Tag: Dallas

The Good, the Bad and the Shades of Grey in Popular ‘PR, Then and Now’ Infographic

Last week I started blogging about elements of an infographic created by InkHouse Media + Marketing, examining the ever-evolving role of public relations. While much of the “that was then is now” approach is spot-on – – especially the last part – – it is important to note that we don’t live in a world of black and white. There are few absolutes, but many shades of grey.

Media Tour and Phone

At first blush this may seem like a no-brainer (some would a strength of mine). Not the case. For some reason, the analogy of a hand-written thank you note comes to mind. The note will most likely have more of an impact on the recipient. It is more thoughtful.

There are absolutely times when an in-person media tour is appropriate and necessary. When determining this, think about:

  • Who is the spokesperson? Is it a CEO who is charismatic who rarely has face-time with reporters?
  • What is the topic? Is the topic sensitive in nature that a face-to-face is appropriate? Are you introducing something – a product, solution, idea – that warrants more of a hands-on approach?
  • Can you piggy-back the media tour off of an existing trip? If you do, make sure your spokesperson makes the time specifically for media interviews.

The phone call has its place. When you are responding to something or are a part of a larger story. However, you must remember:

  • Call – whenever possible – from a landline. Marginal cell phone service is an unnecessary distraction. If you are using a cell phone, be in an area with good reception.
  • No speaker phone. The reporter should think you are 100 percent engaged in the interview.
  • Quiet area. Again, distractions are bad. Don’t do an interview while driving. Not smart or safe.
  • Have your notes/key messages in front of you. See driving bullet.

2nd Day 2nd Hour

Now more than ever, PR professionals need to be buttoned-up. Deadlines are real-time and “citizen reporters” are just 140 characters away. Crisis communication plans need to be fluid and reputation management 24 hours a day.

From a proactive media relations standpoint it remains the same as it always has – – what outlet is most appropriate/relevant for the compelling message or story. The outlet of choice may change but the idea of making sure you are getting the right message to the right outlet remains intact.

Impressions and Influence

In many ways, social media is the vehicle. The content used in social media will be the driver of influence and that content is going to consist of owned and earned media.

Owned media is the content you develop and post on your blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, etc. You are in total control of your messages and the messages should be more about your real audience seeing you as a trusted source of a particular field/industry, and less about hitting your real audience over the head with your latest product or solution.

Earned media is the use of the “fourth estate” – – news outlets that cover/mention you in an article or segment. Positive coverage carries the benefit of third-party credibility. “It isn’t me saying this is great, it is your trusted news source.” Whenever possible/appropriate, earned media can and should be used on your blogs, Facebook pages, etc.

Always

The infographic goes into other comparisons but the most important part about the evolution of PR is in the last part of the infographic. No matter how we – as PR professionals – get there, these elements (listed above) will ALWAYS be the most critical. We are the voice of reason, the conscience and the face of our clients. We are gatekeepers and problem-solvers. Time and technology aren’t going to change that.

‘PR, Then and Now’ Analysis: Reporter Begot Blogger, Press Conference vs. Twitter, Media Kit or Content

Earlier this year an infographic created by InkHouse Media + Marketing examined the ever-evolving role of public relations. With your permission, I’d like to take the next few blogs to review some of the elements of the infographic.

Reporter Blogger

The media landscape has absolutely changed, as has how we get out our compelling messages to the appropriate audience. Frankly, it is overwhelming. The number of blogs is staggering, providing many opportunities and challenges.

My thoughts:

  • All bloggers are not created equally. Some will follow the “reporter’s handbook” while others…not so much.
  • In many ways, bloggers are much like newspaper columnists. His/her take on things. More opinions.
  • Whether pitching or responding, consider the reach and influence of the blogger. Frankly, very similar approach to a traditional reporter.

Press Twitter

Well, I’ve never been a fan of the staged press conference. That said, there are still instances where they makes sense. Reactionary, crisis situations where you want/need to answer a variety of questions. I believe what is trying to be illustrated here is, the days of a company having to “call a press conference” to get the message out are over. Today, companies should be interacting with their real audience regularly and, according to this, more and more are doing so.

