PR Fish Bowl

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November 29, 2016

Our PR Holiday Wish List

holidayprlist16During this busy holiday time, we wanted to press pause for a moment and think of some items that would truly make a difference to those of us working in public relations. The following gifts would upgrade and improve relationships with clients and media as well.

Clients with just causes. The best CSR programs grow organically from a company’s beliefs or  culture. Those considered part of an organization’s DNA more readily engage employee participation, make for better stories and inherently have more media appeal. Here’s hoping every company finds that perfect philanthropic match the way Lexmark has with its sustainability program or Hasbro’s dedication to autism awareness.

A national spokesperson registry. If this already exists, we don’t know about it and if it doesn’t, here’s a business opportunity! Researching potential spokespeople for B2B tech or consumer clients includes contacting agents and managers (pricey), employing obvious search terms – “paid media spokesperson” or “xx expert” (time-consuming) and then back-and-forth negotiating with no true industry standard for price and contractual terms. The truth is we have happened upon some of our best spokespeople with a combination of resourcefulness and luck.

The demise of fake news. A recent study shows that a majority of middle school students can’t tell the difference between real news and fake news. Eighty-two percent couldn’t distinguish between a real news story on a website and a “sponsored content” post. This is the future, and it’s sad. Anyone in PR (and many who aren’t) know that a seismic shift has occurred in terms of where people get their news – 62% obtain most of their news from social media, which has opened a Pandora’s Box of questionable stories. And, with Gen Y already outnumbering Baby Boomers, the gift of fact-based real reporting is high on our list. We look forward to more organizations taking the responsibility of producing fact-based content as seriously as PR people do.

Budgets with bite. Not every client is blessed with meaningful funding stories or a bevy of new product announcements to keep a news pipeline full. Intrepid PR types can develop good, creative story pitches but often you need more than hard and soft news to keep your client’s name in lights. This is where teams need to work together to make sure PR budgets are sufficient for borrowed-interest elements. These can incorporate everything from regular quarterly consumer surveys, to a third-party spokesperson, to events and clever stunts. We encourage clients to think about a PR budget as more than agency time spent solely on earned media outreach. The best plans are an amalgam of  traditional media pitching, owned content development and placement and a smattering of smart extras such as those outlined above.

Better words.  PR people are among the worst offenders when it comes to using cliched words and expressions. We are also the quickest to engage in something linguists call ‘peevology’” – the condemnation of certain words and expressions that viscerally offend a reader with little curiosity about their history, meaning, or function. Typically, we jump all over a word or phrase that describes something in a seemingly fresh way (“hockey-stick” growth, stay “in your lanes”) and then denounce its triteness months later. Linguists suggest that while you may never want to hear a particular word again (content, anyone?) without understanding its origin and etymological development, you may be missing something interesting or enlightening. So, while we heartily endorse scrapping the overused, incorrect, or just bad words of 2016, why not investigate them a bit before trashing? Then the PR community can begin using some shiny new examples in 2017.

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