Friday, May 25, 2007

New Ways of "Doing" Public Relations

I recently gave a talk to the Granite State Referral Network in Manchester, NH (of which I am the current secretary) titled "New Ways to Think About “Doing” P.R." Here are a few of those "new" ways - which are more common sense than "new," but so many businesspeople have forgotten them, they just seem new:
  • Be Preemptive: Don’t wait for you or your business to be “in trouble” to build a reputation, or improve it, act NOW to make good things happen.
  • Be Unexpected: Doing something new, clever, interesting or (best of all) better than anyone else is the way to get noticed.
  • Be Explanatory: Let people know what you’re doing - the good things, the new things, the different ways of doing things - in a clear, concise and easy-to-understand manner.
  • Be Adaptable to Change: Be prepared in your business to think in a fresh way. Be ready for rapid, disorienting change. Be ready to scrap your business plan. And be ready to talk about all this, openly, with your publics - those whom you serve and with which you do business (or hope to do business in the future.)

Who's using (and needs) P.R. now?

Who needs P.R.?

Britney Spears, surely. But she needs “away time” to deal with her “issues,” not more “publicity.” (And besides, she probably needs a new publicist at this point, too.)

Don Imus? True. Though his plan to contest his firing will keep his name in lights - and that’s not a good thing, either. There are other, more productive ways to rehabilitate his image, such as focusing on his charity work.

But Tommy Hilfiger got the best boost in recent weeks by using P.R. to counter a myth.

He appeared on Oprah Winfrey's show for the first time, ever. Contrary to a long-time Urban Legend, he didn’t get thrown off the show many years ago because he said his clothes were "only for rich white people.”

In fact, the May 2, 2007 appearance was his first. So ignore the email spam saying otherwise when you get it (as I have on many occasions) saying he's some kind of bigot.

Also, I’ve recently heard that a P.R. firm was hired to rehabilitate Katie Couric by having her go on TV and radio to preempt her firing from CBS news. She apparently is balking at having to “campaign” to save her job, and refused several appearances. Not a good move, given her ratings.

All of these people need a degree of Public Relations help. Some need to work out some issues in their lives beforehand. P.R. people can't make things right unless the client is making them right, first. An apology is a good start when you mess up, but it's not credible unless you're actually apologizing from the heart and making changes in your life, too.