Critical with these interactions is to not be over-the-top promoting your company. Similar to pitching a news story, most times we are part of the story – – not the entire story. In any social interaction, your real audience is fully-aware of who you are and don’t need/want the hard sale. The idea should be to position your company as an expert, someone your real audience likes and respects.

Kit Content

Along the same lines, this graphic illustrates the migration from press kits to the content I referenced above which, in addition to content on Twitter feeds, includes content on company blogs, Facebook pages, Pinterest pages, etc. All of which, again, are less promotional and more about how the company fits into their real audience’s “puzzle of life.”

We shouldn’t forgo the press kit. Thinking that media are going to go through a company’s content to find a story is a mistake. Part of our job is to act as a gatekeeper and content-editor of sorts and provide the media (here it comes) with the most compelling aspects that make a great story.

As PR professionals, we are now responsible (or should be) for both earned (traditional) and owned (social) media – – making sure those compelling messages are being delivered to the appropriate audience. And we use traditional and social media to do so.

Next week, more insights and perspectives off of the infographic.

Media Relations Best Practices: 20 Points Guaranteed to Make You – Yes You – a Better Pitcher (or Closer)

Mariano - Enter Sandman

Many pitches are developed during a brainstorm where every possible idea should be thrown out to see if it sticks.  They say no idea is a bad idea in a brainstorm and that is true – – a seemingly marginal idea can spur a great thought. I would add a caveat to that though – – go into these meetings knowing who you’re real audience is and what media is important to them.

As ideas are being flushed out, consider:

  • Timing – Is your subject topical?  When are you planning on pitching this?  Are you competing with a holiday, anniversary or big news event?  Can it be tied into this event?  Have you built in enough time to develop it correctly? What are your target outlets deadlines/closing dates?
  • News peg – Why would a reporter want to cover your topic?  What makes your topic different, better, more appealing than similar topics?  What is the headline/sound bite you want the media to use?  Has this topic/angle been covered before?
  •  Call to action – What do you want the reader/viewer/listener to do? Who is your real audience and how do you want to interact with them?
  • Heart, Mind or Wallet – Does the story affect one or more of these?
  • Key messages – Start thinking about what they would be. Do they resonate? Think specific types of media.  Will your messages be told?  Can the story be told without your client?  If so, rethink your pitch/angle.

Each media has some different “rules of engagement” to be thought of:

For print/online:

  • Is your pitch long-lead or short-lead?  Is this best for national outlets?  Local?  Trade? Bloggers? What about verticals?
  • Do you have an interesting spokesperson?  Trends/issues/statistics to leverage?
  • What photos/artwork can you leverage?
  • Can you tell a story the client’s competitors can’t?
  • Is this a straight product pitch or do you have an interesting lifestyle angle?
  • Are you working with a reporter or columnist? Reporter is supposed to be “just the facts ma’am” while a columnist can pull in his/her perspective. Bloggers are columnists who may very well not follow the same rules as reporters.

For radio:

  • Is your story simple enough for radio?  The listeners are typically distracted in a car, so the reporters keep the items short and simple.
  • What format works best for your topic? News/Talk? Oldies? Does the morning show do interviews?
  • Are you going to be interviewed by a reporter or a personality? Personality can be more engaging, but more dangerous.
  • Does the format provide an opportunity for a client mention?

For TV:

  • For a talk show, can you provide an entire panel of spokespeople vs. a one-off product?
  • How long do their segments last?
  • What is important to them?  Localized, visual?
  • Is this a good kicker segment?
  • Is the pitch hard news or better suited for the noon news?

Until somewhat recently, this “earned media” was the sole sweet spot for the PR guru/professional/practioner (we really need to get a better name for ourselves). Those days are over.

The advent of owned media – – blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google +, YouTube, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, etc. – – has provided additional avenues for PR folks to distribute compelling messages to appropriate audiences. Much has written about the evolution of public relations; I will take the next few blogs to provide my thoughts.

