The Sunday Share: The Future of PR Isn’t Tomorrow, It’s Now

As a business resource, Slideshare stands pretty much head and shoulders above most other content platforms.

From presentations to educational content and more, you can find information and curated media on pretty much any topic you have an interest in.

As a research solution, Slideshare offers analysis from some of the smartest minds on the web across all verticals.

These include standard presentations, videos, multimedia and more.

Which brings us to this week’s Sunday Share.

Every week, I’ll be sharing a presentation that catches my eye and where I feel you might be interested in the information inside. These will range from business to content to social media to marketing and more.

This week, a little bit of cheating as I share the accompanying presentation for my keynote at the recent You Too Social Media Conference at Kent State University, Ohio.

Sponsored by the Akon Area Public Relations Society of America and the Kent State PRSSA Chapter (student), the event hosted PR professionals, alumnis and students from across the state. This presentation looks at where I see the future of PR, and how it merges with its brethren marketing and advertising.

Enjoy.

The Sunday Share: The Beginner’s Guide to PR for Startups

As a business resource, Slideshare stands pretty much head and shoulders above most other content platforms.

From presentations to educational content and more, you can find information and curated media on pretty much any topic you have an interest in.

As a research solution, Slideshare offers analysis from some of the smartest minds on the web across all verticals.

These include standard presentations, videos, multimedia and more.

Which brings us to this week’s Sunday Share.

Every week, I’ll be sharing a presentation that catches my eye and where I feel you might be interested in the information inside. These will range from business to content to social media to marketing and more.

This week, an excellent presentation from startup consultants Onboardly.

Customer acquisition can sometimes be a challenge for your startup, especially when your energy and resources are focused on other things. This presentation shares best practices on getting great PR for your new venture.

Enjoy.

image: -Reji

The Sunday Share – Social Media Measurement for Solo PR Pros

As a business resource, Slideshare stands pretty much head and shoulders above most other content platforms.

From presentations to educational content and more, you can find information and curated media on pretty much any topic you have an interest in.

As a research solution, Slideshare offers analysis from some of the smartest minds on the web across all verticals. These include standard presentations, videos, multimedia and more.

Which brings us to this week’s Sunday Share.

Every week, I’ll be sharing a presentation that catches my eye and where I feel you might be interested in the information inside. These will range from business to content to social media to marketing and more.

This week, an excellent Slideshare from award-winning PR professional Kami Huyse, founder of Zoetica Media, offering communication services for non-profits and social good.

For many businesses, measuring social media is still an enigma, yet it’s key to knowing whether your strategies are working or not.  This presentation shares how to design PR and marketing programs in social media from the beginning, and what tools can be used without breaking the bank.

Enjoy.

 

There’s Nothing Savvy About Marketing or Newsjacking Disasters

Hijacking bad things

This week, the eastern coast of the U.S. has been battered by Hurricane Sandy, one of the biggest storms to make land in the U.S.

The states of Connecticut, Delaware, District of Colombia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia have all bore the brunt of this “superstorm”.

So far, 16 people in the U.S. are confirmed dead. One woman died in Toronto, Canada after flying debris hit her. 50 people lost their lives in Haiti and the Caribbean as Sandy’s deadly path took shape.

And this is just the early hours of the disaster. Sadly, like any storm of this magnitude, the death toll and damage is likely to be worse yet, not to mention animals and livestock caught up in the devastation.

With all this in mind, you’d think we’d be more concerned about the welfare of those in harm’s way than taking advantage of some cool marketing opportunities, right?

Then again, this is the marketing industry we’re talking about – and I say that as part of that very industry, which is why this appalls me even more.

The Opportunity of Disaster

Yesterday, the inbound marketing business HubSpot published 5 examples of companies that have “newsjacked” (the practice of taking news stories and using them to your advantage) the disaster that is Hurricane Sandy.

HubSpot themselves took some heat in the comments, forcing them to edit the post – although it’s still not worded in a terribly sympathetic way.

Examples included a Hurricane Hair board on Pinterest, to a make-up company advising you how to look great by candlelight and ensure your nails are tip top. Because chipped nails while sifting through the debris of your destroyed home wouldn’t be the done thing, right?

While none of the examples are as tacky as the Kenneth Cole Cairo tweet – and one does offer generators and air mattresses for those affected by the storm – they don’t paint a great picture of the companies either.

The comments on the HubSpot post are pretty split – some defend the companies and their “marketing savvy”, while others call out the practice as well as HubSpot for the article.

As I mentioned earlier, HubSpot felt inclined to edit the post, so it’s possible the article was more “offensive” and some of the commenters didn’t see the earlier version (at a guess).

Can Newsjacking Work?

There’s no doubt that a hot topic is a way to get yourself – personally or professionally – into the “spotlight”. Heck, marketers and bloggers do it all the time on Twitter during various tweetchats, #blogchat often experiencing some of the worst hijacking from people desperate to share their blog posts.

Yet none of these are taking advantage of disasters to sell their product or service. It’s like hacking into the 911 emergency lines to call your girlfriend to save on your phone bill.

Can newsjacking work? For sure – if it’s done right. David Meerman Scott, who wrote the book Newsjacking, offers ways to interlope into other news stories and infiltrate your brand or message, and there are great examples in there.

