ABCs of PR
Successful public relations (PR) that generates positive media for an organization not only provides the equivalent of free advertising, but, more critically, can offer an independent, comparatively objective, validation of the organization’s marketing and branding claims.
Here are the basic prerequisites, the “ABCs,” for PR success:
A. Comprehensive Approach
A successful PR strategy must be comprehensive in nature, addressing, in clearly delineated written detail, both the short- and long-term challenges and opportunities of an organization. The best route to sustained PR success is one illuminated by clarity of purpose not one shrouded by hedged bets and uncertainty.
The PR strategy should also, ideally, offer creative new initiatives that can build on the basic, day-to-day PR activity and help meet or exceed the organization’s long-term goals. A PR strategy must feature, in short, a running game and a passing game. As in football, both are the necessary components of a winning strategy.
B. Understanding of Media
Understanding how reporters/editors tend to think is essential to PR success. PR professionals should always be sensitive to what journalists perceive to be proper PR etiquette, and to recognize that journalists’ primary concern is not your organization, but their readers, viewers, listeners.
Most fundamentally, one must understand and respect the concept of newsworthiness. Too often, developments that an organization may trumpet loudly as newsworthy may be dismissed as nothing more than annoying noise by reporters. This is particularly true in today’s world of the 24-hour news cycle, where in mere seconds anyone can be a journalist anywhere, through a spectrum of media. These days, when seeking stories, reporters have to work overtime to separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff.
Many journalists also dislike being treated as “marketing surrogates” by businesses and other organizations. While most organizations must and should use PR to advance marketing goals, it should be done in a way that identifies, translates and highlights the elements of a marketing message that will likely be viewed as most newsworthy by reporters.
That not only demonstrates sensitivity to the reporter’s agenda, rather than just your own, but, more significantly, may also increase the chances of an outcome that’s most desired – a positive news story. At most, good PR can somewhat influence reporters’ hearts and minds, but it can never control them nor seen to be trying through heavy-handed tactics.
C. Well-Honed Messaging
Effective PR messaging strives for the three “Cs”: concise, clear and compelling language. The strongest public messaging is akin to a multivitamin pill — containing all the right nutrients but quite easy to swallow. Remember, Lincoln’s iconic Gettysburg Address contained just 272 words. The now-forgotten speech that preceded it clocked in at a tedious two hours!
Marc Brailov has over 20 years of experience in public relations, corporate communications, marketing, and public policy and legislative advocacy.