Category:

Stakeholder relations

  • Trust me……I’m a PR professional

    Ah, trust.

    As any counsellor will tell you, trust is key in any relationship. And it is vital when building relationships with editors and journalists. They need to be sure that the information you give them is accurate, truthful and not twisted into misrepresentation – their own reputations are bound up in the quality of the articles that they publish.

    And in return you need to be sure that ‘off the record’ briefings remain ‘off the record’, that embargoes are respected and that you will be given the chance to respond if a negative story breaks.

    How to build that mutual trust is the question.

    And the answer is that it can only be achieved over time, by working at building each relationship and behaving with the utmost professionalism. So, press releases need to be checked and double-checked and signed-off by all interested parties. If you say that you will provide two hi-res images, then you must deliver. If you have negotiated to contribute a non-advertorial article, then you must not send in a ‘puff’ piece full of references to your client. Otherwise you are simply wasting an editor’s time and it will be remembered the next time you want to talk about editorial.

    Responding promptly is essential. You may not be able to provide the information, images or story that the journalist wants but you should always be clear in your answers and meet agreed deadlines. And don’t be afraid to demand equally high standards from a journalist.

    Don’t allow yourself to be pushed around and never forget that you are representing your client’s profile as well as your own professionalism.

    Relationships have to be worked at. And trust has to be earned.

  • Assume nothing!

    This is our unofficial company motto and it has stood us in good stead over the years.

    We all make assumptions: assuming it won’t rain because the weather forecast said it wouldn’t or in my case, assuming that it will rain because I have just washed my hair and I have neither a jacket nor an umbrella!

    But we are all too often completely wrong.

    We tend to believe that other people will buy in to our world view and think and behave in the ways that we expect them to. This is particularly true in marketing and PR. A few examples  illustrate what I mean:

    ‘Our target audiences will want to read about/buy our products’. Just because you have identified someone as a potential customer does not automatically mean that they will appreciate that they should be interested in what you have to sell. At the very least you will need to work at getting their attention and possibly accept the unpalatable fact that some will not respond.

    ‘We’ve been around for years, everyone knows who we are and what we do.’ You need to keep the memory fresh. Times change and personnel, particularly journalists, move on. New players enter the market. Reputations need to be tended regularly and updated if your competitors are not to steal your limelight.

    ‘Big data tells us everything we need to know about our customers. All we have to do is push the right buttons.’ Really? Viewing this from your own experience as a consumer, do you find this a convincing statement? Could you predict exactly how those closest to you will react to something? And be right every time? Political parties often make this mistake and rely on data and focus groups to tailor individual policies that deliver what they think the voters want to hear. But without a distinct, convincing overarching identity which puts the tactical messaging in context, it is unlikely to elicit more than a short-lived response. Here the sum of the parts is definitely not greater than the whole.

    So, treat your audiences with respect, don’t get too comfortable, and know that you have to keep working to capture their attention. The communications space is very overcrowded.

    Assume nothing.

  • PR is everywhere

    Please remember: PR is not left in the office when the doors close at the end of the day. Reputation management needs to be a constant concern.

    I am currently sitting on the train, listening with great interest to the conversations of other passengers. It is amazing the information people are happy to loudly impart in the company of assumed strangers.

    train carriage

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