PR Espresso, THINK PR Espresso, Startup, Smallbiz, PR Strategy

PR is Simple | THINK PR Espresso

Traditional PR programs are full of things that add budget, effort and activity – but it doesn’t have to be that way. I presented at ProductCamp Toronto this weekend and a lot of the conversation was about how to avoid feature-creep – the continued addition of one thing after another for fear of missing something that will make it attractive to customers.

Simple is best, but it requires continual reviews and mental strength to avoid features or, in the case of public relations, marketing and publicity, activities creeping on to the plan that add no real value. Today’s PR Espresso explains how you can start to simplify your PR, marketing and publicity programs today.

Startup and SmallBiz PR and marketing tip: keep it simple, stupid! 

Public Relations, Marketing and Publicity for Product Managers

The slides I used today at ProductCamp Toronto to explain the difference between PR, marketing and publicity – and how product managers and product marketing managers can better use them.

Startup and SmallBiz PR & marketing tip: public relations is an invaluable tool in product development and product marketing.  It can help you identify key feature, your value propositions and marketing messages and should be an integral part, rather than a bolt-on, to every product launch.

PR Espresso, THINK PR Espresso, Startup, Smallbiz, PR Strategy

Where to do I find customers? | The THINK PR Espresso

Why is that most PR programs focus on awareness with as many people as possible in the hope that you find the ones you’re looking for? The people you want to build relationships with are probably closer than you think – they’re either within your extended network or are accessible through it.

Rather than playing an expensive game of “Where’s Waldo”, why not focus on figuring out who they are, who you already know that can help you start a conversation with them, and focus on a few people, rather than broadcasting to the masses, hoping your audience will hear you?

Startup and SmallBiz PR and marketing tip: don’t play a game of ‘Where’s Waldo?” – identify the people that are critical to the successful achievement of your next milestone and focus on building relationships directly with them.

Like this? Want to receive a PR Espresso in your inbox before 9am every day?  Sign up

Why Tech Startups Don’t Need ‘PR’

I read a piece by The Houston Business Journal’s Joe Martin this morning called Tech startups: You don’t need PR, exec says.  In it, he says that Uber GM Chris Nakutis told a local group of entrepreneurs they don’t need PR.

In this video I explain why I agree.  Sort of.

Startup and SmallBiz PR & Marketing tip: Don’t mistake PR for publicity and make sure that you own the key relationships for your business – with customers, prospects, journalists and analysts.

Like this? Want to receive a PR Espresso in your inbox before 9am every day?  Sign up

PR Espresso, THINK PR Espresso, Startup, Smallbiz, PR Strategy

Do I need public relations, marketing or publicity?

*Before you read this post please check out my definitions of public relations, marketing and publicity. It’ll take you less than two minutes.

PR is the process of building and maintaining strong relationships with the people that are critical to the attainment of a goal.

Marketing is compelling a defined person or group to take a specific action in support of your business – because they want to.

Publicity is awareness – the one-way communication of information/your story/your message to an audience en mass.

There’s a lot of confusion over the difference between public relations, marketing and publicity – most of it by people that are supposed to know better! The public relations industry in particular has struggled for decades – including the two that I’ve been working in it – to communicate exactly what the commercial value of it is.

Our customers see PR as smoke and mirrors; expensive smoke and ridiculously priced mirrors. Under no circumstances should they attempt to do themselves. Journalists are a prickly bunch that needs careful handling. You can destroy your business with a badly written tweet. The truth is that public relations isn’t only about the media – traditional, online or otherwise. It’s about relationships.

Relationships are what entrepreneurs do. They question you need to ask your self when figuring out whether you need PR, marketing or publicity to help you grow your business is, “what do I want them to do?”

If you want them to have a relationship with your organization then you need help with public relations. Public relations is about building and maintaining relationships. It is based on trust, mutual benefit, a shared value set, honesty and transparency. It’s also about the long-term success of the business, rather than short-term gratification. It’s a marriage, rather than a one-night stand. Editorial pitching with the aim of securing coverage is not, generally, public relations. Think about it – you don’t even have a relationship with the journalist in most cases, let alone one with the intended audience.

If, on the other hand, you want people to do something – then it is marketing support you need. Marketing is about getting people to take action on behalf of you [or your business] because they want to. I’ll say the last part again… because THEY WANT TO. If the action is taken grudgingly because you’ve kept asking or because you’re bombarding them with messages in the hope of beating them in to submission then it is not marketing. It’s intimidation!

If you want the world to know about your product, service or business – without an attempt to either build a relationship [a transactional purchase for an app, for example] then you need publicity. Publicity is the communication of information to an audience. Most media coverage is publicity – if it is news then it’s almost certainly publicity; editorial bylines can have the intention of building a relationship with the reader – but it’s the exception rather than the rule. Advertising is paid publicity.

So, what do you need most in order to grow your businesses?

  • Relationships based on trust?
  • People taking action, because they want to [I’d argue that you need to build relationships before people will willingly take action on your behalf]
  • Lots of people to know about you – without any intention of building a relationship or them taking action?

I can only think of a handful of scenarios where the latter is the case.

Startup and SmallBiz PR & Marketing tip: Understand the difference between public relations, marketing and publicity – and which one your business needs to achieve your next milestone.

