Litigation, activism, Santa and communicating with your audience…

 I have said this before and I am saying it again, soon the most desirable qualification a PR professional can have is a law degree. Santa Barbara County prosecutors announced they are filing charges against Michael Jackson and in the same breath announce they’ve hired a PR firm to handle media relations around the filing.

 Ross Irvine evaluates how traditional methods of influencing public policy are falling behind the grass-roots activists who use networks to influence opinion and policy.

 Colin McKay is getting into the spirit of the season with a whole array of PR postings for Santa Claus…

 The Online Journalism Review looks at how celebrities in trouble are turning to the web to communicate directly with their audiences. On a related note, Jeff Bridges (who is not in ANY trouble) has one of the most innovative fan sites I’ve seen.  He hand writes updates to the site and then has his entries scanned and posted…

The life and times of a PR junior…

One of the topics myself and Phil Gomes discussed last week was the antiquated merit system applied in most, though not all, PR agencies.

You start at the bottom doing all the administration work no one else wants and then you focus for the next five years on getting as far from the media as you can. This of course is all motivated by the fact that “strategic” client counsel is the end-game for any self-respecting PR pro.

I know this process very well because I happily participated in it throughout the early 1990’s.

Now I fully realize that media relations is a small part of the PR discipline and whilst the public perception of PR is that of Press Relations, our profession encompasses a far wider range of tasks and areas of expertise.

However, with hindsight, it seems to me that this desire to move away from the media is very very wrong.

Good media relations is an under-appreciated asset.  The accepted practice of foisting media relations on the juniors is one of the main reasons journalists get so hacked off with PR people who don’t know the first thing about media relations – or the story they are pitching.

Media Relations also provides a unique insight into what’s happening in any given market.  A series of successful media meetings can deliver more market intelligence than a month of desk research.

I am happy to see, that among the blogging PR populace anyway, there is a recognized need for effective media relations as part of our more “strategic” services.

Effective media relations technique is difficult to master and it’s a shame when its discarded in the name of career advancement.

I hated doing all the administrative tasks when I started out, but at the risk of sounding like a grandad, it has stood to me.

That was a very long introduction into a story from ESPN which describes the role of Junior Publicist for a sports team one of the worst jobs in sport. If any of you are working in that role, we all know your pain! [Thanks to Darren for the link]

PR Opinions is back online..

Hello again.

Things have been a little quiet here for the past week.  But I’ve a great range of excuses, first of all I was working in California, which somewhat restricted my ability to post, but not as much as when my laptop, in a blatant plea for help, decided to commit hari-kiri and take my entire hard drive to the afterworld.

After much gnashing of teeth, tinkering with setups and desperately searching for passwords, settings etc, PR Opinions is now finally back online.

From meeting with a whole range of PR people and media in California it’s apparent that things are definetely on the up.  No one wants to come outright and say things are growing again but everyone is reporting brisk business, the freelancers are busier and reporters are more stressed than ever.

I also had the opportunity to meet up with Phil Gomes while I was there and we had a great evening out with much discussion around the technology business, the PR business and the state of the market in general.

PR Opinions will be back at full steam in the morning.

Update: Nothing is ever easy is it? 🙂 Thanks to everyone who has let me know about the image problems on the home page.  After a lot of tinkering, I think they are now fixed!

Annual Marketing Survey Finds PR slipping down the priorities..

OK so the headline is a little tabloidesque.  The Patrick Marketing Group have released their annual survey of over 100 Marketing executives.

Predicatably in a down market, ROI is the key driver of Marketing investment – show us a (sales) return and we’ll invest.

Of most interest to us PR folks is what areas are getting budget increases next year.  Top of the list are Seminars and Events (50%), Electronic Advertising (48%) and Direct mail (42%).  PR comes in fifth with 35%. Trade Shows and Print Advertising bring up the rear with 26% and 20% respectively.

Last year’s survey had PR as the number one area for growth in Marketing spend, maybe these results show Marketers have already upped their investment sufficiently….mmmm. 

On the role of Online Marketing, 42% of respondents said that online marketing was critical, 24% are now getting serious about online marketing, a whopping 20% think online marketing isn’t relevant and 14% accounted for by “Other”.

