By Bryan Haviland | Posted: August 27, 2015
Boards of directors, top-level executives and brand managers, take heed: If you don’t yet have a PR counselor in a position of power within your organization, you’re playing Russian roulette with your brand’s reputation.
PR can no longer be relegated to traditional media relations. It has never been just that. Now more than ever before, organizations are realizing that successful consumer experience depends on deploying PR to create, manage and refresh their ever-present online brands.
Here are three reasons why:
- More than any other discipline, PR knows how to “content” effectively.
As Shift Communications’ Christopher Penn recently noted, “Content marketing is the darling … and continues to be the dominant form of marketing.” While few would argue this, it really means marketing has taken a giant leap toward defining itself as a subset of public relations. Let’s take a look at Joe Pulizzi’s own definition of “content marketing.”
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
The PR world should thank Joe, because in a few short years he has done what our profession has struggled for decades to do: Define a sizable chunk of what PR is about. Substitute the words “strategic marketing” with “public relations” in Joe’s definition and you’ve more accurately defined authentic content marketing.
Nobody does content better than a PR professional. PR has always been about testing the audience waters (researching, listening) before expertly crafting and packaging stories designed to inform, persuade and solicit reaction. It’s two-way. It’s conversational. It’s meeting audiences where they are. Most of all, it’s overdue recognition that no one likes to be “sold,” that consumers can see through thinly veiled sales pitches, and that real value is created when brands form genuine, authentic relationships with all the audiences vital to their success. That’s because, unlike marketing and advertising, PR has always been sensitive to the fact that true communication takes place only when parties have a genuine interest in each other.
So, when executed properly, content marketing puts the PR profession in its rightful place at the top of the brand management food chain.
[RELATED: Become your own news outlet to boost brand reputation.]
- PR knows best how to navigate the crowded, evolving world of online influence.
Traditional media relations in the “earned” space, the place where most organizations still conveniently pigeonhole public relations, is no longer enough to effectively manage your brand. Consumers are now responsible for the content they expose themselves to, both relevant and irrelevant, more than ever before in mankind’s history. It’s now been five years since Google’s Eric Schmidt observed, “Every two days we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003.” Jeff Bullas points out there are now more than three billion active Internet users. Those are stunning facts about how easy it has become to generate content today.
But what about content quality? Quality is defined by the eye of the ever-powerful consumer, one that now can pick and choose from a fragmented media world which information sources to follow and set as personal feeds, and in which conversations to participate. Again, enter the importance of the PR discipline.
Since the Internet doesn’t sleep, brands must now continually maintain updated, relevant information value through their owned platforms, and engage as equal, interested participants in shared ones.
With decades of experience under its belt in traditional media, the PR profession is best equipped to help brands navigate the evolving digital world of consumer influence. The channels are different, yet the rules of effective engagement are the same: seeking to understand other viewpoints, providing relevant observations on conversational topics, and building trust through authentic participation in those conversations, all to earn a reputation of genuine value. Our firm offers social media guidance to make this a reality.
Only through a PR approach, one that understands effective communication is a two-way street, can brands elevate their standing as a trusted source of information with the consumers’ best experience at heart.
- No other discipline simultaneously promotes and protects brands and reputations.
PR is an authentic, relationship-based discipline. It’s why my favorite definition of PR—doing the right thing, then making sure the right people know about it at the right time—makes sense. Warren Buffett’s famous quote about reputation, “20 years to build, 5 minutes to ruin,” should be updated from 5 minutes to 5 seconds in the age of Twitter and social platforms. With more than 500 million Tweets per day, not a nanosecond passes without a public comment on a subject, many of which influence brand perceptions.
Is your organization usingPR effectively? The PR discipline is the organization’s conscience and compass to ensure it is doing the right things, and when it is not, making the immediate, transparent course corrections to protect the brand’s character for the long haul.
PR can no longer be pigeonholed as the traditional media relations department. It’s the discipline that knows best how to content, how to navigate a new media world, and how to protect the most precious asset any organization has – its reputation. Yes, when it comes to brand management, PR is everything.
Bryan Haviland is president at FrazierHeiby Public Relations. A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn.