Traditional Public Relations is Insanity

Einstein, Insanity, Public Relations
Einstein once said insanity was to repeatedly do the same thing expecting a different outcome!

Albert Einstein is quoted to have said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  On this basis most public relations programs are insane!  Despite new technologies, new distribution channels and the real-time internet, that gives people the potential to communicate with almost anybody else instantly, public relations has remained the same for more than 100 years and fails to deliver the results that many businesses expect.

It might be reasonable to expect that having tried the traditional approach to PR unsuccessfully that more businesses would try something different.  And yet the majority of new customers for PR agencies are companies that have recently fired an agency because they were dissatisfied with the results.

There are two main scenarios:

  • The first is where an agency has been unable to secure the coverage in key magazines, websites and blogs that they promised [and that the company believe their product or service warrants] and feel they haven’t got the return on the investment they have made. The customer has often spent many thousands of dollars a month for, usually, for a minimum of three months].
  • The other is that a constant stream of press releases, intensive media relations, interviews and the resulting coverage in publications, on websites and in blogs has not translated in to the business outcomes they had hoped [and, in some cases, been promised] for.

Small businesses that try public relations and find that it doesn’t deliver results do one of two things: they start a beauty parade for a new agency, hoping to find that the same combination of resources – press releases, media outreach, interviews and coverage – will deliver better results.  Or, they stop doing public relations and divert the money in to another marketing activity or, in many cases, another part of the business.  The companies that choose the first approach invariably end up at the same place they were with their previous agency and do one of two things.  They start a beauty parade to find another PR agency that they hope will use the same combination of resources… you get the picture?

If traditional PR hasn’t delivered your business the outcomes you’d hoped for then you might want to think differently about public relations.  You might be surprised at the impact it will have on your business.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Ditch the press release.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The first press release was developed as a crisis communications tool by the Pennsylvania Railroad as a way to communicate information about the 1906 Atlantic City train wreck to journalists en mass. It was designed to control speculation and control the message – not as a way to build long-term relationships with an audience.  It was later adapted and, in conjunction with another staple of the PR industry – the wire, became a way for companies in regulated industries to communicate information to multiple audiences simultaneously in order that they met regulatory compliance rules that required them to ensure nobody gained an advantage from prior knowledge of information.
  • Don’t pay others to talk to the media on your behalf.  Your audiences, whether the media, prospect, customers or purchase influencers want to hear from the entrepreneur behind the business, not a paid spokesperson.  As an entrepreneur you are the best person to talk about your business: while PR people can talk on your behalf, they’ll never tell the story as clearly, passionately or honestly as you can.
  • Paying a PR person to be the voice of your business is paying somebody to act as a gatekeeper for all of your business’ most valuable relationships.  If you stop paying the PR agency then you lose the relationships so why not develop and nurture them yourself?
  • Focus. Too many PR programs are coveralls: they try to find ways to communicate with multiple audiences as efficiently as possible.  They are a short cut! Often these audiences have hugely different rules of engagement, languages, frames of reference and burdens of proof yet companies attempt to use the same tactics and collateral to build relationships with them all.  Identifying a small number of target audiences, understanding how they think, talk, where they hang out and which communications channels they use will help you fine tune PR tactics in order to increase their effectiveness.
  • Look beyond the media.  Public Relations has become synonymous with media relations – when in reality, the media is just one public [or audience] for a business.  When you are planning a PR program consider who your other audiences are and develop strategies for building relationships, based on mutual benefit and trust, with them.
  • When traditional media-based public relations hasn’t delivered the results that you want in order to grow your home business it’s insanity to continue to do the same thing hoping for a different outcome. What non-traditional PR tactics have delivered results for your home business?

The key to any successful public relations program is to deliver the right message to the right audience, at the right time and via the right distribution channel.  To find out more about how your business can benefit from thinking differently about public relations contact Lyndon on 1.647.773.2677 or email lyndon@thinkdifferently.ca

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