Playing offense with public relations


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An outline of essential PR program elements to take your public relations program from reactive to proactive, developed for the Austin chapter of the Society for Marketing Professional Services

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  • Standing in front of a burning building facing a bunch of cameras? Explaining away a salacious affair of one of your executives? Being grilled on 60 minutes after an accident about your company’s safety record and reports of widespread safety violations in your industry?
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  • Playing offense with public relations

    1. 1. Playing Offense with Public Relations June 26, 2009 For: The Society for Marketing Professional Services, Austin chapter
    2. 2. Perceptions of PR <ul><li>When I say “public relations,” what comes to mind? </li></ul>
    3. 3. Truth is… <ul><li>That type of crisis communications is about 5% of public relations </li></ul><ul><li>And if that’s the first time you’re thinking about PR, there’s not much it can do for you anyway </li></ul><ul><li>The other 95% is the true value of proactive PR (which can make that critical 5% more effective) </li></ul>
    4. 4. The Benefits <ul><li>Creates awareness in your markets, both among prospects and prospective employees </li></ul><ul><li>Maximizes the value of other communications </li></ul><ul><li>Elevates the credibility and perceived professionalism of your company </li></ul><ul><li>Mitigates the impact of a crisis for your organization </li></ul>
    5. 5. The best crisis comms is before a crisis <ul><li>If a crisis is the first time the public hears from you, they’re less likely to believe what you say </li></ul><ul><li>Rather, if you’re regularly featured in news and known as an active supporter of your community, you’re more likely to get the benefit of the doubt during a crisis </li></ul><ul><li>Proactive PR is also important after a crisis to push those negative Google search results down and become known as more than “that company that had the accident” </li></ul>
    6. 6. You’ve probably heard this before… <ul><li>“ I’ve been in the business 25 years. I know everyone there is to know. PR can’t do anything for me.” </li></ul>
    7. 7. Really? <ul><li>They may know the project managers and others directly involved in a job, but do they know every school board member, director, administrator, regulator and others that influence firm selection? </li></ul><ul><li>The population of Texas will double by 2020 = New jobs and new contacts they don’t know yet. </li></ul><ul><li>Every owner is concerned about growth and succession. A company can’t survive executive retirement or launch into a new market if all its credibility is based on personal relationships. </li></ul>
    8. 8. What can proactive PR do for you? <ul><li>Build firm credibility to absorb executive changes, attract new projects and create positive perceptions among all involved in a new business pitch </li></ul><ul><li>Put deposits in your goodwill bank to mitigate the impact of future crises </li></ul><ul><li>Maximize the value and return on investment of other communication initiatives, particularly as the media landscape changes and traditional tactics like advertising become less effective. </li></ul>
    9. 9. Three most common elements of a proactive PR program <ul><li>Traditional media relations </li></ul><ul><li>New media relations </li></ul><ul><li>Community relations </li></ul>Of course, PR entails a LOT more, but in one hour, we’ll stick to these.
    10. 10. Traditional Media Relations <ul><li>Contrary to the pundits’ perceptions , mainstream media is still very much alive </li></ul><ul><li>Important to understand what it can do : highlight your expertise and point of view on current topics and trends </li></ul><ul><li>And what it cannot do for you : Replace advertising as a venue to pitch your products and services </li></ul>
    11. 11. Traditional media: How it works <ul><li>Define your targets: Geographically, by industry </li></ul><ul><li>Identify news outlets that reach your targets </li></ul><ul><li>Align your expertise with the focus / format of the news outlet </li></ul><ul><li>Target individual reporters / editors </li></ul><ul><li>Professionally and persistently, explain how your idea helps them meet their editorial mission </li></ul><ul><li>Prepare your executives for interviews or assist with contributed material </li></ul><ul><li>Suggest additional resources to reporters </li></ul><ul><li>Repurpose resulting articles and coverage for marketing value </li></ul>
