Wednesday, April 22, 2009

PR ≠ Media Relations Only

I was reading Heidi Cohen's piece on ClickZ entitled 'PR goes Multichannel' (pretty good overview of how marketers need to start understanding the new PR landscape) and I couldn't ignore the comment someone made at the bottom (it wasn't me):
Way to go on misunderstanding what public relations is about completely, and helping to continue spreading misinformation about the field. What you're talking about is traditional media relations. Media relations... not public relations. Media relations (let's say it again - MEDIA relations) is just one small part of public relations. Public relations as a whole is not losing its effectiveness. In fact it's becoming immensely more important in the social media age, where conversations and reputation management happen in real time. Only those who don't truly understand what public relations entails consider it simply a part of a marketing plan - precisely why marketing folks should stop trying to explain the benefits of public relations which they don't fully understand themselves. You do make a few good points (impressed to see a marketing professional acknowledge that SEO is actually a PR tool), but please stop equating media relations to public relations. That only does readers a disservice.

While the commenter's tone is a bit harsh, the definition of public relations IS SO MUCH BROADER than media relations. I see this time and time again - marketers and even some companies thinking that public relations is just a function of publicity to either raise awareness or promote thought leadership. In essence PR = media relations (press coverage).

The backlash against public relations professionals for the past few years is due to the fact that some agencies (like companies) and independent practitioners are struggling to adapt in the new social media landscape. It's not enough to know what these social media tools are (although that's a good start!). PR Pros now need to know how to suggest, develop, create, and technically maintain relevant content to enhance an organization's brand awareness and/or market share across the social media platforms. As I am very fond of telling my clients: Setting-up/establishing social media platforms is inexpensive, but development and creation of compelling content and sustained engagement is not. Companies will have to devote resources across deployed strategic communication tactics and tools to ensure that they not only receive a high ROI, but they ACTUALLY move towards accomplishing their business development goals.

Trolling for ink does nothing but infuriate the journalists and publications companies hope to influence. GONE are the days of dialing for dollars and sending out a pitch via e-mail to a large media list because those are the contacts your media database says are relevant (Reminder: Always vet the lists, read the blogs/articles and do your research BEFORE pitching). Even the well crafted pitch and press release (still relevant BTW), need to be reconsidered and revamped to engage with relevant stakeholders across different communication platforms.

To me the biggest misconception in our industry is that public relations is just about publicity and not about sustained engagement (that why I don't like the word "BUZZ"). Print and even online press coverage will not continue to yield the results companies want in terms of engagement and awareness with target audiences.

Print and trade publications are not dead (yet) and a pure social media strategy may or may not yield the results a company wants ("If a tree falls," analogy). Bottom line: A BALANCED marketing communications strategy is a company/organization's best bet to achieving its goals. There is no "right" one answer per se, but there are best practices and case studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of utilizing ALL aspects of public relations and marketing strategies to achieve desired business outcomes.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Resources for Those Looking for A Job

I've met a lot of communication professionals looking for jobs lately. Even in today's tough economy, there are lots of companies and organizations looking for talented pros.

Below I have listed some of my favorite job sites. Please feel free to suggest additional sites in the comments section of this post.

The Brad Traverse Group - A subscription site ($5/month) the Brad Traverse Group lists jobs in and around the DC area for those interested in public affairs, public relations, media and consulting. It's worth the $5 a month as many jobs are exclusively listed and will not appear anywhere else. - A job listing aggregator, will save your searches and let you know how many new jobs have been listed since your last search, saving you time. I really like Indeed because it is simple and efficient.

Ned's Job of the Week - Ned's list (available for view on the Web site) highlights jobs in defense, communications, and event marketing/promotion. While the job listings span the globe, there are quite a few in DC Metro Area. - An online publication for those on and around Capital Hill, lists on and off the Hill jobs for those interested. Some are political, some aren't. Definitely worth a look.

Social Media Jobs - For social media and digital strategy pros, Social Media Jobs lists opportunities nationwide.