Developing the Compelling Message for the Appropriate Audience: Part Two – Five Questions to Determine the Role of our Real Audience and the Media (They Are Different)

Waiter

Media relations. Proactive pitching. No denying – – I love it. Also no denying, many in our field go about it the wrong way. In my last blog we talked about the one question we should always ask as we develop the pitch:

  •  How will the pitch reinforce/support the company’s or person’s vision/mission or goal?

Doing so is going to act as a litmus test.  Making sure we are aligned with the overall company vision/mission/goal and serving as a way of managing expectations for those pitches missing the mark.

As we start thinking about developing the compelling pitch for the right audience, some may ask, “which do we address first – – the compelling pitch or the right audience?” Really think it is a chicken/egg situation. Many times we are looking at both at the same time.

No matter how we start, one element critical in determining and learning about our real audience may seem counter-intuitive. We must embrace the fact our real audience is not the media. We are using the media – and the inherit third party credibility – as a way of telling our story to our real audience.

We should be asking ourselves:

  • What is the story for my real audience?
  • What is most important to them?
  • How do we fit into the story/can the story be told without us?
  • What does the media need to tell that story?
  • How can I best work with the media in telling that story?

Ideally, by understanding the reading, watching and listening habits of our real audience, and understanding what is important to the different outlets and formats, we should be able to match our pitch to the right paper/blog/site, television news/talk show, and radio outlet. We should also be able to determine if the pitch is best suited locally, nationally, for the trades, etc.

This means, if we do our job right, we are equal parts reporter/producer and PR professional. We are working with the media in providing our mutual real audience with the right story.

For those who know me, know I’m fond of saying, “the goal should be that we find ourselves on the same side of the desk as the media.” Part of our job is to make covering the pitch as easy as possible for the media, meaning there may be times when we are offering aspects of the story that may not seem right to our client.

Wine for Table Seven

I was working with a publisher and two authors (both doctors) on a book about the health benefits of drinking wine. One of the chapters focused on the premise that if you were pregnant and routinely had a glass of red wine prior to being pregnant, there were no health risks associated with having a glass during your pregnancy (throughout the book, the doctors mentioned to always check with a physician before doing anything).  This was the chapter we decided to focus on in promoting the book.

Publisher and authors wanted to go after national television. To do so, we said, we would want to finish the story for our real audience who would want to know the other viewpoint. We explained, for a national segment, the press will want/need to get the other side of the story and if we could give them that side, all the better.

We asked the doctors what groups would have some strong feelings about their chapter. They mentioned an organization whose cause was Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) awareness and said they have had conversations with the organization’s spokeswoman.

To make a long blog short (too late), we reached out to the organization, provided their spokesperson with an advance copy of the chapter and got her to agree to make herself available for interviews.

Part of the results were segments on Larry King Live and Today.

Both producers used our people exclusively for their segments because we did their homework for them. Larry King was first and Today was the following morning (we had the better looking doctor do both interviews and flew him into the Today Show from DC while the woman did the Today interview via satellite – – whenever possible I’ve found it better to do interviews, especially controversial, in-person). We didn’t spokesperson train their person or give her insights we came across from talking to the producers, etc.

Suffice to say, the segments went very well. Publisher and authors were pleased, producers thanked us for helping with the segments and the opposing organization was happy to be included and felt they got their messages across.

Reality is, the fourth estate is strapped for time and resources. A good pitch including all sides of the story is going to be a tremendous help and can speed up the process of getting the story published/on the air.

In my next blog, we’ll talk about the specific questions to ask as you develop the pitch and breakdown things to consider outlet to outlet.

Developing the Compelling Message for the Appropriate Audience: Part One – The Question You Must Ask When Creating a Pitch

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Media relations can be one of the most rewarding aspects of marketing communications/public relations.  Seeing the total fruition of your work – from learning about your client and the media to developing a compelling story for the appropriate journalist to pitching that reporter, to seeing your client on-air/in-print, on the Internet – – should be a great feeling.

