In early January I posted a blog on the “Top 10 Priorities for Tech PR Professionals in 2010.” I received quite a few comments on the blog itself as well as through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and email.
I waited a month and now have decided to re-post it with a single additional priority and some minor changes. The most evident is in the title, now “Top 11 Priorities for PR Professionals in 2010.” I left out “tech” because they are relevant to PR pros across practice areas. I added one priority (thanks to Lucy for the important reminder): “Building Communities”, now priority #6.
Here the revised post:
There’s no doubt that 2009 was a year that (further) changed our job as PR professionals. As I’m sure you’ve heard a million times, it’s an all new, ever changing world and we need to learn, move and adapt quickly. But, in concrete terms, what does that mean?
From my point of view (mostly from the agency side) I thought I’d list out the priorities for a tech PR practitioner in 2010. I think they stand for both experienced professionals and people just getting into PR.
One thing is for sure: our job is indeed getting more and more complex, challenging, and fascinating. All three qualities that have kept me in the same business for so many years.
1. Becoming a Content Creator. Technologies and the media environment are making it possible for companies to reach out to their stakeholders directly. PR must lead content creation. Cisco has done that very well for quite some time now, with News@Cisco. IBM is now following with the recent hire of Steve Hamm. I am sure many others will follow. A content strategy is pivotal in any good public relations program.
2. Telling Stories Visually. As PR professionals we need to become better visual storytellers. Read The Back of the Napkin for inspiration – you can get the new companion workbook to put Roam’s principles into practice on Amazon.
3. Learn how to use multimedia tools. Now that you’ve put Content and Visual Storytelling at the center, learn how to make news using all the multimedia tools available and how to develop and manage an editorial calendar (or hire people who do it well.) We will see more journalists getting in-house to do precisely this. Steve Hamm at IBM won’t be the only one.
4. Get a Room! I mean a media room. Nowadays it is so much easier to have a studio close to your executives or your clients so you can easily shoot video without taking away a lot of their time. This can be very handy in times of crisis where you want a quick response. In this post you can find specific suggestions on my favorite equipment.
5. Become a social media expert (if you are not one already.) Social Media is integrated in everything we do. PR professionals that are not at least proficient in Social Media, are going to be obsolete before the end of the year. So, don’t rely only on “experts”. Become an expert.
6. Building Communities
Once you create great content, whether you are a b2b or a b2c company, and engage your stakeholders in conversations, you have a golden opportunity: “to build a community for users, influencers, advocates, product champions, experts, partners, etc. around your brand, products or services.” per Lucy’s comment in my previous post. I am sure that in 2010 we will start to see more and more community manager job opportunities in the marketplace.
7. Think 360. Talking about integration, don’t stop at social media. Think about all the communication disciplines. Clients and companies face communication or reputation (or both) challenges. Rarely can something be solved by one communication discipline. PR, AR Marketing, IR, HR (Internal Communication), and in some instances Sales and Customer Service needs to work together in a more integrated way than ever before. My good old friend Sue from the UK call it “hybridise”. “PR practitioners must increasingly learn how to bring in elements from traditionally competitive marketing disciplines.”
8. Develop new services and become more efficient. More for less is here to stay. Now that companies have learned (by necessity) to do and demand from their agency partners to get more for less, why would they go back to getting less for more? For agencies that means providing higher-value services and be more efficient in providing traditional support.
9. Identify the right measurement criteria for your needs. If #8 is true (and believe me, it is), ROI is going to be even more important than before. Flexible measurement solutions, that cost less than 10% of the total investment, will become critical for the success of a Corporate Communication department and for the agency.
10. Integrate your customers in your PR planning. As consumers are co-brand managers, really playing a major role in shaping global brands like Google, Apple and Ford, B2B companies need to work closely with their customers so they can become co-brand managers too. What they say, think or write about will affect your reputation and brand building. A hint? It’s not just about developing and pitching case studies.
