“Simply put, we’re PR averse.” I heard this comment from a Communications executive the other day, whose company just went through a recent acquisition. We were discussing brand, reputation and this particular company’s external communications strategy. The exasperation in her voice was clear. This executive needs help! How can she show her ‘risk averse’ company that there’s real power in strategic PR today?
If you’re in PR, you’ve likely witnessed some significant changes in the last 5 years. In today’s environment where social media has given consumers, customers, employees more avenues for direct interaction, it’s no longer enough to rely on traditional media outlets to share your company’s news.
PR teams are now expected to interact with stakeholders directly via social channels and it’s now impossible to target every influencer with tailored outreach. The implications for PR teams are often daunting. So, what do we do? Take a PR-averse stance and choose to not participate? We all know this can’t really happen today. We still need to communicate about mergers, leadership transitions, financial performance, and the list goes on. And regardless, we know that the conversations or the negative threads will continue, even if we’re not part of them.
So stepping back is not really an option. But to optimize our PR functions for success today requires a different mindset and different tactics.
Here’s what we need to do differently:
1. Move from specialists to generalists
It’s no secret that journalists today have been forced to diversify their skill sets. We’ve seen a similar shift in the profile of new hires on corporate PR teams as well. Communications executives tell us that the new breed of PR professional is a generalist, rather than a specialist. In the past, we could probably get away with being ‘just’ a great writer, but now we need to be able to do oh so much more.
2. Determine the behaviors to influence
In today’s fast-paced, short-deadline world, it’s easy to pump out a press release or craft a tweet. But in today’s environment where audiences are exposed to so much information that they filter out content that isn’t of immediate relevance — of course this includes our corporate content – we won’t find success by simply accepting business partners’ first-up requests for communications collateral. We must proactively identify the stakeholder behaviors that we want our communication to influence and use this information to determine our communications tactics.
3. Identify the opportunities for highest impact
It’s overwhelming when we think about the many channels on which we can reach people today. We might be asked, “how do Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, FourSquare, Jabber all fit into our PR strategies today?” We’ve found the best-in-class PR teams are ignoring these ‘catch-all’ questions and instead, seeking to identify the channels with the greatest activity amongst their target audiences. It seems people used to receive information from a finite number of traditional media outlets, whereas now we can utilize a huge range of online sources. This shift makes it vital to insert our messages into the channels with the greatest activity amongst our desired audience, rather than rely simply on the channels with the widest reach.
4. Create content that people will want to share
Instead of creating content to inform a journalist audience of corporate news, PR teams now need to create content that is likely to flow across stakeholders’ informal networks. People tend to share information when they think something will make us look cool, helpful, or smart. Our PR teams need to tap into these social drivers to ensure people attach to and help messages spread.
What else are you doing differently today?
CEC Related Resources
- Optimize your PR Function for Success
- Proactive PR: Content Creation in a Networked Environment
- Succeeding in a ‘New’ Media Relations World
CEC Related Blogs