Posts Tagged ‘corporate PR’

Change Your Expectations For Top-Tier Media Coverage

March 19, 2013

The rise of inbound marketing is tied inexorably to the decline of both advertising and the traditional media.

By now most of you who read the Bridgebuzz blog have heard my rants about the death of the mainstream media.  The Pew Research Center, a non-profit research organization, recently reported that for every dollar newspapers are earning from online advertising, they are losing $10 in print ad revenue. Print ad revenues now are less than half what they were in 2006. It’s no wonder that  the newspaper industry alone – not including any magazines, TV or radio, all of which have also had massive layoffs – cut 39,000 jobs between the beginning of 2008 and the end of 2012, according to the website Papercuts, which tracks newspaper layoffs.

The number of (employed) journalists in the U.S. continues to shrink, according to the Pew Research Center’s newest annual report, “The State of the News Media 2013.”The Pew report concludes that a continued erosion of news reporting resources has taken place at the same time that capabilities have improved for bypassing the media altogether and going directly to the public. This is the crucial message that I want the readers of this blog to understand.  Clients and prospective clients, hear this: you can no longer depend on the media to get your messages out to your target audiences.  No matter what your PR firm is telling you about their stellar media relations capabilities, you need to know that:

RIP Newsweek

  • There are now 30% fewer U.S. journalists employed than in 2000.
  • The number of stories produced by CNN has been cut in half since 2007. (You must have known this – how many times can they repeat the same stories over and over again in one evening!)
  • The number of live events produced by the three U.S. cable news channels has decreased by about 30% in the past five years, while interview stories, which require much less resources to produce, are up by about the same amount.
  • Newsweek bit the dust last year and now the only remaining weekly news magazine is Time, which made another cut in its editorial staff just recently.
  • According to the Pew Report, an increasing number of media are using a new automated technology that produces editorial content without the need for any human reporting at all, believe it or not. Forbes is one of the publications using this technology (ostensibly to supplement what its reporters are doing, since it’s inconceivable that a computer algorithm could totally replace the editorial staff – yet, at least.
  • People are noticing that the media they used to rely on for news is a shadow of its former self.  The Pew survey shows that 31% have stopped reading or listening to a news outlet because it no longer provides the news it used to provide.

PR agencies know this has been happening and understand what it means for the work they do: it’s much, much harder to obtain media coverage for our clients than even a few years ago, because the media are producing dramatically less news and information. But companies that hire PR agencies don’t seem to grasp this. Every potential client we speak to is looking for top-tier media coverage, yet getting into that level of media just doesn’t happen as frequently as it used to. As I said, no matter what PR firms are telling you about their ability to do this for you, beware, because there’s very little chance they’ll be able to deliver, no matter how good they.

If you’re one of the many communications and marketing professionals demanding what you have always been able to get in the past from your PR agency, top-tier media coverage and lots of it, please open your mind to new communications techniques.  After all, it’s the end that counts – reaching your audience with the information and messages you want to convey, rather than the means, isn’t it? As the Pew Center Report pointed out, technologies have been improving all the time for totally bypassing the traditional media and going directly to your target audience. The most savvy PR people have already acknowledged the need to do this and have become “PR journalists,” producing their own high-quality materials (articles, videos, podcasts, white papers, etc.) that they distribute online in a variety of ways, including use of social media and other online platforms. You’ll hear this called content marketing, inbound marketing and permission marketing. The same content can be used and repurposed in many ways, a method an NPR executive once called “COPE,” “Create Once, Publish Everywhere.”

In order for this type of communications to be successful in meeting your goals, it must be of very high-quality. It can’t be promotional, it can’t be self-serving, and you must provide value from the point of view of the audience – not the point of view of your boss or your company’s CEO. Luckily, there are some really good PR journalists available these days (some were trained as journalists before they went down the PR agency path). Don’t try to find them at ad agencies or digital marketing firms – look for them where you’ve always looked for help in communicating with the media: agencies that provide public relations and corporate communications services.  They will understand what you’re trying to accomplish and have the skills to be able to help.

Some of you who are reading this are thinking, “But my boss [or the CEO, or the CMO, or the company’s board, or all of the above) wants top tier media coverage, and that’s what I need our PR agency to get if I want to keep my job.” I’ll put the ball in your court. It’s up to you to educate that internal audience about the changing reality in the media today.

I’m sure as hell not saying that PR firms can’t get top tier media coverage anymore. Obviously, we do. But we don’t get it as frequently as we used to or as you’d like us to. There, I’ve put my neck on the line. You can believe me and start thinking hard about inbound marketing and content marketing as a way to inform and persuade your target audience, or not. If you’re curious to know more about how it works, read our new e-book about inbound marketing.

 

Lucy Siegel

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Who Should Interact With Your PR Firm?

March 13, 2013

This blog post is courtesy of Scott Phillips of Scott Phillips + Associates:

Who-should-interact-with-your-PR-firmYou’ve gone through the process of selecting a public relations firm and are moving fast to get them up to speed and producing.   Depending on the size and structure of your company, you are probably a senior marketing executive, a product or brand specialist or perhaps even the company founder.

