This year’s theme is The New Face of PR: Strategizing Connectivity, Innovation, and Integration. We chose this theme because, with the advent of social media over the last several years, PR has changed a lot. We are no longer concentrating on media relations and producing press kits and press releases. There is a whole other world out there!
Engagement with online communities is the key. Rather than burying their heads in the sand and hoping it’s just a phase, the most successful PR pros have fully embraced this new way of communicating and have found new and interesting ways to integrate these mediums into their campaigns to achieve spectacular results.
If you’re still not sold on the importance of integrating social media, just look at these quick facts:
- 78% of consumers conduct product research online
- 41% of B2B companies have acquired a customer through Facebook
- Social sites are the #1 source for product information
- 91% of e-mail users have opted out of company lists they previously subscribed to
- 2/3 of the country is on the “Do NOT Call” list
— Integrating Social Media into Your Marketing Mix by Michael Brenner Sr. Director, Integrating Marketing SAP
Many of our session topics support the theme of integrating the traditional forms of media with the new forms of media in innovative ways. Join us on Nov. 3 at the BWI Four Points Sheraton for this awesome regional conference! Register now at prsamd.org! Follow the conversation using hashtag #Chessie11.
Planning for PR programs in 2010 will be more difficult than in past years because of the dynamic and continually changing PR landscape.
Choose one: (a) strongly disagree, (b) disagree, (c) unsure, (d) agree, (e) strongly agree. Fifty percent of public relations professionals surveyed chose (e) agree, according to Frank Strong, public relations director for Vocus. Strong addressed PRSA-MD members Thursday morning at the University of Baltimore (left), where he discussed some of the factors that make PR planning increasingly difficult, and what you can do about it. Here are a few of my takeaways.
Maintain your media relationships. Last year 293 newspapers folded, 1,226 magazines disappeared, 10,000 radio employees were cut, and 100 TV stations were affected by Chapter 11. In short, massive job loss. Where are all these editors and reporters going? Some of them are getting into PR, but many are going to online publications. Wherever they move, they’ll land somewhere and may continue to be relevant contacts. So don’t let your relationships go. You never know where a sacked reporter might resurface.
Master SEO and other new media tools. Attention is the new deficit, and social media can help break the threshold. Increasingly, PR professionals are giving testimonials about how their blog or tweet or discussion board made a difference for their organization or a client. It’s not just about the message anymore. We need to think beyond text, giving more consideration to posting videos, engaging readers in conversation, tagging and, above all, SEO. Figure out which social media tools are appropriate for your organization—and learn how to use them. (Note: SEO is a must for every professional communicator’s toolbox!)
Learn crisis communications. You’ll need it. Up until now, the prevailing wisdom has been that crisis communications should be left to specialists. While this may still hold true for major crises, it’s also true that social media leaves everyone exposed to previously nonexistent dangers. Know how to respond when a customer or employee launches a withering attack at your organization or its leadership. You may not be able to control it, but you need to know how to deal with it, or better yet—prevent it.
Integrate your communications. Social media’s rejection of commercialization makes PR central to an organization’s communications efforts. Users can sniff out marketing copy, but a good PR professional knows how to connect to people with authenticity—in other words, without selling. Okay, so does a good marketer, but relationships are the essence of PR. It’s not worth considering which of these two functions is more important. They’re both important for many organizations. A better question to ask is, How can PR and marketing work together?
For more information on this topic, check out Frank Strong’s whitepaper, Meeting Change: Public Relations Planning in 2010.
Frank Strong, Director of Public Relations at Vocus, will speak at PRSA-MD’s first monthly meeting of the year—PR Annual Planning: New Thoughts, Tips & Tactics—on Thursday, Jan. 21. Specifically, Frank will be addressing the challenge of PR planning in 2010, with the sudden rise of communications technologies and the extraordinary changes in the media.
The presentation should be of interest to anyone involved in developing or implementing communications plans over the next year. For a sneak preview, see Frank’s recent white paper, Meeting Change: Public Relations Planning in 2010, available on PRSA-MD’s event registration page. In it, he discusses how PR professionals are confronted not only with a social media learning curve, but also with the need to develop communications plans and strategies without knowing what it is that they don’t know they don’t know. In other words, we expect him to tell us how to plan for the unknowable.
WEAA radio host Marc Steiner beat the Baltimore media to the punch on January 6 with an email blast at 1:36 p.m. regarding Mayor Sheila Dixon’s resignation. It was more than an hour before the main media outlets confirmed the report. By that time, the story had taken off on Facebook and Twitter.
Critics of Steiner are crying foul because he inaccurately reported that the mayor had already resigned, when in fact she will not do so officially until February 4. Here’s how one Baltimore Sun reader responded to media critic David Zurawik’s column about Steiner’s scoop: “It doesn’t count if he gets the information terribly wrong.”
Terribly wrong? That’s an overstatement.
Despite the mistake in Steiner’s initial report (which he was quick to acknowledge and correct), the story was basically right—“Dixon Resigns.” This is how the Sun reported it the next day.
Might this reader have been more forgiving had the technical inaccuracy been committed by a more traditional news source? After all, everyone knows that the news industry presents us with a first, and sometimes imprecise, draft of history. (Remember Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction?) And who says what does and “doesn’t count” as legitimate breaking news? If it informs the public, it counts.
Once upon a time, real news came exclusively from the authoritative voices of radio, television and newspapers, but the new media has changed the game. It’s now possible for a major story to break in your inbox—before ever reaching the TV cameras or the press.