When I co-founded Philosophy Communication, my dad gave me a short but extremely valuable piece of business advice that I find myself recalling a few times each month. I thought the advice was worthy of a blog post, since I often share it with so many peers and business owners. His wisdom is terrific for businesses searching for the “right” thing to do. The advice: “Whatever you do in business, make sure you can discuss it at the dinner table with the people involved.” Sounds simple, but not always as easy as it sounds.
Or rather, miscommunication is the root of so much strife in the world, from interpersonal relationships to global politics. With technology sprinting ahead faster than we can thoroughly grasp it, opportunities for miscommunication have multiplied.
For those of you who dare ask this question to someone who works in public relations or marketing, the answer is, “everyone!”
Take the famous golden arches – think there is a single American alive who doesn’t immediately associate this symbol with McDonald’s tasty Big Macs and French fries?
Try this tagline: “Just Do It.” Nike, anyone? How about this one: “Don’t leave home without it.” Your American Express card, that is.
According to the American Marketing Association, a brand is a name, term, design, symbol or other feature that distinguishes products or services from competitive offerings. A brand defines your company and includes components like your company name, logo and tagline.
If there is one thing that I know for sure, it is that I absolutely wish to deliver the correct information to reporters on the first try. Having worked on both the newsroom and media relations side, I empathize with the inundation of phone calls, e-mail and mail that reporters receive. However, I have always wondered one thing. Why don’t reporters create a Web page outlining specifically how they like to receive information and when? Yes, it is our job to read past articles and be most familiar with the publication. Though, it isn’t always that simple nor is it that clear. I wonder if that could be a business endeavor – creating reporter Web pages clearly outlining all of the specifics for detail-orientated public relations professionals? A fee that I am certain public relations professionals would more than gladly pay. Hmmmm…I wonder?
Information overload has never been more real. Today we can get information about any topic that interests us, from Britney’s latest exploits to the political climate in Turkey, with just a click of the mouse. Between the Internet with its myriad news and information sources; hundreds of television channels, many that cover only one topic; and the usual suspects of newspapers, magazines and the nightly news, there’s little we can’t uncover. Unfortunately, this explosion in media options has brought confusion about legitimacy and agenda of those reporting news.
Communication is all in the context, right? I could say, “You are hopelessly romantic,” but if your cell phone cut out and you only heard “you are hopeless,” you’d probably never speak to me again. And here I am thinking I’m paying you a compliment.
Media relations always seemed like a good fit for me, and finally, one day I was ready to give it a try. In the beginning, I was a bit naïve, thinking that everybody would give me the time of day, listen to my pitch, and I would go on placing articles, case studies and product mentions right and left. After getting my feet wet for a few weeks, I realized that this may not be the case. But what I also realized throughout what seemed like a million pitching phone calls and e-mails was the importance of keeping a good attitude, or how I like to say, “keeping the altitude of my good attitude high and the altitude of my bad attitude, low.”
It seems like common sense, but some of us public relations professionals occasionally lose sight of exactly what it is we are pitching to the media. We can get wrapped up in the client’s vision- Yes, indeed, YOURS IS the GREATEST, MOST INNOVATIVE hands free fishing pole on the market- and allow our focus to deviate. But our job is to know our clients inside and out, take a step back, put on our “objective” glasses, and creatively discern what their story is.
It’s not always that easy, but isn’t that why they are paying us the medium-to-big-bucks vs. doing it themselves?
Art directors, executive assistants, lawyers, CEOs, and yes, even fellow marketers, express with great confidence that they are great writers. To me, proclaiming that you are a great writer is no different from saying that you can sing – and not Pop Princess Britney Spears smoke-and-mirrors kind of singing. I mean real singing, where you can close your eyes, and the emotion, sound and tone of the voice truly moves the listener, transporting them to a whole new place
Earlier in my career I had a colleague ask me for “a PR.” She came into my office, told me about a new service her department was launching, and said, “I’m going to need a PR on that.” Not understanding what she really meant, I said, “no problem” and began developing my strategy. After all, I’d spent my entire career thus far in PR. I even deliberately earned a degree in PR in college.
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