    12. 12. Traditional media: Notice what’s missing <ul><li>News releases – They have a place, but it shouldn’t be the core part of your program </li></ul><ul><li>Payment to the publication – Beware of any paid “editorial opportunities” </li></ul><ul><li>Reviewing the article before it’s published </li></ul><ul><li>Generally, control of the process </li></ul>
    13. 13. “ New” Media Relations <ul><li>Entails more interaction, even less control than traditional media relations </li></ul><ul><li>Begin by “Going where they are,” rather than requiring them to come to you </li></ul><ul><li>Use a different approach – no “corporate speak,” appreciate the contrarian viewpoint </li></ul>
    14. 14. New media relations: How it works <ul><li>Expand targets to include bloggers and other online outlets </li></ul><ul><li>Monitor target outlets prodigiously to understand subject matter and style </li></ul><ul><li>Make executives aware of relevant articles / posts and encourage them to comment </li></ul><ul><li>Follow target reporters on Twitter to learn more about them, pitch them more effectively </li></ul><ul><li>Consider search engine optimization for news releases </li></ul><ul><li>Consider a Twitter feed as your own “news distribution channel” </li></ul>
    15. 15. New media relations: Things to know <ul><li>Requires giving up almost total control to many throughout your organization; make sure your corporate culture can accommodate that </li></ul><ul><li>Will take time to determine which outlets really have influence </li></ul><ul><li>New media landscape is constantly changing; Must stay on top of it to keep your approach relevant and effective </li></ul>
    16. 16. Community Relations <ul><li>How many of your organizations support some type of charitable cause? </li></ul><ul><li>How are decisions made about that support? </li></ul><ul><li>What do you do to promote your involvement in that charity externally? </li></ul><ul><li>Community relations can make these charitable initiatives deliver marketing value. </li></ul>
    17. 17. Community relations: Develop a strategy <ul><li>Are there 10 people in each city you serve that you really need to influence? Where are they active in the community? </li></ul><ul><li>Can you find a charitable organization that aligns with your company’s mission or the mission of your key vertical market? </li></ul><ul><li>How should geography figure into your strategy? Should you find one charity that serves all your markets or choose individual charities in each market? </li></ul><ul><li>What discretion do your business development professionals need to sponsor events or make donations to solidify key relationships? </li></ul>Use all these factors to define your organization’s civic engagement strategy.
    18. 18. Community relations: Key elements <ul><li>Define your organization’s philosophy. For example, “At ACME Engineering, we support charities that promote math and science education for young girls.” </li></ul><ul><li>Select an organization to which your company will donate the bulk of its charitable gifts. </li></ul><ul><li>Outline the tactics you’ll use to implement that strategy, such as participation by employees in three events per year, purchasing the title sponsorship for the annual gala and encouraging an executive to sit on the board of directors. </li></ul>
    19. 19. Community relations: Value <ul><li>Clearly define your goals for community engagement to accurately measure value. </li></ul><ul><li>May not be purely financial. For example, “strengthen our relationship with ACME Construction” or “enhance visibility among the higher education market.” </li></ul><ul><li>Maximize your value by involving employees and taking advantage of associated PR opportunities. </li></ul>
    20. 20. Community relations: Benefits <ul><li>Enhances your visibility among prospects and potential employees. </li></ul><ul><li>Provides a tool to decline charitable requests without risking reputation damage. </li></ul><ul><li>Ends internal disputes over who’s pet charity will be supported and who’s will not. </li></ul><ul><li>Puts deposits into your goodwill bank, should you ever need to draw on them after a crisis. </li></ul>
    21. 21. Summary <ul><li>The most valuable public relations takes place before a crisis occurs. </li></ul><ul><li>Media relations can extend the reach of all your marketing initiatives. </li></ul><ul><li>New media holds many opportunities, but requires a different approach. </li></ul><ul><li>Strategic community relations can enhance the value of your charitable activities. </li></ul>
    22. 22. Questions? Call me… Stacy Armijo Vice President Pierpont Communications 512-448-4950 [email_address] Twitter: @Stacy_Armijo