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5 things that could pose a threat to your public relations

5 things that could pose a threat to your public relations

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”—Ben Franklin

Turn on the news tonight and you may briefly think that the sky is falling. It isn't. While some media stories love to attract our attention with grief and sorrow, the opposite can be true too. When it comes to public relations, all of the pros I know are developing positive stories about how their clients are solving problems, not making them. Is it possible for public relations experts to change today's media narrative?

Sure, one could sail through this period complaining about what's being covered by the media and what isn't. However, then what's on matters and nothing else does. This line perfectly summarizes how planning and pitching press today is more important than ever to change the current narrative landscape.

As a veteran public relations professional, I challenge you to review your public relations strategies. Based upon 20 years of experience in the public relations field, here are the top five threats to your public relations programs and corresponding solutions:

1.    Not focusing on the solution

I once heard a fellow practitioner say that he couldn’t get press for a client because other stories were taking all of the air out of the room. We’ve also read for years that the pressrooms nationwide were declining in staff and stories. Despite common belief, clients who are trustworthy sources and have credible news stories or pitches maintain to secure trade and mainstream press coverage. The most effective strategy is to focus on how a message can help solve a problem and be part of a larger solution.

2.    Not being of service to others

During this ego driven time, it’s a wonder when someone exclaims, “See there’s still good in the world!” Most Americans help one another when in a time of crisis. The most successful public relations pros whom I’ve met focus on how they can serve the press they pitch. It’s not about what’s in it for me, but what can I do for you. The latter, the outcome of an article is out of our hands. Sure, we have influence, but so does the surfer on the surfboard.

3.    Not asking for help

There will always be public relations experts who are as skilled and experienced at doing what you’re doing. Whether they work at competing firms or are within your agency. Asking them for help will help you both. You won’t be giving your story away nor creating a conflict of interest – unless they work on a direct competitor – and may gleam insight from an outside point of view.

4.    Not meeting a reasonable goal

Just because some topics are covered more than others, doesn’t mean that your topic will fare better or worse. If you don’t overpromise on coverage or underdeliver on your goals, you will set the stage for a period of growth in your press coverage. Keep in mind that the role of public relations is to help companies evolve to the public, not revolt. PR is an evolution, not a revolution.

5.    Not thinking about tomorrow

The media landscape continues to change, and social media is front and center more than ever. This added exposure can be planned for utilizing strategies which allows clients to focus on the long-tail. Simple PR plans are not as effective as “what-if” strategies which taken competitor messaging and press coverage into consideration. This issue is so variable it could be a post in itself, but requires attention.

In closing, before you give your public relations the stamp of approval, be sure to address these items on an on-going basis.

Cision Study Says Public Relations Professionals Can Do These Two Things to Get Press Coverage

Cision Study Says Public Relations Professionals Can Do These Two Things to Get Press Coverage

Getting press for clients is complicated for public relations professionals. Believe it or not, just having a good story isn’t good enough. But according to Cision, one of the longest standing public relations and earned media software and services providers, there are two things that you can do to get press coverage: provide accurate and newsworthy information.

Fake News is Faking Us Out

Consumers of content are having difficulty discerning what is real and what is fake news. Trust among journalists has also fallen. Press would rather have accurate (and newsworthy) stories than be first on a story or get the promise of exclusivity.

In Press Releases They Trust

“Journalists continue to love the press release,” the study also reported. “For three years in a row, media professionals have ranked press releases and news announcements as the most valuable type content they receive from their PR contacts. They’ve also once again chosen the press release as their most trusted brand source. This is nearly universal, with journalists from around the world citing press releases as their most trusted source of company information.”   

Cision’s 2018 global State of the Media survey, collected data from 1,355 journalists from across six countries on their “perception of the media and communications industries.”

Read the full report here.

Is PR Managing Social?

Is PR Managing Social?

Matthew Royse wrote an intriguing post for RAGAN's PR Daily touting the 10 most effective social media tools for PR pros. But, if you look at most job reqs for social media pros, they ask for a lot more than PR tactics. So then why are PR pros managing social, or are they? 

In Royse's post, he goes onto to explain how a PR pro has to basically act like a content marketer / graphic designer to create content for social, in total including:

  • post content
  • find hashtags
  • resize images and engage with your audience
  • use social media management tools to schedule your social media posts days, weeks or even months ahead of time

I get it, PR can manage social for what social means to PR

Often PR uses social to track media and influencers and engage with them. PR also uses social to promote media coverage, track trends, news, and information. PR can also help keep social on message. Social sometimes needs to know/learn that it doesn't exist in a silo. When announcing a new product or service, social needs to follow PR which needs to follow marketing. So, in essence, social does report to PR.

But, social can do more

Social can also report to the CMO and be managed by multiple departments such as:

  • Demand Generation
  • HR
  • Sales
  • Customer Success
  • Product Marketing

PR keeps changing

Public relations has morphed so much within the last decade that many PR pros now have to delineate between "traditional PR" from other types of outbound communication. Because "communication" has changed dramatically so has PR.

But I think sometimes we trap PR in a box

Journalists still get value from their sources. Readers still get value from well-written articles and broadcasts. There are plenty of PR pros who either still have relationships with key journalists and can help build out a story or who can forge relationships with journalists to pitch stories which those journalists may not have thought of otherwise or had no way of finding sources. Social, of course, can help augment and improve the practice of "traditional public relations." We need to take PR out of the box.