Working with the media does have an inherent set of obstacles.  Arguably, the biggest hurdle we face is that we are in an industry where many of our peers do not always work smart or strategically with reporters, editors and producers.

Whether it is sending out mass mailings, blindly calling an outlet without understanding what that outlet is all about, or e-mailing attachments to an inappropriate contact, some of our brethren have created an adversarial relationship with the media.

We must be sure that we do not demean or devalue what we do.  When we do things the right way – that is create and develop a compelling/great story and provide it to the appropriate audience – we become a tremendous asset to the media and our clients.

Let’s use the next few blogs to take a look at developing the compelling message for the appropriate audience, as it relates to the media.

Pitch development can occur many different ways. Group brainstorm. Someone approaches you and asks you to promote X. You see something that your client is doing you believe to be newsworthy. Many different scenarios. No matter the situation, as you are developing the pitch, you should be asking yourself the following:

  • How does the pitch reinforce/support the company’s or person’s vision/mission or goal?

To be clear, I’m not trying to make this harder than it is – contrary. By successfully illustrating how your pitch reinforces/supports the company’s or person’s vision/mission or goal, you are keeping yourself on the right track and helping to manage expectations.

For example, years ago I worked at an agency whose client was a wireless phone manufacturer. They were launching one of the first camera phones (told you it was years ago) “just in time” for the holidays.

One of the ideas we came up with – which we ended up running with – was to shoot b-roll of Santa Claus on his last vacation before the big holiday push, in Miami Beach taking pictures with his camera phone – – the coolest gift for the holiday season. Within the footage we had consumers commenting about the phone and we interviewed an analyst who talked about how and why the camera phone was going to be “the next big thing.”

We were confident the pitch supported the overall company goal of becoming a top five wireless phone maker in the U.S. because of the timeliness and quirkiness of the piece. We felt we had a complete story that would make its way onto local news affiliates across the country as a feel-good/kicker segment.

And since I’ve included this example this blog, I’m happy to say that the pitch was a huge success and with many stories like this, we were able to help the company achieve their goal of top five wireless phone maker within two years of launch (reached number two in 2004).

In my next blog, I’ll talk about the appropriate audience within the “compelling for appropriate” equation and I’ll provide some thoughts on how to develop that compelling pitch.

The News Release Quandary: Three of the Most Asked Questions, Answered and Three Tips to Writing the Better Release

Image

Recently, our friend the news release and his/her kissing cousin – securing coverage – have been coming up in several conversations.

  • Should I be sending out a release once a week?
  • Is there a limit as to the amount of releases you should send out?
  • How do you write for a benign topic?

Before I take a stab at answering these questions, I’d like to take a quick step back to talk about what I view as my job.

I develop compelling stories for the appropriate audiences. I make my money – in part – by understanding what is news, what makes news and how to best present the news in a way that is going to provide the biggest bang for my client’s buck. Throughout my career, I’ve mentored individuals on getting to the point where they can confidently and accurately pitch a story and, in the same regard, explain why I particular idea is not appropriate to pitch.

The news release should be viewed as a communication tool. It is not just for breakfast anymore. As a matter of fact, it is used less by mainstream media and used more as a Search Engine Optimization vehicle.

Your business reporter at the Orange County Register, Austin Statesman, Oregonian, New York Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, etc. is not looking at the releases coming across their desk from PR Newswire, Business Wire, PR Web or others. Either are the producers at Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Nightly Business Report, Extra, Good Day Dallas, etc. They are looking at wire stories from Associated Press and Reuters among others. They are looking on their Twitter feeds, following those individuals in those industries of interest to them.

For the overwhelming majority of instances, if the desire is to secure media coverage, you will need to reach out to reporters and producers directly. Sending out a release over the wire and waiting isn’t going to cut it.

Again, the release is a tool. As is a blog post, video or social post. Understand what you are wanting to accomplish and who you are wanting to reach. Develop the compelling message and determine the best vehicle.

