PR in an Electronic World
Not engaging in electronic media is definitely not the answer. In fact, it shouldn’t even be an option. To do so leaves your business vulnerable on many fronts, including decreased awareness among your key customers.
So that we’re all on the same page, let’s first discuss what PR really is and how it impacts your business. Many people like to use the terms marketing, advertising and PR interchangeably. In doing so, they misalign both the strategies for growing their businesses as well as establishing their metrics for success.
I like to put it in simple terms so that everyone has at least a general understanding of these three very distinct disciplines:
Marketing – changing the behavior of your key audiences (aka prospective customers) so that they view your product or service as the only solution. Marketing requires an emotional connection between the product and the customer.
Advertising – a nonpersonal tool to persuade potential customers to purchase your product or service. Paid announcements are the most common use of advertising.
Public relations – creating goodwill among your targeted audiences. In other words, your customers—and prospects—have a generally good feeling about your business.
Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s talk about public relations practices and how effective PR still works in the e-world.
1. Meaningful news is still meaningful news; it just moves much quicker. Adding jobs, expanding your business and being a positive contributor to the community still get ink…er, coverage. It may, however, not be in the local newspaper but on a tweet or popular blog.
2. Relationships are still important. Knowing reporters and assignment editors is key to successfully pitching a story. These relationships are honed by trust and by serving as a reliable resource for our friends in the media. Now, in addition to these traditional relationships, you need to be equally aware of Internet sites and the people behind them. For example, when helping a client launch a social media site for those concerned with energy efficiency, we took our story to Web-based publications. The result? Nearly 100 percent of the outlets picked up the story.
3. Honesty, integrity and ethics don’t change with technology. Whatever you write or post must be truthful and accurate. Period.
4. Distribute your news to the right targets. In addition to having solid relationships with members of the media, make sure the news you’re sending is relevant to the outlet. If it’s a feature story idea that you want to pitch, don’t send it to the publisher. Do your homework before you hit send and remember to follow up with a phone call.
So there you have it. Pretty basic stuff that’s been around since the dawn of PR. Meaningful, relevant, honest news sent to the right reporter at the right outlet will help get your message out. The criteria for good, positive public relations do not change in an electronic world.
Now get out there and tweet your good news for all to see. You and your business have everything to gain from your positive PR efforts.
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Lorri Jandron is the president and CEO of Edge Partnerships, a full-service marketing, public relations, branding, advertising and advocacy agency in Lansing’s Old Town. Jandron was recently recognized as the PACEmaker of the Year by the Public Relations Society of America, Central Michigan Chapter.