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How to have a hugely successful PR campaign

Seth Godin blogged about it today.  One option is to struggle to be heard whenever you're in the room... Another is to be the sort of person who is missed when you're not.

The first involves making noise. The second involves making a difference.

And so it is with succssful public relations. We take the unusual step of saying to our clients (either during a pitch or after it is successful won) that frankly we don't care how many press releases we are asked to distribute.  All too many agencies seem to want to calculate their retainer or projects based on the number of press releases.  This doesn't make sense to us.  So long as each and every press release is newsworthy and relevant we don't mind working on one a day.  

Off course I've yet to meet a client that had that many newsworth releases... in fact back in 1999 I was speaking to a journalist who was compaining to me that Microsoft sent them a press release every two days.  They actually didn't care that the releases were every two days (they were allready clearing 100+ emails from their email of usless pitches), but they did care that 99% were irrelivent to the title they wrote on.  Of course it wasn't Micorsoft's fault - just the agency at the time that wanted to spam all journalists.

Successful PR campaigns and to add to that - campaigns with longevity - require a spokesperson that makes a difference - or to put it another way, one that will be missed if they are not commenting.

How is your spokesperson doing?



Who are the key decision makers and are the spokes people media trained?

Every company has a organizational chart - a ladder of power, but how this structure functions during a crisis must be clarified with all the stakeholders in the company; particularly the communications department. A crisis can hit at any time, and the company needs to determine secondary command structures in case key decision-makers are unavailable at the time.

Not only is it important for those to know who need to spring to action (and how those people are contacted) - it is equally important that everyone else in the organization knows they can not speak on behalf of the company or to the press. Something that is best handled in a company employee handbook.

Organizations also need to decide which situations warrant which spokes person, and plan accordingly.

Most importantly, the spokes people need to be media trained in advance. Effective spokes people should receive professional media training and should be well versed on how to deal with the press. An organization's spokes person need not necessarily be the most senior staffers. For example, in some cases, the CEO is not the most efficient spokes person due to experience, knowledge or geographical location.



How today’s media is changing Public Relations

The Huffington Post built a media empire from the digital zeitgeist.


 The Huff’s genius involved a nose for water-cooler conversation and an eye for resultant keyword searches. Its unreal ability to dominate the search by re-serving the public what it was already discussing allowed HuffPo to exit for a very real $300 million. 


 For the sake of comparison, Newsweek sold for $1. 


 Is Newsweek 300 million times worse than The Huffington Post? 


 Of course not. 


 But Newsweek never decoded that hidden strand of The Huffington Post’s DNA: Today’s winners no longer try to make news; they instead try to be nearby when news is made. 


 And here is the bedrock of where media is changing PR. For PR folks to be successful they shouldn’t try to be the news; they should try to participate in news.


Easy to understand, so how does that happen? We’ve represented many different types of client at NettResults – some have experienced spokespeople and some do not. Here’s what we have learned:


1 – if a company does not have a spokesperson then there needs to be a lot of news around new unique features or advanced product development that the user actually cares about.


2 – better (and less expensive for the company) to have a spokes person.


Next up – how do we get that spokes person to participate in the news?

Back to traditional PR – the ability of an agency to position that spokesperson with the media through introductions, interview and good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. Through this process, the spokes person gains the ‘credibility’ of the media. Yes, vital – credibility. It doesn’t happen overnight and it is a distinct and almost contradictory PR action than the daily KPI of gaining publicity.


Once credibility has been obtained, it is the job of the agency to keep the media informed on what subject matter the spokes person has preferential insight to – most probably because of their corporate experience. This is how the spokesperson becomes an ‘expert’ in their area of business.


Then, later on in time, when the news is looking like it is approaching the subject that the spokesperson has claimed insight and credibility, it is the job of the agency to showcase that spokesperson. This could be as simple as a one-to-one contact (picking up the phone) or it may be more appropriate to showcase the spokesperson in a one-to-many communication (for example a press release).


Before the spokesperson is ready to reach out to the media and fulfill their spokesperson duty, it is the agency that has to create and curate timely content around the news.


It’s not rocket science, but it does take some medium term planning to achieve success.




Media Training 101

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What will it take to be a successful spokesperson?

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