Now, onto the questions:

  1. Should I be sending out a release once a week? Most likely no and you shouldn’t be thinking “just releases” when you are wanting to reach your real audience. Ask yourself – what is the story, who am I trying to reach and what is the best way of reaching them?
  1. Is there a limit as to the amount of releases you should send out? No, the true newsworthiness and the desired result of the communication should determine how many types of communications should be sent out (again, not just the release).
  1. How do you write for a benign topic? You don’t. Whether it is a release, blog, post or video, if it doesn’t resonate with someone, don’t do it.

When writing a news release (or any communication in which you are pitching), remember the following:

  1. Grammar counts. Don’t turn off the media or your real audience with improper usage.
  1. Write for your real audience, not your client. Shouldn’t be about making sure your client’s name is the first word in the release. Compelling story for the real story.
  1. Short and sweet. Use quotes sparingly and only when the quote moves the story forward.

As it relates to media relations, if/when you send out a release (or fact sheet, email, advisory, etc.) and reach out to a reporter or producer – – don’t ask if they’ve received the release. Pitch them the compelling story.

Top Five Blogs You Missed Out On Because I Didn’t Include ‘Top, Most or Least’ in the Headline

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I’ve been doing the blog thing for several months now and I’m very happy with how it has been going. Cathartic. Good networking. Nice back and forth.

One of the aspects I’ve enjoyed, is diving down deep into the analysts behind the posts – – best days to post; relevant topics; countries viewing.

The highest viewed posts all had one thing in common:

Don’t think it is a love for the number five. Seems to be an affinity for lists. People love list. Letterman’s Top 10 List. Healthiest Cities. Best Movies. You get the idea.

As I reviewed other blogs appearing on LinkedIn, I saw many list-centric headlines receiving more comments and feedback than those blogs without.

But what about those blogs that did not use those aforementioned list-centric headlines? Where’s the love?

Okay without further ado, here is my list of Top Five (maybe there is something to the number five) Blogs That Didn’t Get the Attention They Should Have Received:

#5 – Controlling the Controllables (or the Time I was Confused for Olympic Gold Medalist, Michael Johnson….No, Really) – In a profession where we rely on third-parties to tell our messages, how can we best control those things that are within our grasp.

#4 – When it Comes to Covering the News, Who is the Boss? – Are the news outlets covering social media or is social media reporting on what is news.

#3 – The Evolution of the Placement: Taking “Crawl, Walk, Run” Up a Few Notches – Today, the savvy public relations professional doesn’t and shouldn’t solely rely on the media to reach his/her audience. Blogging, creating relevant videos, posting appropriate content socially, helps create a direct line to the people you want to reach.

#2 – When a Great Placement Isn’t: How and Why To Manage Expectations – When it comes to managing expectations, it comes down to two things: Understanding the media and understanding your client (and your client can be your boss/CEO if you are on the corporate side of things or, if you are on the agency side your client can be…your client).

#1 – The New Company Spokespeople are on Social Media Sites and Instant Chats; Should Execs Be Afraid? – Are the people who are talking to reporters and producers, responding to social media inquiries?  Should they?

How ‘Outstanding Citizenship with Suitable Academic Merit’ Can Translate to Leadership

ImageI think we all have that one outdated, old, ratty item we all still keep by our side. Maybe a worn out shirt or a baseball cap from a team gone by. For me, it is a dictionary I was awarded in sixth grade. Written on the inside cover is, “Presented to Andrew Shane for outstanding citizenship with suitable academic merit.”

Initially I really didn’t think much about the note. Made my way through junior and high school, attended Lehigh University and started my public relations career where I found myself managing, mentoring and leading.

It was probably my early twenties when I reached for the dictionary that was on a shelf at my parent’s house. Suitable academic merit? Really? Not that I have my sixth grade report card handy (maybe I should have kept it in the dictionary), but I’m pretty confident I was better than suitable.

Now, entrenched in my forties, I will take a look at the dictionary and smile. A July10th  Inc. article argues if you want to be an exceptional leader, warmth and approachability matter far more than competence. The reporter states, “Most leaders emphasize strength, competence, and credentials at work, but, according to a recent Harvard Business Review article, that’s exactly what you don’t want to do.

