Public Relations Is…

In the short time I’ve been writing here at the BH, I’ve occasionally used my bi-weekly column to gripe about PR and the new age of the web we’re calling Web 2.0. In our haste to try to reinvent the press release, convince our clients to podcast their AGM or industry conference, and culling lists of “influential” bloggers in order to hawk the latest goods and services for our clients, we might be forgetting what public relations is truly all about: the client.

If it seems obvious, it bears repeating: our jobs as PR professionals is to satisfy the client. By this I certainly don’t mean that when the client wants a news release we say “What kind of distribution would you like on that?”, as often the wrong tools are employed in certain situations because PR professionals are unwilling to speak up against such practices. If one of our responsibilities is to make sure the client is getting value for our work, then it’s certainly worth talking to them about using the right tools for the job. But, I digress… [Read more…]

PR Strategies and Tactics

You wouldn’t dive head-first into a pool without knowing how deep the water is, would you?

Public relations practitioners are focused on getting things done. “Let’s put out a news release!” or “Let’s start a blog!” are the quick-fix answers to questions like “How are we going to communicate this message to our publics?” when the real need is for careful planning before these questions should even come up. [Read more…]

Too Much Information! Or How Public Relations Is Time Consuming

Yesterday, we had a lunch and learn at Thornley Fallis about the increasing importance of social news to our profession. As we sat around the boardroom table, we talked about citizen journalism and how it’s forcing mainstream media to adapt and/or adopt. We discussed the merits of reading these sites and those like them to get a sense of who’s out there reporting the news for free. We talked about how one would go about “pitching” these amateur journalists (and by the way, the answer is to not pitch them at all). We also got into a discussion about social bookmarking, but ran out of time to go into any great detail.

Fifteen years ago, a conversation about how almost anyone can become a member of the media would not have been conceivable. Similarly, fifteen years ago there was a lot less material PR professionals had to keep up with on a daily basis. My point: there are a lot more ways for PR to get their message across these days, but there is also much more that PR professionals need to keep their eyes on. Constantly. [Read more…]

Are Public Relations Practitioners Spamming the Media?

Take a moment to consider what exactly spam is. According to Wikipedia, the authority on everything these days (including the life and death of Sinbad) describes spam as such:

Spamming is the abuse of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages, which are universally undesired.

Anyone who uses email understands spam. It’s something unsolicited and almost always unwanted. If you’re lucky, you don’t get a lot of it. It’s rarely useful/tasty due to the fact that it’s mass produced and, by and large, artificial. At times, this is exactly how one could describe an unsolicited press release sent from a PR practitioner to a journalist: information that is electronic, unsolicited, useless, mass produced and artificial. [Read more…]

What Does Social Media Really Mean for PR?

Allow me to put my skeptic hat on for just a few minutes.

Those of us working in public relations understand the challenges associated with trying to get our clients’ message out to their desired audience. Sometimes are easier than others, depending on the client and the story, but generally the mass media aren’t falling all over themselves to write about our client’s latest widget or sprocket.

For the time being, a terrific alternative to pitching our stories to the mainstream media is the blogosphere. In it, there are millions of people writing about the most obscure and specific topics known and unknown. Chances are pretty good that some of the people who make up the audience your client is trying to reach are reading the blogs associated with your client’s work. If your client sells ice cream, chances are that they would be interested in reaching the ice cream aficionados reading the ice cream blogs of the world. They’re the people who are engaged in the subject matter. They’re the people who tell ten friends. They’re so attached to the subject matter that it helps them create their own identities. Clients tend to like those people because they’re like walking ads. [Read more…]

MySpace for Marketers, Facebook for PR

The other night, I was hanging out with a couple of friends who I hadn’t seen in almost ten years. We went to school together a very long time ago, in a city far from here. Talking to these friends of mine, it occurred to me that something pretty special brought us together: social networking.

As a PR practitioner, I want stay on top of the latest everything. From Britney’s breakdown to business buyouts, it’s important to be trivial. A few years ago, before PR was even a realistic career move, I got into social networking. At first things were lonely. Really lonely. As others can understand, it’s only fun to be in early on something when other people discover that something and it becomes popular. That most certainly applies to the only two social networking sites that matter, Facebook and MySpace. [Read more…]

PR: Only As Good As Our Weakest Link

You remember the saying “You’re only as strong as your weakest link” right? It’s an expression used to convey the message that even the best at something are often lumped in with the worst at something. That expression applies nicely as we talk about the field of public relations.

PR practitioners come in all shapes and sizes: some are great, some aren’t, and some are downright bad. Since this is the Blog Herald, I want to focus my attention online. When we look at how public relations is being done online, we need only look at how it’s being used in the social media space. More communications efforts are targeting online media outlets and bloggers, which means PR people like myself are going to be asked to deliver on blogger relations campaigns. The term “blogger relations” is just a term cooked up to describe PR for bloggers. It’s not traditional PR because bloggers aren’t the mass media. It’s difficult to describe what “blogger relations” actually are because it hasn’t been a glowingly successful part of PR practitioners jobs yet.

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Social Media At Work

A while back on my own blog, I wrote about using social media at work. It was the kind of post that I spent days writing because social media has a presence in nearly everything I do at work. I wanted to share the ways I use social media at work in public relations because the tools available are vital resources in my day-to-day affairs. Without them, I would probably be lost. For those PR practitioners not using these tools, I’d recommend spending some time learning more about them and how you can put them to use.

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Public Relations: Still Learning Social Media


…Or at least I hope that’s the case.

Public relations is a business in a state of change. When the Internet emerged as a force roughly ten years ago, I suspect that PR practitioners were wondering what the future would hold for them. Since that time, the ‘net has boomed, busted, and recently re-emerged, yet PR practitioners as a whole aren’t ready for the new media that we call “social media”.

How come? For starters, most PR practitioners don’t have time to learn new things. This is probably true of every industry: you’re so busy trying to catch up on yesterday’s work that you can’t even begin to think about what tomorrow will bring. It’s no different for PR, as we’re talking about an industry that hasn’t changed a whole lot historically. [Read more…]