (for me, it’s been Peter Shankman, John Beardsley and Dave Mona, for example). And, as a result, you’ll be considered for jobs you never thought attainable before. Speaking from experience, my last two jobs were a direct result of people I met through my APR process.
At the same time, I can understand my colleagues’ reluctance to start their APR journey. For many of the reasons Patrick-and others-have extolled, the accreditation process and designation do have their drawbacks. But, it’s incumbent upon us, as the PR professionals who make up PRSA, to do something about it. So, here are three areas I’d like to see improved in the APR process, and my basic thoughts on how to make that happen:
- Shift the focus of the test―again. With social networks and new technology playing a bigger part in today’s PR environment, why is it that just 1 percent of the test focuses on new technology? And, as Patrick Evans points out, with our business partners questioning our ability to understand their businesses, why does just 10 percent of the test revolve around business literacy? I know PRSA just revamped the test a few years ago, but with the industry changing so rapidly that might be something we need to do every few years now. Suggestion: Re-evaluate the test and adjust to better reflect the new changing PR industry and business climate.
- Help our business partners understand the importance of accreditation. Unlike CPAs and other professional certifications, APR does not necessarily resonate with most employers. Yes, it’s a conversation starter and it’s incumbent on us to change that mindset, but for the most part many C-suite executives think “annual percentage rate” rather than “accredited in public relations” when they hear APR. The PR profession at large needs to work to change this perception (that means all of us). Suggestion: Take 5 minutes with a senior-level executive this week and talk about how APR has helped you better serve your clients/organization.
- Take another look at maintenance. I thought Patrick Evans nailed it in his recent post when he suggested we re-evaluate the maintenance program. In my mind, it’s not so much that the maintenance program doesn’t look at the right things. I’m more concerned it’s not doing its job. Is it pushing us as APRs to further our PR education? Are we incented to learn new skills? Are we encouraged to develop existing talents further? Are we asked to push our boundaries? In it’s current state, I’m not so sure. For someone who’s actively involved with their local PRSA chapter like I am, it’s relatively easy to accumulate the 10 points needed. I’d argue it shouldn’t be that easy. I don’t want it to be easy. I want to challenge myself-I want PRSA to challenge me, too. I think we have some work to do here. Suggestion: Re-evaluate the point system. Put more emphasis on learning new skills and improving business literacy.
I’m curious―if you’re still on the fence, what are your barriers to taking the test? If you have your APR, how can we improve the process? Let’s get all the issues out in the open so we can learn from one another.
[Image: James Sarmiento]
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I had no doubt that we’d identify some sins that are keeping PR pros from harnessing the power of social media to engage ALL of their publics. Without further ado:
Deadly Sin #1: Becoming too involved in relationships
Deadly Sin #2: Only focusing on media and blogger relations
Deadly Sin #5: Approaching social media as a channel [Jason Kintzler]
Deadly Sin #6: Not understanding group dynamics, sociology, anthropology [Giles Crouch, Brian Solis]
Deadly Sin #7: Not Integrating communications efforts
Other Deadly Sins…
- Setting unrealistic, over promising expectations [Lauren Vargas]
- Cramming traditional “push” PR tactics into conversational social media [Jason Kintzler]
- Your client’s brand has no friends, fans or followers [Jason Kintzler]
I hope I didn’t miss anyone or any other sins! What other sins would you add when it comes to PR 2.0?