Monday, July 11, 2011

The More Things Change...

In my last post, I not only quoted the philosopher Ferris Bueller, I talked about how much things have changed in public relations over the course of the past several years. While it is always important to stay ahead of the technology and communication curve, it is far more important to have a sound base for any PR initiative. These are among the things that have NOT changed in the past several years.

The need to plan. You’ve heard the old saw, “If you don’t know where you are going, then ANY road will get you there!” It was true when I was a young pup in this business, and it remains true today. Planning is essential. Set objectives, outline strategies, assign tactics to those strategies (including all of the new social media platforms), determine what success will look like, and set measurement matrices. A good, sound PR plan is like the score for an orchestra; each instrument knows when and what notes to play, and the end result that emerges is far greater than the sum of its parts.

The necessity of the media. To paraphrase another modern-day philosopher, Mr. T, “I pity the fool who thinks you should disregard traditional media.” In most cases, there is still no better and more credible way to connect to your audience than with traditional media. The New York Times remains the number one most quoted and referenced site on the Internet for a reason. And what people see on television or in the news (even if it they receive it tweeted, emailed or posted on Facebook) is often seen as holding far greater value and gravitas than a piece that originates solely on the net.

Content is still king. I don’t care how many “friends” or “likes” you have on Facebook or followers on Twitter. If you are not delivering solid, relevant, useful content, you will not be able to engage with your audience for long. And speaking of engagement…

You need to engage. Public relations is the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its public. That takes engagement. And while connecting with various publics is often accomplished in a very different ways today than it was 10 years ago, the end result should be the same: to create and maintain connections. In other words, engage.

Yes, things have absolutely changed for PR agencies and practitioners. We would be among the fools that Mr. T would pity if we were to think or act otherwise. But a solid foundation that starts with a good, sound and well-vetted plan, that employs the strengths of both traditional and social media, that delivers good and useful content and makes and nurtures connections is still the way that excellent PR is practiced today.