First principles of Public Relations
A practical guide for effective PR in the 21st century
In our 8 years of running a PR software firm we’ve had to conclude that the way PR is done just sucks. We’ve seen countless of press releases bomb and paid close attention while working with many customers.
PR is too often old fashioned, misguided or just executed badly.
Which leads to boring, bad or even misleading campaigns. So we’ve decided that it’s time to go back to what we believe are the principles of what makes PR effective and write it down in this book.
We don’t pretend to hold the truth on how to do PR campaigns rock or some secret sauce that will get you published. Most of what you’ll read in this book is plain old common sense. We just hope to give you a fresh look on what it takes to run a successful PR campaign in a changing marketing landscape.
We truly believe that there are more effective ways to approach and execute your communication strategy. And that you’ll start seeing a way to make public relations a key part of your companies’ strategy again. Online PR is a huge component.
The landscape is shifting
The world we live in is growing louder every day. There are more people, media outlets and marketing messages than ever before. Communication crosses the globe effortlessly at a speed unrivalled in human history.
This digital PR reality, in which we’re barraged with information every second of the day, has made our attention spans shorter and most forms of communication a lot louder.
A new breed of communication and PR is needed. One that has enough substance to make your message last and stand out over time. One that transcends the perception of ‘spin doctoring’ and allows PR pros to fulfil their crucial role in raising public awareness and goodwill.
Consumers have ever-shortening attention spans, ever-increasing expectations of the quality of products and services, and the option to truly engage with and respond to corporate communication. Mediocrity no longer receives attention; mistakes are punished and rarely forgotten. That’s why it’s so important to understand how to communicate effectively.
We’ve seen 5 major trends develop in the changing relationship between company and consumer that we think are important to keep in mind.
1. People demand transparency
Customers are demanding open and honest communication about products and services. They will simply stop paying attention if things are fuzzy or unclear. It’s key to define and communicate the purpose of your company. If your message is not consistent and clear – or worse, misleading or dishonest – your customers will start looking for alternatives.
2. People care about your purpose
Even if your competitors can create an instant copy of your product in this 24/7 digitised economy, they can’t copy the culture and purpose of your company. That’s why it’s crucial to sell the broader idea behind the brand and the impact of your product.
Whether it’s a practical matter, such as ecological footprints, or the way your company views its place in society – it all matters. And your customers deserve to know.
3. People want a better experience
People are getting used to richer content. The threshold of what’s interesting has been upped to include multimedia.
Designers and writers embellish flat text with images, videos, graphs and infographics to accommodate shortening attention spans. And viral campaigns thrive on shareability, which in turn thrives on rich and interesting content. Without an interesting experience it’s very easy to be ignored.
4. Everything can be measured
Tracking audience behaviour has become easier, and the possibilities have become more and more extensive. These days there’s no shortage of tracking tools, site analytics, custom notifications and ways to collect data. PR professionals today need to be on top of the PR tools landscape and use every single one available to help drive engagement.
5. People respond to relevant content
Because we are constantly bombarded with information, people will often only react to content that’s specific to the context in which they see it. Different types of media lend themselves to different types of messages.
The relevance of your message changes along with device capabilities, referral channels, time of day, the location of the reader and how well your audience knows you. Sending out personalised and context-specific messages can have a profound impact on the effectiveness of your communication, and it's become a lot easier in a quantifiable world.
Change before you’re forced to
The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.
One thing we know for sure is that the world will continue to change. In this book we’ve revisited a deeper, timeless set of principles that will allow you to make the most of your PR campaigns, no matter the circumstance.
We believe that companies that adhere to these principles are the ones that have a real impact in their business and get noticed. These companies love the changing circumstances because they thrive in it. Being able to succeed where others fail gives them a clear competitive advantage.
Separating the good from the bad
To help you get your PR groove back, we’ll start with an exploration of what people most often do wrong. We’ve gotten stuck in the way we do things, so it’s time to outline the dark patterns that render your PR campaigns aimless. After that, of course, we’ll dive into how to make those PR dollars (or euros) well-spent by winning at PR and allowing you to find the fun in your work.