Some praise for PR

I’ve been reading former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner Jr.’s book, “Who Say Elephants Can’t Dance?” which details his turnaround of Big Blue from the low to it’s present rude health.

Interestingly Gerstner’s first hire was David Kalis his communications executive from his previous two roles.

“He was, in my opinion the best Public Relations Executive in America.  He was also the first true PR professional in IBM’s history to hold the top communication job.  For decades the position had been a rotation slot for sales executives being groomed for other top jobs.”

High praise indeed and nice to see a CEO understanding the importance of PR – even if he might be exaggerating a little!

PR Miscellaneous

Wow, news is slow in the PR world, there’s very little of note to be found, luckily the PR blog crew are keeping things ticking over.  Let me know if you’ve any interesting news.

 Phil at the G2B Group points to a piece from this month’s Inc Magazine on PR’s legal privilege in view of this ruling from June this year.

 Kevin Dugan is giving up on Blogger’s BlogSpot service (which has been very spotty recently) and moving to a hosting provider for his blog, don’t forget to subscribe to his new three letter acronym thingy that I can’t mention for a while.

 Colin at CanuckFlack points to some really interesting research from the Miller Brewing Company which looked at the actual sales results from PR:

“Mr. Choudhary said the PR data was the missing link that has held back PR from becoming a strategic part of the brand planning process, but that is beginning to change. And the results are startling. Based on the analysis, Miller has learned that its PR campaigns generate 1.2 percent of base product sales, or 4 percent of incremental product sales (the amount of sales created specifically from marketing efforts such as advertising, PR or promotion).”

 Trevor Cook has some amusing writing tips over at SoapBox. Among my favorites is:

“Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.”


Blog Relations: If you pitch them, they will listen…

A new research study of over 2,800 blog owners carried out by Blog Search Engine, found that over 90% of them had never been approached by a PR person.

While 26% of respondents said they would refuse to blog about any company that approached them, the balance (73.9%) of bloggers were open to PR pitches with the proviso that the blogger would hold the final decision based on their perception of the company in question. Compare this to the fact that only 29% of bloggers were willing to consider advertising.

I think those are some interesting (non-scientific) statistics that highlights how little our profession has thought about pitching a relevant blog. It seems that if you are thinking about it, the channel is open and in many cases waiting…

What drives the blog agenda?

Another interesting finding surrounds how bloggers find content for their daily rant. Top of the list are sites that bloggers check regularly (68.5%), other blogs (58.9%), friends (54.3%), News sites (47.7%) and Google News – a stonking 33.8% – which underlines why Google is so darned important! (As a sidenote… a certain three letter acronym, which I won’t mention, accounts for just over 17%)

MediaPost has covered the study (free registration required) with the nice tabloid headline: Blogs Fail To Crack Flaks, PR Pros Remains Indifferent To Web Log Spin.” – Indeed.

PR Opinions has already been pitched quite a few times (and in all cases very well) and is of course more than willing to accept more pitches 🙂

Thanks to Joanne and Jeremy for the links to the research and MediaPost article. As a sidenote, Jeremy has an interesting link to a new service where you can be informed via your AIM when a blog is updated. I’m happy to add it, if anyone is deperate enough for some PR content to want it….

How are your search engine skills?

The importance of Search Engines in driving traffic (and awareness) has never been greater, but it’s an area that many PR people ignore or simply outsource.

The fact is that Search Engines for many businesses (online and traditional) represent a major communication channel. How much do you know about Search Engines? Do you know the difference between a Search Engine and a Directory?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), is the collective term for activities designed to improve your organizations search ranking, but it means more than the right HTML tags and web page description.  

Are you au fait with Google’s AdWords and Overture, which are a major promotional tool for effective Search Engine marketing?

The BBC has a good story today on how Google’s efforts to thwart Search Engine fixers has adversely affected the rankings of legitimate businesses and has had a measurable affect on their sales. Can you afford not to understand how these “Windows on the Web” work?

I don’t think so.

Further reading: SEO PR, Search Engine Watch, SEO Chat, Google Dance, Google’s advice on SEO, SEO Today