The term ‘expert’ is now used by anybody claiming some degree of knowledge on a topic, but did you know that there is only one legal usage? If you claim to be an expert without the evidence to back it up, you could be heading for trouble.
Apple released a new video on its website today – called Better. It sets out the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability and many believe it suggests Tim Cook’s vision for the company. To that point it is voiced by Cook.
Released for Earth Day the video suggests that Apple may be back in the game of value-based PR. ‘Better’ has all the hallmarks of the THINK DIFFERENT video that many see as the start of the rise the company has been on for the last 15 years and is focuses on the values – what it stands for – as it looks to continue to dominate the mobile, post-PC and media distribution industries.
I’ve written about the importance of values to the foundation of Apple’s brand during the Steve Jobs era – and how they’ve moved away from them under Cook’s tenure. ‘Better’ fits the THINK model of delivering the right message to the right audience, at the right time via the right channel – and appears to be a move in the right direction and could provide the company with a new point of differentiation over competitors like Google, Samsung and Motorola.
I hope it is the start of a trend where companies build relationships with their audiences based on values, not product specification. Apple will ultimately lose a battle based on feature and function. A battle based on values… a battle for hearts and minds, however… now that is a battle Apple could win. Easily. It is for that reason that ‘Better’ could be the most significant piece of communications the company has issued in the post Steve Jobs phase of the business.
Want to know why values are so important? This is why.
They say that theses days if you don’t upset somebody you’re doing something wrong. But haters are going to hate, right? Well, if the reaction to this song, written by Phil Mershon, Director of Events at Social Media Examiner and performed by Mary McCoy at Social Media World earlier this year is anything to go by then the song is an almost perfect. It has upset lots – and I mean LOTS – of people – most of them the socialites the song places in its ironic crosshairs.
The song sums up the current state of social media and the problems it faces – where the often self-appointed doyens of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and the ilk turn on what, by the number of views, shares and comments it has received, would appear to be a perfect example of everything they evangelize. It has ticked all of the boxes of the perfect piece of social content marketing and has got people talking about it.
The only problem is that it pokes fun at the behaviour of the people that have assumed the role of the socialati [OK, I made that word up!]. Many of them – in the audience at Social Media World – were willing participants in the prank dutifully pulling out their cellphones to take ‘selfies’ at the order of Phil Mershon.
I wrote about the dark side of social media a few months ago – where those that have presumed leadership of the discipline [although it is, in reality, only the use of a collection of platforms] seek to retain their superiority by attacking those that seek to question their authority. The more that we stand up to the so-called social ‘experts’ and call them out the sooner they might understand that social media is about conversation and not about vanity metrics and superiority.
I agree with Peter that startups do not need a PR agency for launch. I’d argue that most small businesses don’t need a PR agency on retainer, period – but that’s another matter. What they need is good advice – and there is a real shortage of that, both from entrepreneurs that have successfully launched and grown a business and seasoned ‘PR’ professionals alike. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise when most PR people don’t even appear to understand what it is they are supposed to be doing.
Much of what Peter says is good, solid, advice for early-stage companies – covering things like the narrative [I’ll record a PR Espresso about this later], the pitch, press release, some visuals, third-party validation and a pitch list. But, it doesn’t actually talk about public relations; it covers publicity. It also fails to address the most important pieces of the jigsaw.
Creating a pitch email is not rocket science [the sample Peter gives isn’t great example]; a press release can be written by a fifth-grade student and these days, press contact details are readily available.
The challenge is to understand what you should be saying, to whom you should be saying it to, how you should say it, and how to deliver it [to the ultimate audience. The journalist is not your audience they are a delivery mechanism!]. This is where you need some help from a specialist.
Effective public relations is about delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time and using the right delivery mechanism. It is about building relationships – not publicity. It is about listening to your audiences and communicating in a language and style that they do and saying what they want to hear, not what you – necessarily – want to say.
If you don’t get this right then all of the content in the world won’t work. You can pitch every conceivable journalist without getting the coverage you want. Without the right message, delivered to the right audience, at the right time via the right channels a business won’t build the relationships it needs to help it flourish. Your marketing content will fail to encourage people to take the actions you want them to.
So, while early-stage businesses don’t need a PR company on retainer, they would do well to get advice on creating a value proposition, messaging and content that will help make them build relationships, have their audience take action on their behalf and secure the the publicity – and the media relationships – they want.
If you’re a small business or startup and paying a traditional PR company to manage the relationships between your organization and the media here are three reasons you might want to reconsider the arrangement.
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