PR isn’t dead — it just has to adjust

Many blogs focus on whether or not PR is dead. On how PR needs to adapt to this new Digital world. And on how the PR guys “don’t get it.” I will not ‘go there’, however. I have promised my friends in Public Relations to not be controversial and to stay away from anything that might impact their future.

Instead, I will take a few minutes and highlight some of the differences between on Traditional PR and New PR.

Traditional PR consists of:

  • Developing key talking points for executives
  • Encouraging leaders to speak to and follow closely those talking points
  • Providing ‘public speaking’ training to ensure that an execs stick to the points and so they learn how to position their body, their eyes, etc.
  • Organizing internal employee related announcements
  • Reaching out to key reporters and analysts around launch time or when a big event happens

New PR consists of:

  • Providing guardrails and guidelines on how to speak to others outside the company
  • Maintaining ongoing relationships with key customer advocates
  • Establishing ongoing relationships with key influencers – bloggers, tweeters, online analysts (like Om Malik)
  • Monitoring online and offline publications on a daily basis (at least on a daily basis)
  • Leading and harnessing employee engagement
  • Preparing for and reacting to Crisis’
  • Crowdsourcing ideas from internal employees and from external customers and prospects – and your business partners
  • Listening closely to and reading closely to influencers
  • Learning to let go – and not control the message all the time
  • Scrapping key learnings, statements, etc off the web on an ongoing basis

But all of the above first requires that PR embrace this new world of transparency and authenticity. So, if you are a company communications person, I recommend the following 10 key points:

  1. Learn how to use the tools (email me if you want a list)
  2. Participate on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (or at least pick one)
  3. Understand how to use Video (obviously, this will continue to be important)
  4. Study mobile and iPad type of platforms
  5. Post once a day
  6. Dedicate at least 30 minutes a day to topics relevant to your company, your competitors, your products and current trends
  7. Focus on multiple stakeholders: Employees, business partners, shareholders and customers (Many companies forget customers).
  8. Develop a distribution strategy to share learnings with others  in the company
  9. Stay away from a silo’d organization approach – you and your coworkers are all in this together
  10. Measure, measure, measure… establish baseline KPIs and keep track of how you and your team are moving the needle over time

After talking to several companies for this post, it seems that the majority of companies still focus a great deal of energy on Traditional PR tactics. They haven’t put the time and energy into learning some of the new social tools that could make their job a whole lot easier (and less time consuming).

And of course, there are some companies that still try to control what their employees say. (And in some cases, they try and control what their customers say). Why is there so much fear about employees saying the wrong thing online and bringing down a company?

A good friend of mine in PR the other day admitted that he tries to control what his employees say on Facebook. This raises a question of trust for me. If you can’t trust your employees, whom can you trust?

OK, maybe a young person might not know how to handle a call from a tough Wall-Street reporter, but I am sure a little training and guidance could help out with that.

Bottom line: It’s important to always feel for the pulse of you’re the various groups of people who interact with your products and services AND your competitors products and services. There are many tools for monitoring and running an ongoing audit of what people are saying? Nothing can ever replace, however, reading verbatim of what customers and prospects are saying.

Disclaimer: This is written by someone who has managed PR Teams at Borders, KBToys and eToys where old PR existed.  I also worked closely with a great PR team at Intuit. This is written by my experiences working on the client side of the business.

So, I am sure I am missing some key points. Jump in and let me know what you would change.

(Note: This blog post was originally posted on GetSatisfaction.com)

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