Thursday, August 12, 2010

Public Relations in the Mix

Public Relations is the management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with public interests, and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance
-Public Relations News

Have used a benchmark for return on any investments in public relations activity. That return comes in the form of media exposure that is roughly converted to advertising value and or any monitoring of your key stakeholders/publics attitudes. Understand that advertising value is not an ideal way to measure public relations activity.

A steady stream of press releases featuring projects, personnel and expertise can add value to an existing advertising schedule. Indeed, media placements through public relations efforts can have an even greater value than paid media. Successful placements through PR efforts generally results in greater credibility for our message. It takes an ongoing program to assure 1) the message(s) are accurate and positive toward the brand, 2) the messages complement other elements of our marketing communications program (direct mail, advertising, trade shows etc.) and 3) the placements are timely and in appropriate editorial environments.

The following public relations tactics can result in impressive return on investment if you stay focused on execution, detail and follow through.

Project or product Profile/Releases – Projects wins and/or products. Take advantage of good news to further promote the company. Key milestones and activities such as ribbon-cutting ceremonies can create news of interest.

Personnel Releases – New hires, promotions and personnel news enhance the image of the company as a going concern. Sometiems business development personnel tend to get more emphasis as they are “front line” contacts but don't forget about the accounting, operatiosn, finance and support functions.

Conferences/Trade Show Opportunities –Leveraging our sponsorship or participation in conferences and look for opportunities to further reinforce involvement with editorial treatment in and around issues featuring such events.

Interviews/Expertise – Where appropriate look for opportunities for expertise to be included in stories related to your industry. This tactic is often under-utilized due to reluctance of qualified individuals to act as spokesmen.

Bylined Articles – Perhaps the best use of public relations, is the routine development of by-lined articles. Stories authored article by your firm's experts will generate interest and are more likely to be placed with limited distortion or interpretation.

To accomplish the above items it becomes necessary to:
Cultivate relationships with editors, writers and publishers.
Understand trade show/conference opportunities.
Have a thorough understanding of editorial calendars and what your firm might bring to the table in partnership with editors.
Develop and release a steady stream of items to stay on the radar of editors/publishers. Prepare bylined articles in anticipation of being able to place them. (Proactive) Develop and update Media Kits.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Quest

The President made the following remarks as part of a White House celebration of Broadway Theater on July 19, 2010

“Over the years, musicals have also been at the forefront of our social consciousness, challenging stereotypes, shaping our opinions about race and religion, death and disease, power and politics. But perhaps the most American part of this truly American art form is its optimism.”

My Mom, for years, was an accomplished director in community theater in the greater Cleveland area. A career highlights was a production of Man of La Mancha in a little theater called Clague Playhouse. Then theater couldn’t have had more than 250 seats at full capacity. I was still in High School at the time, but couldn’t help being impressed by her attention to detail and her command of the material. Rehearsals were thorough and all the players were well prepared for opening day. Her direction, notably the brilliant collaboration with her musical director, resulted in rave reviews. I remember it like it was yesterday, even though in reality it was easily more than thirty years ago.
If you know the play, you know it is a great inspiration. Don Quixote spends so much of his time chasing windmills (he says are dragons) and accepting the Knighthood (Knight of the Woeful Countenance) with a shaving basin (he believes to be a golden helmet) and befriending Sancho Panza (as his loyal servant) in a series of fantastic adventures. Though delusional, our hero helps the entire cast of characters (and indeed the audience) realize that pursuit of a dream can have an incredible and profound impact on all of those around you. The director (my mother) knew, all too well, of the power of this message.
To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far
Today, Mom is advancing in years and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. She wouldn’t remember the music or the play. But she fights every day and I’m proud of her struggle against the odds just like that play’s protagonist. I know I’m not alone in being inspired by her efforts so many years ago. I realize only now how really important and exponentially large that selfless contribution to community theater really was. It brings a smile and a tear when I remember it. I love you Mom.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why so Optimistic?

A short answer:
There tens of thousands of individual volunteers in communities big and small who conduct thousands of service projects each year, serving millions (young and old) to make the world a better place. The investment is in hours and dollars, annually and the generosity is staggering. It is something, of which, we should all want to be a part. Together we can accomplish so much.
A longer answer (and mostly opinion):
The longer answer could very well involve a lot of anecdotal stories that help illustrate the goodness that comes from even the seemingly small acts of kindness. George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart in the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life is a illustration of the impact one person can have on so many others. He’s a great character who finds himself in a depressed state over a setback involving the financial institution he runs in the small town of Bedford Falls. Lucky for George, Clarence the Guardian Angel helps him see what an impact he’s truly had on his friends, family and neighbors. The movie is a holiday classic, but I invite you to view it any time of the year if you need a reason to reach out to people in need (Children in particular).
Life is not always easy. Interestingly, the impact we can all have is harder to see when all is well and there is no adversity. It’s when the going gets tough, and we face challenges (sometimes against impossible odds) that it becomes abundantly clear just how beautiful and precious life can be. Everybody needs help, some more than others. To borrow from a popular song: People who have people are the luckiest people in the world.
The glass is not half empty. There is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s always darkest just before dawn. Every dark cloud has a silver lining. Yikes, these clich├ęs are repeated so often you got to hope they don’t lose their intent and become empty sentiments. People want to be optimistic. It’s so very important not to forget why. We need to believe in the power of action, in deeds. They speak so much louder than words. Words are so completely inadequate to express what every Optimist knows in his or her heart. Thank You.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Anti - Social Media

I wouldn't be foolish enough, in the face of the new paradigm of global communications, to suggest that social media is silly, foolish, frivolous or unimportant (at least some of the time). What I will say is that we all need to slow down just a little bit and think. "Ready. Fire. Aim." is not how we want to communicate in a civilized society.

To be sure, the new model of communication allows for a far greater involvement of more people. Hopefully that results in a fuller understanding of the range of experiences people have as they engage the daily challenges of the world. The gatekeepers of public opinion no longer have the power that was once in place. Or at least the gatekeepers are no longer anointed by highly respected print publications. Case in point: You no longer need to read the New York Times to decide if you are going to purchase Broadway Show tickets. Instead, you might make that decision after searching aimlessly on the world wide web.

Still the Social Media phenomenon is anything but social. The Alpha-dogs in social media are those individuals who embraced it early and seized the day. But if you speak loudest and most, are you really engaged in a dialogue? You cannot deny the power of an amplified word-of-mouth and the thousands of anecdotal business success stories that are attributed to alternate media and shrewd use of the new channels available to anyone who has a laptop.

The good news is that we are entering an age of transparency. The curtain has been pulled back from the Wizard of Oz only to reveal an all to human from Kansas. The great an powerful wizard has spoken and, well he's only human and he's just one man trying to solve a lot of problems. There's no place like home.