PR is great fun these days, isn't it? In fact, recent experience has led me to start a one-woman crusade to rename the ancient art of PR into a far more appropriate acronym, PC. Public Conversations. After all, at the end of the day and given the world we operate in today, relations simply don't cut it. Conversations do. No amount of pitching a concept is going to get you exposure, if it isn't presented in a way that gets people talking. No matter how utterly relevant nor how obviously beneficial the message you hold, if you can't provide the content in a format that's relevant and exciting to a myriad of different platforms, then you're going to find yourself up the proverbial creek.
Take for example, the much loathed and antiquated, press release. Despised by agencies for the simple reason that they no longer work, however adored by the large majority of clients. Why? Heaven alone knows, but I can only assume the insistence with which we are requested to issue press releases has something to do with this misconceived idea that in doing so, we tick some as-yet-undiscovered PR box. (In more than 10 years of PR, I still haven't ever seen these boxes we seem to be perpetually ticking off. I suspect they have gnarly teeth and an insatiable appetite for eating up creativity, authenticity and pro activity. Boxes where great PR goes to die).
Instead of issuing yet another release, how about refashioning your groundbreaking product, company or service six-pager into something a little more pleasing to the eye. Like an infographic? Or better yet, a tweet. And not one of those extended ones either. If your PR agency can't get the gist of a release into 140 impactful characters, then perhaps it's time to pack them into that aforementioned box and ship them back to the 1990's (similar action should be taken if anyone suggests that faxing something is a good idea). And before we get ahead of ourselves and jump in to the twitter sphere, nurture your traditional PR monster by giving a handful of journals the inside scoop ahead of the big tweet off (a phone call or email would suffice in the new world). That way, everyone wins. You get the clout of traditional PR with the relevance of contemporary PC. And not a single press release has been sent on that never ending cycle of drafts, changes, tweaks, edits, approvals, reedits, issuing, pull backs, reissues, drink-copious-amounts-of-wine-and-collapse-in-a-heap palavers.
What this does mean now, and this is the scary (read: exciting) part for us PC folk, is that having the gift of the gab and an enviable black book of contacts just isn't enough. PR agencies need PR people. PC agencies, however, need designers, community managers, strategists, video and audio edit capabilities, ORM dashboards, influencers, writers, media planners, a production team and, of course, PR people. Oh yes, we should remember this shouldn't cost anymore than 'my last PR agency'. Yes, PR is great fun these days, isn't it?
In the spirit of content creation, take a look at my top 10 tips for embracing the new exciting world of PC. You're welcome to join the crusade and share with your team, it could just save you a lot of Sav Blanc.
Jessica is the PR and Social Media Business Unit Director at GREY. The agency is part of the global GREY Group network, and has a strong through-the-line offering including specialist units servicing digital, design, PR and social media.
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I really love this concept and think you are right on the money! I have been trying to think of another way of putting "PR" as its just not that sexy, however still vital in the marketing mix. PC is a great alternative. The only thing I disagree with is that comment that press releases are antiquated. We are currently adding in all the other 'tactics' that you mention above into our campaigns, but for certain clients the press release still gets great coverage, and can hold very valuable info that 140 characters will never get across. For example our one client is a credit bureau and often our press releases are published in the likes of Business Day and Financial Mail. So they still have a place...but probably need to be updated with links to Youtube interviews, inforgraphics etc. like we are currently doing. A press release is loathed when the content is crap and irrelevant, Really great thoughts though and nice to see innovation in the industry!