If you have questions then please feel free to get in touch – you can email on lyndon@thinkdifferently.ca or call me on +1 647.773.2677

PR Espresso, THINK PR Espresso, Startup, Smallbiz, PR Strategy

Ask questions; start conversations | The THINK PR Espresso

Next time you’re tempted to pitch somebody – whether it is a prospect, early adopter or a journalist – stop yourself.  Before you introduce yourself think of a question. Think of something you’d like to know about the person you’re about to try to engage in a conversation.

Startup and SmallBiz PR and marketing tip:  Asking questions is a great way to start conversations and can provide you with information that could help you ultimately get what you want.  It is one of the best -and most overlooked – public relations strategies.

PR Espresso, THINK PR Espresso, Startup, Smallbiz, PR Strategy

How PR helps turn “one-shot” opportunities in to an opportunity | THINK PR Espresso

During a Google Hangout looking at Lean and Design Thinking I was asked how a startup can use PR when they only have one shot at making an impression.  My response? Don’t approach the situation as a one-shot opportunity – start a conversation that aims to find a mutual benefit for both sides.

Working for a traditional PR company in the UK a few years ago I was tasked with building a new practice within the business.  Rather than calling people hawking public relations services I spent time researching the company I was approaching, called them and asked questions and made a deliberate choice not to try to sell.  [Let’s face it, the chances of getting a sale by phoning asking if they were looking to buy PR services on the day I called were slim].

By asking questions, getting to know more about the people and organizations I was speaking with I was able to understand which presented opportunities, understand the specific commercial or communication challenges each faced, and started conversations that ultimately led to business.  It also helped me identify the companies that would never want what I was offering – which saved me time, money and effort.

Startup and SmallBiz PR and marketing tip: play a long game and focus on building relationships, rather than treating people as transactions.

PR Strategy, Public Relations, PR, PR Espresso

Is your PR program focused on the wrong things? | PR Espresso

Loss of focus – or no focus at all – is a common cause of public relations failure. Too often the goal is a big one and the timescale is either long-term or unrealistically short.

Want to increase the chances of public relations delivering successful outcomes? Zoom in and focus on short-term goals and milestones and watch the longer-term, big “hairy” goals, appear quickly in to focus.

Startup and SmallBiz PR & marketing tip: Have razor-sharp focus, rather than trying to hit everything that moves.

PR Espresso, THINK PR Espresso, Startup, Smallbiz, PR Strategy

Social Media Best Practice | The THINK PR Espresso

Read this post, “Things can go wrong in Social. Quickly!” for an update on this post.

At the end of last week I read an article on Technorati by Shane Paul Neil, entitled, “Technology, self-promotion and the death of public relations.  It’s one of many to make this claim recently.  It’s also one of many written by authors that don’t understand public relations – confusing publicity with PR.

Had the article focused on publicity I would have agreed with most of the points that Shane makes.  The fact that it focuses on public relations means that most of his opinions on why he believes PR is dead or dying are wrong.  Just plain wrong.  The problem is that Shane doesn’t have a PR background: he works as a social strategist and while, when I questioned him on Twitter about his experience of public relations, he had the correct definition, his understanding of what that looks like is incorrect.

It’s a problem I’ve written about many times.  The majority of so-called ‘professionals’ working in the PR industry don’t know the difference and have done an excellent job at misinforming customers and complementary industries like marketing and publicity about what it is we do. It’s something I want to change and challenging people that write in, supposedly credible media outlets, when they get it wrong is the first stage.

Technorati, Public Relations, Publicity, Social Media

Having added a comment, which was in ‘moderation’ for almost a day [and which has subsequently been deleted] I took to Twitter.  What were the author’s PR credentials/experience? It turns out I was right – he has none.  But, what happened next is something that every company can learn from.  It’s an example of how to use social media to engage people.

My usual experience of trying to have a conversation about an article – where I have constructive criticism [OK, sometimes the constructive looks a lot like frustrated irritation] – is that I get no response.  Either that or I get a firm rebuttal or the digital equivalent of “f*@! you’ – people usually don’t like being asked to support their position with evidence or experience.  A social ‘conversation I’d had with AirPR earlier in the week was a prime example of this approach. I’d questioned the company’s position that PR is actually customer marketing [it fundamentally misunderstands the difference between PR and marketing]

This was different.

Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter

After an initial back and forth, a conversation broke out.  I went from irritation about the piece to appreciating the opportunity to have the conversation – to make and debate my opinion with Shane. What’s more – rather than trying to make sure that the publication didn’t see my comments, Shane got the Managing Editor at Technorati in on the conversation.  There was talk about a series of views on the topic because the original piece had highlighted passionate responses from a number of people and with a range of differing perspectives.

This is social media as it is supposed to be used. It’s not about publicity – self-or otherwise.  It’s not about broadcasting a message and labelling people that agree friends, while labelling those that don’t trolls.  Social Media’s value is about the discussion; the conversation; the opportunity to change perceptions in real-time. It’s an extension of the owned internet, where organizations and individuals have the opportunity to publish their opinions – and start conversations where all opinions are welcomed [unless you really are a troll!].

Shane showed that, while he doesn’t understand PR, he understands the power of social media as a communications tool.  I started out questioning whether he had anything of value to add to the discussion about the future of communications and found, where social is concerned, he does.  He probably understands more about PR than most ‘PR’ people.

Startup and SmallBiz PR and marketing tip: social media is about conversation.  The tools are just that – tools.  You still need the basic skills required to use them for best effect.

Want to receive a daily PR Espresso in your inbox before 9am?  Sign up