11. Understand where influence begins and how it works. Too often I hear that PR is going to die (yawn) because social media is changing the media landscape so there is less and less traditional media. The reality is that PR is not only media relations. The big opportunity for PR professionals is to understand the new “influencer” landscape to a greater detail than before. Understand the ecosystem where your company or client belongs to, and how to engage those influencers and the people who influence them. A colleague of mine suggested that I read the “best book on Influence ever written : Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. I’ve just downloaded it on my kindle but since I trust my friend I am sure it’s very good and want it to share it with you sight unseen.
Have a wonderful 2010!
In today’s changing media landscape, many of us are looking for ways to make waves. Surveys can be a great way to accomplish that. I have done a few surveys in the past, but recently it seems that colleagues of mine are doing more of these and looking for guidance, so I thought I would share some best practices for developing and promoting surveys.
1. Select a topic that is not self-serving. For example, if you’re a b2b company with little brand recognition, pick a topic that a broader audience would be interested in, rather than one that answers questions about how well-known your product or solution is within your industry.
2. Write the headlines. I have found that one of the easiest ways to begin developing survey questions is to start backwards. Write a few sensational headlines that you would like to see and then work backwards to develop questions that will get you there.
3. Determine cost and 3rd party research firm. Depending on available time and resources, you may want to think through the type of survey you want to do. An Omnibus survey is an efficient, easy way to get quick results. On the other hand, if you have a bigger budget, you may want to consider an in-depth survey that polls a larger sample and takes a little bit longer. Regardless of the type of survey, you should use an independent 3rd party research firm.
4. Shop the final results around with a few select reporters early. While it seems like reporters are no longer doing exclusives these days, many reporters still like to see the information early before it’s released, particularly if they want to sift through raw data (which many of them will).
5. Ensure raw data and spokespersons are available. These are two key elements that reporters will ask for. They will want to see a full copy of the survey results (beyond what is in the press release), access to the 3rd party survey firm to validate the survey, and an expert from the company who can interpret the results.
Finally, when you and your team are ready to begin pitching the survey results, pitch, pitch, pitch! Think outside of your traditional reporters and expand your list to wires, bloggers, news services, etc. to ensure maximum reach and coverage.
Today’s news that the National Enquirer is planning to apply for a Pulitzer is an important reminder of today’s changing media landscape. We all read daily about the emergence of blogs and social media sites as new sources of news and information, but it’s important to remember that even traditional print media is changing its ways and redefining its focus. If a publication best known for announcing alleged alien invasions can break a major political news story, than what other changes might we see from print media in the coming years? Less tawdry examples abound. Consumer tech coverage has steadily increased in top tier business publications like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Meanwhile, Newsweek revamped its format in 2009 to include a much heavier emphasis on politics and public policy.
The National Enquirer probably won’t be the way to go when pitching your next tech client, but the publication’s progress teaches PR professionals an important lesson in the constantly evolving focus of print media: know your target.
By that I mean, get a media room.
Nowadays it’s so much easier to have a studio near where your executives or your clients are so you can easily shoot video without taking away a lot of their time. In a time of crisis, this allows for a quick response.
In this post some suggestions on the equipment to buy:
According to PR Newser Ken Auletta reports in his book, Googled that Larry Page told his PR department that he would give them “a total of eight hours of his time that year for press conferences, speeches, or interviews.”
Supposedly the Google founders aren’t fond of PR. Although Google apparently has 130 people working in the PR department so maybe they don’t find PR so distasteful after all . . .
The interesting thing, to me anyway, is that if I were Larry Page - and I’m a long way from being Larry Page - I’d probably do the same thing. In fact it strikes me as a pretty sensible approach for Google right now.
Let me explain.
A lot of times public relations professionals focus on two things - the message and the pitch - at the expense of all else. But there’s a third quality - connected to messaging and pitching - that we don’t spend enough time thinking about and that is at the heart of strategic public relations: the narrative.
The narrative, as the name implies, is the story of the company or organization over a set period of time. It has protagonists, antagonists, plots, plot devices, climaxes and denouements. There’s never just one of course and large brands such as Google always have several narratives they want to be associated with, several they wish people would forget, and several they hope never get told.
