7 Signs Your PR Needs A Reboot

One of the exhilarating things about working in PR, particularly on the agency side, is the variability of what we do. It’s ideal for those of us who are easily bored or fear being in a rut.

Yet, we, too, can fall into routine, and even the most well-conceived plan can become outdated or stale over time. Here are seven signs that your PR plan might need a reboot.

You’re relying on press releases. They still have their place, of course, but they shouldn’t be a crutch. Outreach to important constituents, including journalists, should go far beyond “broadcast news.” (see below) Ironically, the rise of digital and social media and electronic news distribution has placed a higher premium on personal relationships and hand-crafted outreach.

Your PR is a one-way street. Some blast out press releases. Others, even large, sophisticated brands, use social media channels as broadcast platforms. Wrong. These tactics will limit your return-on-investment and may even turn off your target audiences. Digital and social channels should invite feedback.

You’re unprepared for feedback. Inviting a social response means you’re prepared to engage, respond, and handle comments that can at times be critical or difficult. Knowing the social media protocol is half the battle, but being ready to respond in public about sensitive business issues is also important.

You only talk about yourself. See above. It’s not just about you. There’s nothing wrong with commercial news announcements or press releases detailing product benefits, but any news is more powerful if tied to other happenings, trends, needs, or events. The bigger picture will usually yield bigger returns.

Your content is stale or nonexistent. If your “blog” is just warmed over press releases, a news feed from other sites, or your bylined article from 2011, it’s time to do a content audit and commit to a manageable schedule of blogging or if impossible, guest blogging and social media sharing. Yes, PR is about getting other people to say good things about you, but today it’s also about sharing your own, relevant content.

You’re not making new contacts. The media world is far more dynamic than it used to be. If you aren’t refreshing and renewing contacts on a regular basis, or if you see the same faces at your product overviews or media get-togethers, your universe is shrinking. Chances are, so is your influence.

Your PR program is just like last year’s. We used to plan in 12-month cycles, but today the planning cycle is far shorter, to accommodate a changing media and news environment as well as dynamic business conditions. Even the brand narrative, which was once cast in stone, should be reviewed every 90 days for relevance.

Refresh, reboot, recharge. Feel better now?

PR Blunders And Some Lessons Learned

With the year more than half over, we couldn’t help but cringe over some badly handled company communications. So please join us in reflecting on these “PR don’ts” and giving thanks that they weren’t committed by YOU or your clients!

Starbucks Ireland tweets about Britain
Five years ago no one would have thought a 140-character message could stir such outrage. In June the Seattle-based coffee purveyor asked its Irish clients via Twitter to “show us what makes you proud to be British.” The customer response? A refusal to visit Starbucks stores without an apology. Starbucks issued a statement asking forgiveness, but the brew-haha raises the question, what action is best? Delete the tweet? Offer freebies? Go wild with new Irish coffee drinks? You make the call!

Adidas Shackle Shoes
When I look at these shoes I cannot help but think, “who really thought this was a good idea?” Sometimes companies release products with damnable features in the hope of garnering valuable hype. In this case, however, there is nothing fashionable, feasible, or marketable about a sneaker with plastic chains. The Adidas Facebook page exploded with comments referencing “an attempt to make popular more than 200 years of human degradation.” The company decision was to remove the post from their page, which I think was the right move.

Chick-fil-A and marriage equality
Oh, the Chick-fil-A media disaster. It’s impossible not to mention. Of course, a CEO is entitled to his opinion and has the right to express it, however ill-advised it may be, but was it smart? Well, it seems the jury is still out on this one, since what looked like an unquestionable PR blunder may actually prove to be a sales wonder! With the conservative crowd urging folks to check out Chick-fil-A, the stores drew huge crowds and the ACLU sided with the CEO.

Aurora CelebBoutique Tweet
CelebBoutique, a UK-based online store, committed the blunder of the uninformed when the fashion company tweeted about “Aurora trending” following the horrific shooting in Colorado. The store deleted the tweet, of course, but what remains unknown is how quickly it was taken down. Call me crazy, but I do believe their “tweeter” did not know about the shooting when posting, and they did respond by apologizing and explaining that their PR is not U.S.-based. However, CelebBoutique’s main blunder was in not performing a wee bit more due diligence as to why “Aurora” was trending. Lesson learned.

Relaxation on Vacation? Yes, It Is Possible

It just works differently for different people! For example, I could never leave the office for a few days with an outgoing email that says! “I will be away from the office with little access to email, so I will get back to you on August 30.” That message actually fills me with anxiety! So, in addition to never actually informing the world of my plans to be away, here are my other ways to guarantee relaxation on vacation.

Prep your people No one can plan for every contingency (especially in PR), but try! Arm your co-workers with all the information they need to proceed without you while you are gone. In addition to giving everyone a status update on current client doings, you might also put someone in charge of checking your emails or calendar or voicemail (if you still get any voicemails!) I also make sure I’ve filed documents in easy-to-find files in case they need to be retrieved.

E but no T I will check my email at least twice a day and respond in a very timely manner. This checking in and checking off some requests etc. helps me stay focused on my trip and not on work. But, while I am happy to email you, I don’t want to talk to you (you, meaning anyone connected with work). That just breaks my vacay vibe altogether.

Be really well-planned I am all for spontaneity once I am in a city, but for certain elements of the trip, I want to be terribly buttoned-up. For example, if I learn of a great restaurant before I get to my destination I am all over Open Table (or its equivalent in other countries) reserving in advance. The same goes for a great museum exhibit or play, I will be sure to relax if I have some major “to-dos” done before I go. Caveat: there is nothing worse than being overplanned! Try to use a site such as Tripit to complete an online itinerary and keep it manageable.

Exercise! Walking around a city touring or swimming in a beautiful ocean does not, to me, constitute exercise. Whatever your regular exercise routine is, don your workout clothes and try to approximate it. In my case, I like to find the exact class I take at home in other cities! This is fun on so many levels and keeps me endorphin-filled and balanced for the duration.

Try to come back mid-day Sunday This is just ideal for me. Knowing that I will have a half a day or so to re-acclimate, open mail, do laundry etc. keeps me unconcerned during the trip and really ready to go back to work refreshed the next day.

Please share your “relaxation on vacation” tips – we can all use them!