“The article authors, Amy J.C. Cuddy, a Harvard Business School professor, and Matthew Kohut and John Neffinger, who also wrote Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential, say employees react best to leaders who exude warmth, and authentically invest time and effort to connect with them.”

I’ve tried to live by this. From a purely philosophical standpoint, it is as simple as the Golden Rule. From a practical perspective, today’s work environment can be so volatile – – in the last seven years I’ve gone through two bankruptcies and five CEO changes – – you need a team willing to do what it takes to do the job right and that means providing them with honesty, openness and the means to get that job done.

So what does that mean? Leaders treat their employees with respect, explaining why, what they are doing is important. Leaders are as only as good as their team, meaning leaders need employees who will work with a sense of pride and urgency, doing so – when needed – during times other than 9-5.

For me, a variety of – what I view as – simple things help build a good team:

  • Flexible work hours. You bet – – family first.
  • Opportunities to shine. Wouldn’t have it any other way.
  • Team lunches on me. Love to eat.
  • No politics. Never with me.
  • Door always open to discuss anything and everything knowing it stays in my office. That is what I’m here for.
  • Have fun doing it. A little song, a little dance…you know the rest.

Obviously you don’t want to go overboard. There is a line between being a great boss and a pushover. And not every great boss is a leader.

Leaders for me are fair but firm. Want you to succeed and provide you with the tools to do so. Leaders are great listeners and are willing to share their successes and failures. Patient. Hold people accountable. Praise in public and provide “opportunities for growth” privately.

In other words, the successful leader should have enough “skins on the wall” at his/her craft, but must be able to empathize and really care about his/her employees… outstanding citizenship with suitable academic merit – – maybe my elementary school did have the right idea.

The Perils of Feeding the Beast

scary-beast

The Paula Deen saga is the latest – but certainly not the last – instance of “celebrity done wrong” that brings with it the onslaught of communication experts, crisis counselors and image consultants offering their take on how to saunter back toward grace.

The advice is usually sound – – fess up to your mistake; make good with the offended group; be sincere, etc.

What you don’t typically hear from the pundits are two things: One, it isn’t surprising that Celebrity X slipped up and two, in many ways it is our own damn fault that the transgression is newsworthy.

Whether it is Paula Deen, the Kardashians or Paris Hilton before them, the Bachelor or Bachelorette, we live in a Reality TV world where we want to know what the Real Housewives think and what Duck Dynasty is doing away from the pond.

It will be interesting to see if Deen bounces back. Dropped sponsors. Lost book deal. Cancelled TV show. That said, we live in a forgiving society even more forgiving of certain transgressions when the offender has something to offer – perceived or otherwise – we find entertaining. It seems to be less about being contrite and more about surviving the social backlash while waiting for the next few news cycles to pass.

Is there anything we can do to prevent these outbursts from occurring and being covered?  Probably not.

From a celebrity standpoint, no amount of spokesperson training can change who you are and what you believe – – especially when your celebrity persona/brand is one that is outlandish and talking from the hip. One of the challenges celebrities and other high-profile/public eye individuals face is the: 15 second sound-bite/140 character/attention-span light society that we live in…actually, that is a double-edge sword.

On one hand, there certainly is a percentage of people who treat as gospel things heard second or third hand. On the other hand, there is also a percentage of individuals (with some overlap) who gravitate over to the latest shiny, new person.

From a consumer standpoint, as long as we elevate those looking for their 15 minutes onto a pedestal, we will always have rants, ignorant comments and questionable behavior making headlines. Until we are honest with ourselves and take the source for what it is worth, we will have TMZ, your local Contemporary Hit Radio station and even Matt Lauer and Today reporting on marginal news.

Many have said Paula didn’t mean anything by her comments and it was just – with apologies to Manny Ramirez – Paula being Paula. And that may very well be the case.

So the question remains: Are we good with Paula being Paula, Kim being Kim and Honey Boo Boo being Honey Boo Boo?