There was a time when the ’silicon valley whiz kids behind that oddly-named new search engine’ made sense as Google’s dominant narrative. That narrative got old a long time ago. The story Google is telling now, the narrative they deserve to be known for, needs to be spun around the various ways they are unlocking access to various types of data and the incredible array of talent - beyond Brin and Page - who are making that happen.
The Page/Brin celebrity gets in the way of that narrative and obscures it. It may be harder to secure a journalist’s attention without them - I wouldn’t know - but if staying consistent with the right narrative takes more work then isn’t that what you have to do?
At the Australian launch of Windows7 today, Microsoft has invited Twitter followers to take part, with the event being streamed live through Ustream.tv . These followers have the chance to engage directly with senior Microsoft executives, and during the Q&A session, every fourth question will come directly from the Twitter feed.
However, a number of journalists are not keen. First they would prefer questions only come from journalists at the event itself. Second, they’re worried the Twitter questions will be filtered and that only the easy ones will be answered. Third, they’re concerned it will take up too much time and give real journalists less opportunity to table their questions. But with only 140 characters and no follow up, it’s not likely to be a time consuming exercise.
One alternative suggestion put forward by a journalist is to run a Q&A by the likes of Slashdot and Digg, where questions are crowd sourced, than a top ten are posed to the interviewee and would better represent what the audience wants to know.
Either way, it will be interesting to see how it goes and the reaction. Twitter is now common place on TV with live studio audience shows using it to get questions in real time from viewers.
How many other PRs, particularly from the tech sector, are incorporating Twitter feeds like this into big events? What has the feedback been? Keen to hear what people think.
There is a vast amount of research that has been conducted recently regarding the consumers’ preferred method of receiving marketing communication. A recent study by Forrester Research, and commissioned by ExactTarget, highlights that the majority of consumers today still have a strong affinity towards email.
The important take out: Consumers prefer email at a rate of three-to-one when compared with any other avenue for marketing communications such as social media, Instant Messaging, phone and SMS!
Despite the abundance of research that all points towards email being the marketing method of choice for consumers, why do marketers continue to ignore this?
Despite the spike of Internet users using social media, for example three quarters of Australian online adults now use social technologies (Forrester: Australian Adult Social Technographics Revealed 2008), as a general rule, consumers are NOT open to receiving marketing communication via this channel.
As social media continues to boom with new channels for communication being created everyday (with new social networking sites and the like popping up), there is an overreliance and tendency to use this medium for all-purposes in order to reach the masses.
Unfortunately we forego the very fundamental principles of Marketing 101.
We need to stop, think, plan and go back to basics:
Who are our customers?
Where are they?
What are their preferences for receiving marketing messages?
What are the right messages for each customer segment?
What channel do we use to reach them?
A quick Google search and some top line research is enough to reveal where our customers’ preferences sit. It’s all very simple. Follow the basic principles of marketing and target the right marketing messages to the right audience based on their preferences using the appropriate channels!
Yet sadly we are missing the point! We’re frustrating consumers and, ultimately, not getting the outcomes that we desire!
Last week, Strategy + Business published an article titled, “What a Declining Business Media Means to CEOs.”
While this article was written for CEO’s, I think it’s important to understand what this means for PR professionals. The declining business media is not news to the PR industry, but as we come to terms with this change, we need to be smart on how we can help.
Basically the article argues that as cost cutting narrows the field of business journalism, it has become more difficult to put out a corporate story. And for the journalists at the remaining business publications, they are increasingly unable to offer insightful business coverage. The author goes on to say that there are basically three consequences for business decision makers: business coverage could become more negative toward profit and enterprise than it is today, corporate decision makers have less of a platform to display their company’s strategy and corporate leaders now have fewer opportunities to learn from one another’s experience, or even to know what’s going on in their regions and industries. The article offers suggestions for CEO’s, but I would like to offer a few tips to help PR professionals be effective as possible in this changing landscape.