Depending on the structure of an organization, PR can manage social. But, since I believe that social can do more than support PR, I would recommend that social report up to PR and other marketing disciplines, mentioned above. Social can benefit more than one part of the organization. And, PR can do a lot more when being approached from an open approach to how new tools can help PR professionals do their jobs better. Maybe PR can manage social. Maybe not. Both need to be unleashed.

Head to Head: Is PR trying to be everything to everyone?

Head to Head: Is PR trying to be everything to everyone?

Mumbrella pit two agencies against one another to answer this question. We would add that the reason why PR has been "trying to be everything to everyone" is because PR agencies, which have traditionally only offered media and analyst relations, want to get a bigger piece of the communications pie. Though, it makes no sense for a media relations pro to be a social media strategist if they aren't experts on the social media scene.

Here are the tools that could be used to create the fake news of the future

Here are the tools that could be used to create the fake news of the future

I worked in entertainment for years. "Fake news" isn't new to me. What is new is how technology is creating fake photographs and videos. That was impossible back in the day. Actually, it was only something thought of for a TV or movie production. Never did we think that that technology would be used "online" to create fake stories and hype events. I could argue that it is the first stage of "Skynet." We will see..

Who is Hope Hicks, anyway?

Who is Hope Hicks, anyway?

She is a publicist. But, from Virginia Heffernan's account in The New York Times, one may come to believe that Hicks is a professional liar, just like her family of PR pros before her, Heffernan touts. I don't know Ms.Hicks. I don't know if she has lied on behalf of clients or Mr. Trump. Over the past 25 years, I have worked with peers who have "embellished the truth," as one once told me. There are also PR pros who explore different angles or try to argue why their client's point of view is the point of view. And, some PR people lie. PR isn't so black and white.

For Ms. Heffernan to opine about Ms. Hicks and her family as "flacks" or anything close to being honest, is an unfair judgment. Better yet, it proves once again how powerful the court of public opinion can be, without facts, and how journalists too share a great responsibility of reporting the truth.

Accountability needs to be on both sides. The PR professional needs to act less desperately when trying to gain coverage and only pitch stories or news that is factual with credible sources. And, the journalists need to do a better job of vetting their stories with their staff and editors so not to rush to print or broadcast and hinder their reputation either. Additional ideas include:

  • "Breaking News" needs to be a headline of the past.
  • PR pros and journalists need to go back to the basics of forming trusted relationships and announce "exclusives" or "first looks" to allow both sides to fully flush out the best stories.
  • Newsrooms need to go back to beefing up the newsroom and assign certain people to cover specific beats and ask them to become experts on those beats, maybe even hiring more qualified reporters or on-air personalities who are formerly experts in their domain.
  • In this world of social media, platforms need to label advertised posts as advertisements and not news, like magazines used to when publishing "advertorials." Social media networks need to be regulated...
  • Lastly, there needs to be a renewed focus on creating quality content such as we're seeing from Quartz, The Information, and VICE.


The tricks propagandists use to beat science

The tricks propagandists use to beat science

"A model of the way opinions spread reveals how propagandists use the scientific process against itself to secretly influence policy makers." - MIT Technology Review

On a lighter note, when a past client wanted to bring attention to a product, we hired professionals who we knew thought differently about the product's solution and would write competing opinions. And, oh, did they...

It's all about who controls the narrative...



Why Amazon's HQ2 guessing game is PR genius

Why Amazon's HQ2 guessing game is PR genius

"It's city versus city in the ultimate public battle to woo Amazon, and the very public courtship process may be one of Amazon's most genius moves yet, according to experts," writes Alyssa Newcomb for NBC NEWS.

What's the big deal?

Amazon is. Let's not kid ourselves. Sure, as the article points out, Amazon likes to change the rules, but it can, because its Amazon (no pun intended, just lucked out on that one). Point to any big brand that is constantly in the news more than Amazon these days. Even Jeff Bezos has garnered his own share of PR value.

I think the true test on PR is what the eventual rollout will look like. This is such an amazing opportunity for Amazon to move into a City and create a positive economic, environmental, and design impact. That's where the rubber will meet the road. It's the long tail..

What's in it for you?

You may about to be living in the new tech hub. That will add value to your property, bring more jobs to your community, and improve the resources in your life. The PR value - the positive word of mouth - could be exponential for Amazon and last many years, maybe even a lifetime.

So, yes, it's a genius move, for a genius brand.



Intel Faced With 'PR Nightmare' After Serious Chip Exploit

Intel Faced With 'PR Nightmare' After Serious Chip Exploit

"Intel is expected to release a statement, but hasn't yet commented on the issue," writes AdAge. "Historically, the way companies respond to such issues and how quickly they address them has determined how big the problem becomes."

"This is a potential PR nightmare," says Dan Ives, head of tech research at GBH Insights. "They need to get ahead of this and try to contain any of the damage to customers as well to the brand."

Do Not Be Alarmed

We respectfully disagree with Dan. The same reason why Equifax's "PR nightmare" came and went. It's not their problem. From a consumer's perspective, they're not holding an Intel chip in their hand. They're holding an iOS or Android device. Or, they're sitting in from of a Mac or Windows computer. When the Equifax breach happened, consumers looked to how third parties would help them handle the breach too.

In both cases, we're all looking at what's in front of us, not at some behind the scenes tech that we don't interact with hundreds of times daily nor have any brand affinity. The software developers handled the news marvelously. Patches have already come out or are in tow. 

Messaging is What Matters

Now to what really matters, in regard to Intel's "PR Nightmare" is how they explain what happened to their Board and shareholders. The magic is in the messaging. Of course, that will get covered by the press. But in today's day and age of cybersecurity, the question should be how can Intel (and other chip makers) prevent such possible exposure from happening again...