Do You Trust Your PR Advisors | THINK PR Espresso

Public relations has a bad reputation.  Often, with good reason.  But in some circumstances companies employ a PR company only to have them do what they want, rather than taking their advice.  Would you get on an airplane and try telling the pilot how to fly it?

Today I have a plea to anybody using a PR company.  Let them do the job you employed them to do, listen to the advice they give you and judge them on their ability to deliver, rather than having them do what you want and then asking them why you didn’t get the results you wanted.

Startup and SmallBiz PR and marketing tip:  If you don’t trust your PR company enough to take their advice FIRE them and find a company you do trust.  Bad advice may be ruining your PR company’s reputation, but it’s doing damage to your business  and your cash flow.

 

What value media coverage? | THINK PR Espresso

The more I read in the media, the more I question the value of media coverage as a way to inform and educate audiences; as a way to start conversations and build relationships.

Startup and SmallBiz PR and marketing tip:  understand why you want media coverage and its role in delivering your desired commercial outcome.  If you don’t understand why then you shouldn’t be doing it.

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

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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.

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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.

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Do I need public relations, marketing or publicity?

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*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

Ask questions; start conversations | The THINK PR Espresso

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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.

Things Can Go South On Social Media. Quickly!

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Earlier today I wrote a post about best practice on social media.  I should have known better!  If you want an example of how quickly perceptions can change on social media, check this out!

Having published my original post I tweeted, “We may disagree about PR but get’s social. You can learn from his example! [cc ]”.  It seems, however, that despite calling Shane out for best practice in social media, he wasn’t happy!  

You can read his tweets below [from the bottom up]. 

Social Media, Public Relations, 'Experts'
Everything can change in 140 characters

Apparently, he was concerned that I had outed his professional background in my piece because I had said he works in social media and, as he had admitted publicly to me on Friday, has no experience in public relations.  This, despite the fact that he’d written a piece that assumed publicity was PR – and that PR was dead.  For anybody that doesn’t understand the industry I work in this is misleading – and, having worked in the profession for 17 years, I feel justified in correcting this common misconception.

Here are my tweets from this morning’s exchange:

Public Relations, PR, Social Media, Publicity, THINK DIFFERENT [LY]Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 1.00.05 PM

If you want to read Friday’s exchanges then you can find them at @THINK_Lyndon

Why am I so passionate about this topic?

Let’s face it, my industry does a good enough job without help from uninformed commentators like Shane adding their misguided opinions that are based on an incorrect definition of what public relations is.  I have spent 17 years trying to help businesses to understand that public relations is not about publicity, but about relationships – despite the industry’s attempts to drive it in to the ground for a quick buck.

Shane, as you can see, disagrees!  He, after all, thinks you don’t need to be a singer to know how to sing! [his words not mine] I’m not qualified to comment on that, as anybody that has heard me caterwauling along to a Radiohead of Depeche Mode track will confirm!  But what I am qualified to talk about than him is public relations – I’m 17 years more qualified that Shane and, despite his claims that he’s open to being corrected, I’m not so sure!

I’m also not convinced that he really understands communication, let alone social, at all.

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Social Media Best Practice | The THINK PR Espresso

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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.

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How do I use storytelling and narrative | PR Espresso

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Almost every piece I read written by a PR or marketing company talks about narrative and storytelling.  What they don’t tell you is that you have to have an audience that wants to hear it.  You have to find an audience that cares about your story.

The conventional wisdom is that you use narrative to find an audience.  In reality, you have to find your audience and understand that parts of your story – or narrative – they want to hear.

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