It’s no secret that the public relations industry has a challenge when it comes to communicating how it directly impacts the bottom-line. But what if you, the client, could maximise your return from the work your PR agency does for you?
There’s an old saying: "Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for” (Helen Woodward, 1938). I couldn’t agree more.
India is the second-most populous country in the world. It’s astounding diversity of religions, languages and cultures is unparalleled. It also has a flourishing media scene, with thousands of outlets operating in multiple languages. The mainstream media has more freedom that even before. Alongside this, the use of social media has grown hugely. As a result, the media industry in India has expanded tremendously, so now is the time to focus on public relations and secure some great coverage.
Its trendy at the moment to say the ‘press release is dead’. And while I would agree that the media industry has gone through a dramatic shift in recent years, that doesn’t necessarily mean the demise of the press release.
Why we tell MBA stories to increase applications for Business Schools Storytelling is often considered vital for human survival. It’s how we have communicated since we were sat in caves – I think it is just as important now as it was then. And in the world of PR there often needs to be an emphasis on storytelling over selling.
The media industry often sees Christmas as a time to wind down and relax and even minimise pitching or distributing press releases. However, I think Christmas can offer PR’s gems of wisdom and tips, below I have summarised my top three. 1. Make a list, check it twice Making strong journalist lists is pivotal to being a good PR person, especially if you are dealing with a number of different journalists and media opportunities at the same time. Santa Claus makes a list of all the children he needs to deliver presents to, and also so his elves make the right presents and don’t miss any children. When PR’s are sending out that all important news worthy press release, they need to make sure they’re not missing out on any key journalists. 2. Follow a star Every PR person should be utilising all of their key spokespeople. Here at BlueSky Education we are always promoting and directing journalists to key professors, Deans and researchers and we’re listening to their opinions and expertise. This is particularly useful when their area of expertise is a news topic or they have a recently published research paper. The three wisemen didn’t get lost because they followed a star, PR’s should know which stars to follow. 3. Make sure there’s room at the Inn Don’t pitch a story that has already been talked about from every side. It’s too difficult to be spotted in a crowded market. My advice would be either pick a different story to promote or come up with a new angle on a pre-existing story. Mary and Joseph couldn’t fit in the Inn they had to find an alternative sleep in the stable, I think the same can be applied to PR as you shouldn’t try and get in somewhere where you simply don’t fit. Christmas is also a great time to show kindness to the media, especially those journalists you frequently contact and who regularly publish stories from your clients. From all of us at BlueSky PR we wish you a Merry Christmas.
If you want to be a good PR person you need an effective strategy, working in the media is competitive and PR is often more of an art form than a sales technique.
This last week has provided a lot of PR fails - which have been so awful, they have literally made headlines themselves. Here are my top three. Melania Trump The first, and possibly the worst, PR fail is Melania Trump’s jacket. It’s fair to say that President Trump and the first lady have faced a lot of criticism, but somehow, I think wearing a jacket to visit a migrant child detention centre that says ‘I really don’t care, do you?’ is possibly one of the most insensitive things Melania could have done. Unfortunately for her, Melania Trump's apparently empathetic visit to the Mexican border is now completely overshadowed by the unempathetic message on the back of her jacket. Burger King Another embarrassing PR fail this week comes from Russian Burger King. Obviously seizing the opportunity to make headlines with the world’s media spotlight on Russia thanks to the World Cup, Burger King Russia decided to create a social media campaign offering free burgers for life to women who get pregnant by a football player. “Each will receive 3 million rubles, and a lifelong supply of Whoppers. For these girls, it will be possible to get the best football genes and will lay down the success of the Russian national team on several generations ahead. Forward! We believe in you!" Burger King in Russia have since apologised for the social media campaign. I would have thought that Burger King wouldn’t want to encourage Russia having a bad reputation for playing on sexist stereotypes, particularly in advertising, but this campaign really felt like something from the 1950’s.
Making a mistake when you’re a PR professional is not only costly but also detrimental to your company’s reputation, which in some cases may never be regained. So here are three of the key mistakes to avoid making when planning and executing your PR strategy. Bad timing Lesson one: Timing can work against you. Particularly when there’s not enough time to prepare in advance of an event or when you’re trying to organise interviews with journalists but your client doesn’t leave you with enough notice to make arrangements. To combat this, PRs should be advising their clients on how the media industry works and how you need to allow time to effectively get results. Here at BlueSky Education we pay attention to timing. We regularly promote academic research but we make sure we do it when relevant content is a hot topic in the media, and we target journalists that are writing about it. Be Reliable You don’t like it when people cancel meetings at the last minute, so try to avoid letting journalists down. It’s important to build lasting relationships with journalists based on them trusting you. If you can’t help them, let them know right away, don’t make promises that you can’t deliver on. The same goes for dealing with your clients, do not be flaky and make sure they are always in the loop.
Now that I’ve entered the world of PR, I can see the lessons that some films can teach us about the varied world of public relations. I’ve selected three film quotes that stood out to me and the messages they convey about this industry. Be creative “Almost Famous” is the story of a young, up and coming journalist in the 1960s who is given the job of interviewing his favourite band. He ends up in a world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, without his overprotective mother knowing, he ends up falling in love with one of the bands most infamous groupies. My favourite PR quote from the film is: “Is it hard to make us look cool?” Making your client appear interesting to the media is a major aspect of public relations, and sometimes it seems impossible to make them “look cool”. In the world of Business Education, sometimes clients want you distribute challenging research, or a story that might have already been told. This is why creativity is important, taking the time to come up with a new angle in order to provide the media with a fresh way of telling, or adding to, a story. If you can successfully execute this, you will build your clients' profiles and credibility around the world, essentially making them “look cool”. Don't over-complicate things “One Day” is about two university graduates who spend the night together after their graduation ceremony. Dexter and Em are shown each year on the same date to see where they are in their lives, sometimes they are together, sometimes they are not. The best PR quote from this film is: “I think we like to complicate things when really it’s quite simple”. To successful grab an editor’s attention you have to develop the knack of writing in a simple way, making the wording engaging and understandable. The same can be said when working with university research, to transfer it from academic language into a message that you can send to the media which is as simplistic as possible. This is the best way to reach a wider audience. Make the right decisions
Now is the time to make some professional resolutions which will make you a better, more productive PR person.
LinkedIn boasts an impressive 500 million users, so surely presents an opportunity for the savvy PR? However, like most social networking sites it’s overcrowded and noisy, making it difficult for anyone to make a real impact.
Weinstein and the power of the media Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you will have heard the Harvey Weinstein story. For obvious reasons, the scandal has been well covered by the media, however in the age of instant news, some people are already bored of it. In fact, I overheard someone in my local coffee shop opening a newspaper and sarcastically saying “oh look, more about Harvey Weinstein, it’s like there’s no other news”.