Would the real PR please stand up?

One post I’ve read listed 31 Flavors of Public Relations.

It has some good info to share, yet I agree with Beth Harte that 1) all those definitions creates a misperception of PR and 2) too many were publicity-centric. PR is not Publicity is a meme that’s made the rounds. Then there’s the textbook definition and the PRSA version of what Public Relations is.

This is the part where I joke: It’s like porn, you know it when you see it. But I’m not so sure.

When that company donates free tickets to a school group or when this brand sponsors this community event, do people see good customer service, community building, do they think  “that was some damn fine PR” or even give it a first thought, let alone a second one?

What do you do again?

Today’s excellent #SoloPR tweet chat brought this gem from Alison Kenney: “I once wrote a blog post called ‘I work in PR and my family has no idea what I do.'”

I laughed as I can totally relate. Which is the crux of the PR identity crisis: parents, consumers, clients can relate to what they know.

People know advertising, it’s the crap they zap on the DVR. They get that marketing has something to do with sales. My dad wants to “fix” my jeans since the branding label is there, and I’m doing the advertising for them. And people can wrap their heads around publicity, stories on the news and in magazines about this product or that company.

Don’t Tell Me what PR means, SHOW Me

Jayme Soulati has called for an education initiative. I thought rather than just a blog post of definitions, I’d call for examples not of what PR is defined as, but examples that define good PR. So here are the rules:

  1. Less is more. Forget the long boring white paper, keep it simple please.
  2. Links are ok. If it’s an affiliate or client, please disclose.
  3. Think outside the publicity box. Employee relations, goodwill campaigns, CRM programs, crisis management, etc. as I am all for integration.
  4. Publicity wins are ok.. IF you tie them back to other communications and business goals. Looking for more than “thud book” examples, want to know how that clip got sales or a new client.

Lemme start:

Via blogging, tweeting and chatting, I earned myself a speaking gig. This LinkedIn success story was both a social media and PR win for my business, establishing credibility with a key public: my peers.

Have a PR story to share? Please do.

Photo credit: Wasted too much time looking, settled on this just to hit publish.

Want More? Keep Reading.

11 thoughts on “Would the real PR please stand up?

  1. Davina, this was chock full of good stuff (great links!). I couldn’t make it through the first paragraph without heading over to 3 different articles/posts. Whew! Love the approach as well – share what worked and could be defined as “good PR”.

    Here’s my most favorite success story: I took a very talented Chef who had/has a very edgy image/persona from someone who was quite literally pissing people off to the ‘it’ girl everyone wants on their show or in their magazine. When I started, the Chef had a “questionable” blog that could be viewed as abrasive. Result: her personality and her image overshadowed her huge talent. Digging deeper into what makes her tick, I discovered a few things: she’s incredibly giving, very protective of her staff and her product, and felt ‘overlooked’ by regional and local media (i.e., misunderstood). What the public was missing was her great sense of humor, her infectious laughter, her giving nature and her awesome food. We used social media (of course) to engage her fan base, grow her base, show a funny side and begin to slowly showcase her positive sides. I did not -repeat – did not try to change who she is. I had a very frank discussion with her that I would play to her strong suits. By doing that, we’ve cultivated those strong suits to the point that it’s ALL that people see about her, with a healthy dose of ‘edge’ thrown in. We’ve gained multiple features on her, throw her on camera on a regular basis as a culinary authority, placed her in a regional competition (1st woman by the way), and moved the reputation along the sliding scale from yikes to “WOW, she’s going places.” The special sauce: authenticity. We kept her real, worked with our networks to gain trust, show up when we’re supposed to, and have fun.

    Sorry for the long example…it’s a favorite topic of mine! 🙂
    Erica Allison recently posted..A Very Important Question to Ask

    1. I link.. a lot. Since there are so many definitions of PR out there I thought examples may help illustrate better. Yours is a great example Erica, thanks so much for sharing! My favorite takeaways:

      1) NO SPIN. You didn’t try to change this person, didn’t manufacture a story. You identified the authentic marketable traits of this person, added it to a little media training I’d suspect so that your client always showed the best of her personality.
      2) PUBLICS. You went beyond the media at first to look at other key audiences: employees, customers, community members.
      3) CAMPAIGN. Not one channel but integrated with social media, used a blog to tell this PR story yourself.. which led to media features, professional exposure, etc. And fun of course.

  2. Not sure if you’re asking for a totally integrated marketing success story, a publicity results story, a social media campaign that did well, a thought leadership/influencer campaign, or a high-level strategy discussion that set the client on the right path of success versus bottom-of-the-tunnel? Do you want traditional only, or can I share a digital mix?

    Jayme Soulati recently posted..A PR Recap With Thanks

    1. You are very welcome Jayme, you’re one of the ones who prompted this. Share whatever you want, doesn’t have to be totally integrated or social media driven, can certainly have a digital mix … just a good, relatable example.

      Here’s sort of a good customer service as good PR example. There’s is a local wine shop I like which I’ve mentioned in blogs and comments before. The store owner knows my name, makes helpful suggestions which has made me a loyal customer and brand advocate. I think when companies make those extra service efforts and build relationships with their stakeholders, it goes beyond service and into PR. FWIW.

  3. I got the F out of PR in 2006, to run a dot-com startup. This has allowed me the opportunity to better define what it is I did and/or do. “Ran a startup.” Followed by: “Run a digital marketing firm.” This has made me un-hire-able by just about every PR agency in town, something I learned long ago.

    This is okay: I didn’t want to be pigeon-holed as a PR guy, as marketing not only sounds better, it, in my humble opinion, IS better. There’s a bottom line to it, and you don’t have to beat around the bush and try the side door in if you want to sell stuff. You just, well, sell stuff.

    Dave Van de Walle recently posted..Startup Hospice And When Your Company Needs It

    1. No problem not wanting to be pigeon-holed Dave. I refer to myself as a solo PR but that’s really not all I do, hence the many hats. I have great respect for marketing, advertising, social media, PR; and HUGE respect for sales, SO not in my wheelhouse. Not sure I agree marketing is better, just better for you. 😉

    1. No problem Gini. I was sorta free forming ideas today, thinking those outside PR can relate to easier to some examples rather than verbose definitions. Kinda like Marcus’ latest post which has a great, relatable analogy on out vs. inbound marketing. http://bit.ly/eeyrlq

      There are times it is hard to define PR, what I do. I find myself using a lot of verbs (writing, reading, pitching, networking, researching) to describe what I help companies do to build relationships with their target audiences. The response is often, “so it’s like advertising? sales?”

      I try to avoid a boring Ps of Marketing lecture, stick with some type of real world example. Say if a restaurant comps a meal for messing up an order, that’s customer service but it’s also good PR when and if the manager follows up with you, emails you to make sure your ok, invites you to come back, etc. FWIW.

  4. “The crap they zap on the DVR” – LOVE IT!

    Hmm… success story. OK – I found a home for an orphaned dog in Portland, OR, while I was in the DC area, via tweeting & blogging. No traditional media relations, just relying on the strength of the community I’d built up on Twitter etc. – and my blog was VERY nascent then. Does that count?
    Shonali Burke recently posted..The Music Of Communications

    1. Thanks Shonali. Part of the conversation over on Gini’s blog was the line that PR should be “heard but not seen” and it’s part of the defining problem: so much is behind the scenes, making less relatable.

      That is a good success story, certainly good PR for the power of social media, what it means to be connected and genuinely social. If you have any other stories, feel free to add them later.

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