Other job sites for PR Pros/Communicators:

O'Dwyer's PR Job Seekers and Employers

PRWeek Jobs

Ragan Communications (A great site for corporate and internal communicators) (Great for independent consultants. Also lists some short time and permanent positions)

Public Affairs Council (Government relations, associations, public affairs, policy and communications positions)

DC Public Affairs + Communications Jobs (Great blog that seems to catch and list hot jobs in the DC Area and beyond)

For those interested in nonprofits:

Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, DC Chapter - You will have to register to gain access to its career center, but registration is free and it's a great way to network.

This by no means a comprehensive list. I am happy to update it with additional suggestions.

Twitter is emerging as THE place to be for those looking for a job to learn about new opportunities. If you aren't on Twitter yet, I highly recommend joining and following those in our industry.

Now go out there and find your next opportunity!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Happy Birthday HARO!

Congratulations to Peter Shankman, the brilliant founder of Help A Reporter Out (HARO), which is celebrating its one-year anniversary today.

Peter, thank you for providing a valuable resource to your fellow PR Pros and businesses who want to tell journalists their stories.  I look forward the morning, afternoon and evening editions of HARO.  You have truly made a difference in media relations by connecting journalists who need resources with the professionals and businesses who are able to help them out. The fact that you have made HARO open to everyone is a testament to HARO's philosophy that "Everyone's An Expert As Something." Keep up the great work!

If you would like to receive daily media inquiries/request from HARO, visit here to sign-up. Also, make sure you read the rules of HARO.  No off-topic pitches and trolling for ink!  

Happy Birthday HARO! Here's to many more! 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

To Blog or to Twitter? That is the Question...

I've been a bad blogger lately. One post for the month of March is not good. Granted March for me was a swirl of new business meetings followed by presentations and a week's long vacation (no computer to write with during that time). But it seems that more and more I encounter people that are not writing on their blogs as much as they used to. The reason: Twitter.

Now this sounds counterintuitive. Why limit oneself to 140 characters to express thoughts/feelings/activities? The answer: Convenience. Twitter has made it very easy to express oneself and engage in conversation in real-time with the mass distribution of third-party mobile and Web applications. Twitter's platform allows users to post photos, create and distribute polls and search for relevant keywords/subjects (works most of the time) to find other Twitter users talking about similar topics.

Twitter has been described as a crowdsourcing "live" search engine, a live open source business intelligence tool (brand and reputation management), a non-profit/cause awareness/political engagement tool, a real-time news stream (think decentralized wire services), and the source for breaking and eye witness accounts of local and world events that may go unnoticed by traditional or more established news media. It also has been criticized for allowing anyone to post anything (including mindless dribble and mundane activities) to the world. The real impact of Twitter seems to be that it is becoming the day-to-day if not minute-by-minute choice for individuals (and businesses) to post what is going on. The convenience of Twitter to keep the conversation going without constantly having to check for written comments on a blog makes it more attractive. Twitter's immediacy makes it popular.

Since joining Twitter, I have spent more time interacting and "meeting" like minded PR pros, journalists, publishers, interactive designers, entrepreneurs, digital strategists, creative directors, and communication professionals. The debates and exchange of information is priceless. However, the more time I spend engaging and "using" Twitter, the less time and interest it seems that I have in my blog. In the past three weeks alone, I've seen several people that I follow on Twitter declare that Twitter has become their primary source of communication/expression on the Web and they have or plan to stop blogging. Will Twitter replace blogging?

Obviously the short answer is maybe. For some, Twitter's immediacy and feedback is more attractive and allows (in some cases) for more direct interaction/conversation with their audience. However, blogs are not limited by the constraints of 140 characters or a layout that takes a user (usually) outside the blog to view photos or take polls. Twitter is ruled by linking to content and that takes the navigation away from the main platform. The continual availability of relevant interesting content, interaction and information in real-time is what keeps users coming back to the Twitter. The challenge for those of us that blog is disengaging with Twitter long enough to fully expand on the ideas and debates on our blogs. For the most part, blogs remain the most popular and a key communication medium to establish and reinforce one's personal brand. At the end of the day, Twitter may not replace blogs, but those of us who are addicted to Twitter will have to find a balance - expression in 140 characters and blog posts (like this one) where we reinforce and expand on the constant exchange of information and ideas on just about anything.