Friday, January 09, 2009

Six Ways PR Must Change in 2009

1. PR must be an opportunity to tell the truth - PR is not synonymous with lying, it’s not obfuscation, it’s not a delaying tactic, it’s a tool to disseminate the truth about our clients that positions them in a favorable light with their customers and other publics. The sooner PR as a profession understands that, the sooner the negative stereotypes of the procession (stereotypes which are, sadly, grounded in reality) will change.

2. PR must leverage online social media effectively - Social media plays a huge role in how messages are disseminated in 2009. PR professionals must understand how social media outlets work, how to use them effectively to target messages to the right consumers, and how NOT to abuse it.

3. PR cannot rely on hype - Consumers are increasingly savvy in their assessment of the messages that bombard them. The idea that hype (false and/or exaggerated claims meant to gain fleeting attention) can be used to somehow cut through that clutter has to be debunked frequently. Consumers of media, especially those in Generations X and Y, can smell hype a mile away, and it will instantly backfire on those who use it.

4. PR has to be a management function - A true partnership with clients, at the boardroom level, is required to quickly and effectively get messages to consumers. The days when a client “forgets” to reveal the most damaging parts of a story being disseminated by their PR professional are over. PR professionals will demand a place at the table where the decisions are made - not to make the company’s decisions for them, but to be able to make fully informed decisions about the best methods to narrowcast their decisions to relevant publics.

5. PR must assume all information will eventually leak - Social media and the immediacy of the Internet, combined with good old fashioned leaks, mean that all potentially damaging information will become public eventually, and will even more seriously damage the company’s brand. (See: Apple’s ongoing attempts to hide Steve Jobs’ continuing health problems.)

6. Relevancy must be spelled out in news releases - Reporters have always asked, “How is this relevant to me?” even if they didn’t verbalize it. Now, more than ever, with a vastly greater amount of information flooding newsrooms, and fewer reporters to process it, relevancy is a critical thing to spell out, right there in the text of the news release. Releases much change in format as well as content to reflect the information environment we’re in now. The evolution will continue throughout 2009 and the coming decade, but it begins with adding a clear statement of relevancy to every release.


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