Some things never change. That’s true in PR, too. The reasons are many. It’s easier to go with the flow than incorporate new thinking. Supervisors fail to give young staff opportunities to try new technique. Staff fear criticizing the boss. Those who advocate change are seen as mavericks and tend to be ostracized. The result is that, well, things change way too slowly. Here’s a list of PR sacred cows that need to be challenged.
Each April, PR News inducts into its Measurement Hall of Fame communications professionals who have played longtime leadership roles in helping to define and expand industry measurement strategies, programs and standards. This year’s inductees—Elizabeth Rector, John Gilfeather, Richard Bagnall and Mike Daniels—will be honored during a special ceremony April 21 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. during PR News’ Measurement Conference.
It’s probably safe to say that everyone interested in brand communications has watched the infamous Pepsi commercial that was swiftly yanked from the internet after savage criticism on social media. It was deeply bad in several ways, a perfect storm of bad decisions. You might think you’re savvy enough at PR to avoid such a confluence of mistakes, but that doesn’t mean you’re immune from making one or another of them from time to time. So let’s break down a few of the lessons we’ve learned.
Storytelling, as explained by Douwe Bergsma, is indeed a different way of looking at marketing communications, one that requires new processes, metrics and staff. Bergsma, CMO of Georgia-Pacific—the paper goods giant behind the Brawny, Quilted Northern and Dixie brands—offers some fascinating details that often separate a good story from a great one, including three secrets to crafting a successful marketing story.
A multichannel structure can be likened to the swim lanes in a pool: We line up our channels, the gun bangs and they each swim off in their own lanes, doing their own thing. The problem is, none of the channels are collaborating because they’re so focused on beating each other. And that creates a “Hunger Games” situation. But if multichannel means staying in a swim lane, then omnichannel is basically one big pool party.
When brands communicate on social media, there’s a built-in trust and understanding gap between professional communicators and a skeptical public. Finding a way to bridge that gap is crucial. Nation Hahn, digital director at Blueprint for Athletes and chief growth officer at EdNC.org, has found that for the right brand and the right campaign, a great way to make the connection is by working with third-party ambassadors to intertwine the brand’s story with the stories of real people.
Few companies are trying to make a Starbucks-like statement in today’s highly politicized communication environment. Many brands want to respect the diverse opinions of their employees and customers and avoid becoming a target of unanticipated backlash. Here are a few ways communicators can help brands navigate today’s highly charged environment. Fortunately, most of them are basic tenets of PR and communications. Brushing up on the basics can be especially useful in today’s climate.
Something we’ve observed at PR News in recent years: We don’t see “PR” in job titles quite as often as we used to. One reason may be that so few communicators today are restricted to traditional PR functions like media relations and crisis management. In 2017 they are tasked with so much more, from content creation and social media management to email marketing and brand development.
Before she measures the success of any campaign, January Williams begins with the question, “What am I asking the audience to do?” Williams, the director of online communications and outreach for the nonprofit Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), doesn’t try to be all things on all platforms. While some initiatives, like increasing the CDF’s number of followers, are easy to measure, most of what the organization does—when issuing legislative calls to action or fundraising, for example—is all about engagement. Here are three ways she uses analytics to drive action.
There were many examples last month of organizations screwing up and resulting in crises badly handled. We could have piled on PwC for the Oscars, but given that Hollywood obsessed about it for weeks, it was hard to find much more to say. And of course, we would have loved to weigh in on the great leggings-on-United kerfuffle clinging to Twitter as, well, leggings do. But frankly, in these times, all that seemed trivial compared to a couple of serious crises plaguing America’s military.