You are the interface between your new PR firm and the rest of the company.  Do they need to work with anyone else?   The answer is yes.

In fact, my preference is to get to know as many people in your company as possible.

The Corner Offices:  If you are going to report to superiors about our joint progress, I would like to know those individuals.  Our firm will benefit from understanding the expectations of your company’s most senior executives, as well as their vision, concerns and ideas about your competitive differentiation.

The Inside Guys:  Whether we are supporting a product, service or even a critical issue, somebody in your company was responsible for its creation or the development of the company’s position.  He or she has all the “inside baseball” information and will likely be our go-to source for in-depth explanations, technical details and the answers to questions we haven’t even thought of yet.   He or she might also be a great source for trade interviews, but we need to know that person to help make that determination.

The Finance Guys:  Whether you have a VP of Finance or CFO, that person’s perspective is always important to all of us.  From a strategic position, I want to know his or her financial objectives and concerns.  From a practical perspective, I want to know your company’s requirements for things like invoicing, expenses, etc.

Our Co-Marketers:  If you are working with an ad agency or separate social media provider, our efforts need to be coordinated.  We need to collaborate on everything from messaging to campaign timing.

The Sales Team:  The members of your sales team – the folks in the field – are among our most important contacts.   While you will direct our day-to-efforts, the sales team has information we can’t get elsewhere.   They know what messaging resonates with your audiences, the advantages you have over your competitors and where you might sometimes come up short.  They also are the first alert for pending deals and critical issues that might not get to your desk for some time.

In short, more is better.  We’ve all committed to working as a team, and we can do that best by getting to know all the players.

“If You Don’t Tell Your Story, People Won’t Show Up!”

July 6, 2011

Last week a news item about the State of Washington was all over the travel trade media, and was reported by AP and on National Public Radio, as well.

The Washington state government announced that it was eliminating the budget it uses to promote the state as a tourist destination and attract visitors.  Yet, according to the NPR report, tourism is the fastest growing industry in the world.

When asked what he thought about this, the head of Colorado’s state tourism organization laughed and said, “Frankly, I think it’s an opportunity for Colorado. If you don’t tell your story, people won’t show up.”

He couldn’t have said it better. There’s a lesson for organizations that have cut, or are thinking of cutting, their PR budgets. Telling your story is one of the two most important functions of public relations (the other one is listening). If they don’t hear your story, customers will listen to someone else’s.

It’s very simple, really: if you don’t tell your story, people won’t show up.

Lucy Siegel

Can a Good Corporate Reputation Be Unprofitable?

October 8, 2010

This week the Wall Street Journal featured an article about risk to corporate reputations that cited a survey in which 80 percent of CEOs said this was their top concern. The writer concluded, however, “Reputational management is still too often something that companies feel they should do rather than something that they want to do. A good reputation is hard to quantify and may actually get in the way of delivering short-term profits or cutting costs.”

Reasonable people could disagree about how a corporate reputation should be quantified.  But when faced with surveys showing increased or decreased approval of the company, most would agree on the direction in which reputation is heading.   That alone is a valuable piece of information for a CEO to consider.

I don’t believe that a good reputation can interfere with positive short-term corporate results or with cost-cutting. The author seems to be implying that a company may need to produce poor products or act in a way that is unethical or inhumane in order to make a short-term profit. Since the reputational fallout from this kind of corporate behavior can have a negative effect on long-term profits, corporate managers who believe it pays to sacrifice reputation in order to make a short-term profit are very short-sighted.  

Cost-cutting such as staff downsizing doesn’t necessarily harm reputation if done in a logical and sensitive way.  Even though employees may fear and resent the effects of layoffs, in recent years they’ve seen other companies going out of business.  They’re aware that cost-cutting, even layoffs, may be necessary for survival.  

However, the author is right that many corporations don’t like to deal with reputation management.  I believe the reason most corporate managers are uncomfortable with this part of their business is because there are no formulas for success or for solving problems.  Each decision that has to be made is a judgment call, and those related to reputation sometimes have to be made immediately. For example, when there’s a crisis, there’s no time to appoint a task force to study the issue and make recommendations. The direction has to be decided at the top, and the boss’s decisions can be criticized later if things go wrong.   

This is where corporate PR counselors, whose sole focus is reputation, can be extremely valuable. They are trained to look at the issues from all sides and analyze the way different actions will be perceived by key audiences. 

Foreign companies in the U.S. and start-ups, the types of clients we specialize in serving at Bridge Global Strategies, are particularly prone to neglecting corporate PR. Start-ups generally put public relations emphasis on their products rather than the corporation. Understandably, they need to build revenue quickly in order to survive. Foreign companies frequently don’t understand the need for corporate PR in the U.S. and they, too, often focus their communications efforts totally on sales.  But if corporate reputation is damaged, customers won’t buy, no matter how much sales promotion a company does.

As reluctant as many companies are to spend the time and money on corporate PR, the cost of ongoing reputation management counseling is trivial compared to the cost of a damaged corporate reputation, or the effects of being entangled in serious crises.

 Lucy Siegel


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