1 – Continue to make it easy for journalists. We know that as PR professionals we need to offer journalists (especially young, inexperienced ones) all the facts. We need to build the story for them, and make it as easy as possible. Not only do we need to continue doing that, but we need to take it one step further and facilitate from A to Z. If they aren’t going to ask the challenging questions, let’s address them upfront for them. If we know others are going to criticize the company, then lets offer an alternative POV from a third-party. We need to help journalists collect all the facts so that they are able to write well-balanced, insightful stories.
2 – Don’t give up on traditional media. Do not let your CEO give up because he doesn’t understand Twitter. While the business media landscape is definitely getting more challenging and the use of social media mediums are increasing, it is not the death of business media. In this changing environment, there are still opportunities to meet with business reporters and have your story told. We need to work with senior executives to help them tell their story in a way that is relevant to a business media audience and offers a fresh perspective.
3 – Capitalize on existing communications platforms where you control the message. For example, earnings calls. If you know you will already have the attention of a group of reporters, use that time to explain how your company’s performance impacts the industry and world. Work with the CFO or CEO to tell journalists something they don’t already know or can’t get from the press release.
In this declining business media environment, we shouldn’t forget that some of the core, proven media relations tactics can still work, if executed well. However, have the conversation with your CEO and other senior executives sooner rather than later, so they are educated on what is happening. Many of them may not want to believe it or hear it. Let them know it’s a change they need to embrace but that there are ways to work together to address the challenges ahead.
Last week I had the pleasure of representing Ogilvy PR at the Washington Business Journal’s event honoring the fifty fastest growing companies in the Washington, DC area.
While horrified to discover a concoction named the ‘Ogiltini‘ that the organizers had thoughtfully dreamed up, I was truly amazed - and pleased - to discover that the ‘fast 50′ generated $14.15 billion in 2008 revenue and some of them had average annual growth rates in excess of 100%. (Data center company DuPont Fabros Technology, the fastest of the fast, grew a ridiculous 328.44%)
As a long-time tech PR person my attention, naturally, was drawn to how technology companies fared. I expected to see a large number of government contractors on the list and, while I was right, I was surprised at the scale; the federal government was the primary customer of almost half the companies on the list (20 out of 50).
In fact, the dominance of companies selling some sort of technology product or service to the government was so overwhelming that no other industry had more than 3 companies represented on the entire list.
So what does this mean? Well, for starters the government is clearly open for business and companies with an IT services offering should be in a position to do particularly well.
But the government isn’t the only game in town. Companies like DuPont Fabros Technology, Apptix, Vocus, Blackboard and iCore may not address the same market but are all part of the broad technology community and proof that - along with the government-focused IT companies - while we may not be Silicon Valley, tech has home in DC as well.
Should anonymous commenting on blogs, forums, social networking sites and microblogging sites such as Twitter be allowed? Is it ethical?
I’m inclined to lean strongly towards the negative argument. l’d suggest that anonymous posting goes against the very fundamental principles behind social media and the importance of authenticity and transparency when operating in online communities. It’s therefore very interesting to see that there are new online tools and services popping up that encourage this very behaviour.
Two of the latest examples are as follows:
One of the services implies tweeting for ‘good’ and the other for ‘bad’.
I’ll be interested to see the sorts of tweets that get shared on both of these services. I’m particularly interested to know what sort of tweets make it to the ‘Tweet From Above’ service. If there’s something good to share - a fabulous CSR initiative by a company, something great that a colleague has helped you with, your love of Sunsilk shampoo - why not put your name to it and share it with the world?
I can understand the reason for not putting your name to posts that comes from ‘Tweet From Below’, but surely this is just another service that has the potential to flare up cyber-bullying!
Are there any valid reasons for commenting anonymously? The assumption would be that one would only do so if they have something to hide. Perhaps what they are posting is factually incorrect or perhaps they are simply gossip mongering. Whatever the case, I don’t agree with it.
I’d be keen to hear if anyone has any thoughts on when anonymous commenting would be permissible.
David Carlson: Social Media and Traditional PR