However, it’s also very telling that David himself commented on the HubSpot piece, with less than a favourable view:

Newsjacking something related to death and destruction is very dangerous. I’m reading this morning that 20 people have died and there is billions of dollars in damage. That’s not fun nor funny.

If your company has a legitimate tie to the disaster and you are genuinely seen as being helpful then okay. For example, a home improvement superstore could blog “just received a shipment of 250 generators in the Boston store.”

But a frivolous attempt at newsjacking to draft off the news of the storm to sell a product unrelated to the storm is bad form and may trigger a negative backlash. A restaurant that says “Storm special – 35% off all appetizers” is not a good idea.

When the guy that wrote the book on newsjacking doesn’t see the benefits of these examples, then you know they’ve missed the boat and, perhaps, HubSpot has too with their article.

Although they also had their own frivolous moment with their specific Facebook post – because, yes, company messages going out are far more important than the company making sure their employees are safe.

5 Hurricane Sandy Newsjacks From Marketers

So who knows..?

Additional reading: Doug Haslam, “Newsjacking” – A Good Idea with Dangerous Pitfalls

A Lack of Real Vision is Stalling the PR Industry

First, a caveat – I don’t know the folks whose quotes I’m about to use as examples of why the PR industry is struggling.

They could be (and probably are) very smart and accomplished business people.

So, this isn’t a “go” at them.

With that being said, however, this recent report/white paper does seem to highlight exactly why the PR industry is continuously seen as one that’s been slow to adapt to the new business landscape and, as such, is holding agencies and consultants back.

First, let’s take a look at the piece.

The PR Firm of the Future

As a precursor to the PRWeek Conference on November 14, Michael Lasky – senior partner and head of PR at law firm Davis & Gilbert LLP – asked this question:

What is the most important way in which the PR agency of 2017 will be different from the PR agency of today?

Michael asked 8 leaders of independent agencies. The responses included:

– Ken Eudy, CEO, Capstrat: “The PR firm of 2017 will increasingly help is clients become publishers and broadcasters… communicating directly with stakeholders without having their messages filtered through traditional media.”

– Maril MacDonald, CEO, Gagen MacDonald: “The successful firm of 2017… will be interested in relationships, not transactions. It will think about the long-term strategy, not short-term tactics. It will add value through a technology-driven collaborative dialogue…”

– Elise Mitchell, CEO, Mitchell Communications Group: “The firm of the future will be known as a business strategist with communications expertise. It will offer integrated services that create solutions… leveraging earned, owned, paid, shared and promoted media in all channels including digital.”

– Jennifer Prosek, CEO, Prosek Partners: “Practitioners in 2017 will be required to think across the marketing mix and successfully drive campaigns versus simply owning the traditional earned media channels. Firms will need to articulate the value of results that engage their audience versus simply offering impressions.

These are just four quotes I pulled from eight agency leaders. Others include:

  • “Providing value at this level is not only the key to establishing lasting partnerships, but also creates a desire… to partner with this organization”;
  • “Multidisciplinary expertise will be the firm’s leading competitive asset”;
  • “THE PR firm of the future… will deploy a mix of paid, earned, owned and shared media that can be monitored and measured directly in real time.”

All good stuff. All good advice. If this weren’t already happening today in 2012, versus what should happen in 2017.

The PR Firm of Today and Yesterday

While there are some good quotes from the assembled eight agency folks, the “problem”, if you like, is that they were asked what the PR firm of the future would look like.

So, you’d kind of hope/expect to hear stuff that no-one’s really doing at the minute, or ideas that are really pushing the industry forward.

Unfortunately, the majority of the soundbites would be futuristic if they were answers from circa 2008/2009.

Suggestions that brands become publishers and broadcasters, for example, miss how well blogs and social networks have been used by brands and agencies for the last 3-4 years.

You only need to look at programs like Sony’s Digital Dads, or Ford’s blogger outreach campaigns, to see how well this has been done in the last few years. And smaller businesses are increasingly using blogs to educate their audience and grow their customer audience and loyalty.

Then there’s the prediction that the PR firm of the future will deploy a mix of paid, earned, owned and shared media while being able to monitor and measure in real time.

When I was working on a RIM account back in 2009 to launch the Bold 9700 in the U.S., we used a collaborative strategy that saw us involve Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to create a fully interactive experience for you and your friends. This was supplemented by paid media ads as well as partnerships with BlackBerry communities.

We measured and identified where the campaign was working, where it needed help, and which communities were driving real value and worth around the promotion.

The result was millions of impressions, thousands of handsets pre-ordered and sold, and an industry award for the campaign itself.

That was in 2009 – and I know we weren’t the first to use true integration in campaigns.

The Future is Now

And this is exactly why this “prediction paper” just adds to the view that PR is being left behind, versus countering that belief.

There’s no doubt that there are great agencies doing great things. Companies like Arment Dietrich, RKPR, Mullen, Voce, V3 and more. And the reason they’re leading the way today is because they’re already practicing what’s being predicted for 2017.

They’re integrating channels and expertise now. They’re not silo’ing PR from marketing from digital from strategy from creative and more – they’re running these as fully integrated ideas from the start, and have been for years.

My friend Rick Rice, a 35-year industry veteran, sums it up best with this quote:

The PR business is in need of disruptive change and none of this generation are even willing to try.

There’s no doubt the PR industry has a perception problem, and it’s great to see it trying to move forward. I just wonder how far it can move when it still seems to be behind the curve on so many things…