Five Sure-Fire Ways to Better Measure Your PR Campaigns (Or How to Prove Value to Your Clients)

Ruler

I must apologize for being away for a little bit – – combination of life and writer’s block. That said, I’ve recommitted myself to my blog and I’m excited to get back on track. My goal is one blog a week.

I have several topics I want to discuss:

  •  Measuring media relations and public relations
  • Branding and PR – – developing and protecting your brand; and the relationship PR needs to have in sustaining a healthy brand
  • Social media – – not sure if everyone is sold on the role PR should have with social media

So, let’s start with measurement. I’ve been away from the agency scene for seven years and the ideas behind measurement have since evolved. Seven, 10 years ago aside from circulation, readership, listenership and viewership (as well as all the ships at sea) it was all about ad equivalency and public relations value. Ad equivalency was pretty straight forward.

The thinking being, how much it would cost you to place an ad with the given media for the placement. In other words, my client was part of a three-minute segment on the local news station. An ad on the local station cost X dollars for a :30 second spot, the ad value would be 6X. A quarter page ad cost X dollars in the local paper. We were part of a half page story. 2X.

Publicity Value factored in the third-party credibility of the story appearing in a trusted outlet as opposed to an ad. And this is where it got tricky. Depending on whom you would ask, the ad equivalency would be multiplied by two or 2.5 or three or – I had some “peers” say – 3.5.

Now back then, we would also factor in tonality and messaging when talking measurement, but the pervading thought was to provide the client with a dollar figure to reconcile the cost of the campaign.

For me, it seemed like the industry had an inferiority complex and was trying to rationalize existence. I had several issues with the thinking. For example, it seemed disingenuous to always include the full ad equivalency for a segment that wasn’t completely about us (or an article). We were affixing the same value to a front page story and a paragraph on page twelve. The same value for a lead segment versus part of a kicker. What were we doing if we were mentioned in a tease? Or if we didn’t get all of our messages across?

Looking at today’s landscape, one could see more challenges with measuring and determining the value of a placement. What do you do with an online story? Or a blog? How do you measure the value of a Facebook post? A retweet?

While this could be looked at as more opportunities for PR inferiority and insecurities, I truly believe this is the time for PR to shine and show our value. For the last seven years, I’ve been on the corporate side of the house and the best chance for anything PR to be viewed as valuable is when we have “a seat at the table” and are part of the process in determining the following with company executives:

  • What are the desired results of the campaign? Whether it is increased sales, brand awareness, positioning the company as a leader, issues management, etc., get it out and agreed upon ahead of time.
  • Embrace the story you are going to tell. Make sure you created the compelling messages for the appropriate audience. Will you attain your desired results with these messages? Is there a call to action? Is everyone on the same page?
  •  Agree on the messaging; what are the most important messages (“If I can only get one message in, it is X”), and make sure your spokesperson goes through good spokesperson training (I’d recommend having your main client contact and whatever executives you can, go through the training – – even if they aren’t your spokesperson. They will better understand the value of the placement).
    • Tier the placements. Is your real audience reading, listening and watching the outlets you are approaching? What is the home run placement and why? Single, double, triple (sorry, baseball season – – go Yankees). Not necessarily suggesting a pay for play schedule. Understanding and agreeing on what is important is vital. This is also an opportunity to manage expectations and, if applicable, talk Crawl, Walk and Run.
  • Discuss the marketing of  the placement. Is there a sales force that can use the segment? Do you have a Facebook, Twitter or other social page that the story can be posted on?  Are you able to monitor those who may post on their own or comment on the story (there are many services that do this)?
  • Is it appropriate to survey before and after a campaign? Best to do so for issues management or brand awareness.

Ad equivalency can still be used (I wouldn’t) but it doesn’t provide a complete picture and – in many ways – undermines the true value of public relations. Stay clear of publicity value. You’ll find yourself arguing why you are multiplying two or three instead of relishing in the greatness of a placement.

As an industry, we need to strive to get into the board room (real or virtual) and have the ear of management. Not doing so will doom us to being a communications afterthought.