What’s Wrong With Your PR?

Do you know the answer to this before you start researching a new PR firm to hire? Have you taken a good look at your current program and working relationship and truly understand what needs to improve? Do you have a plan for integrating PR with other marketing elements?

In meetings with prospects I’ve found that many don’t. They don’t know what’s wrong with their PR, only that they “need something more.” They don’t have a plan for integrating PR with other forms of marketing – in fact, many times they’ve never even thought about the connection. But all marketing should be integrated and PR should support and work to promote every other element in your marketing arsenal.

If you head into a working relationship without a firm idea of what you want improved, it’s difficult to expect your PR firm to deliver results that will meet your – or the Board’s – expectations. Many times the C-suite has a very narrow view of what PR means to them – usually top of mind is media relations, although these days word-of-mouth is also becoming a unit of measurement for them, thanks to social media.

Every agency has been in a new business meeting where the prospect has brought out a list of what the last agency didn’t do. They don’t necessarily correlate this to what they thought the agency should have done – and I’ve found that rarely, if ever, do they have a clear and definitive overview on where the agency fell short in regards to specific metrics or promised goals.

Before you change agencies or look for a new firm for the first time, ask yourself:

- How do I define PR?

- What specifically has been missing that’s driving us to hire a PR firm?

- How do I expect PR to integrate into my overall marketing plan? What about sales? Customer service? Other areas of our business?

- What specific programs do I want in my PR campaign?

- How will I measure the success of those programs; of the campaign overall?

- How much do I expect the PR firm to manage and do my resources align with this expectation – honestly?

- What benchmark metrics do I have to give the PR firm to begin – so they can plan and measure accordingly?

- What characteristics do I want in my PR team? What do I like about the people I work with now?

- What attributes do I want in a PR firm? Big name? All senior team? Boutique or conglomerate? What’s my experience been in the past with each and what were the pros and cons?

- What have my trusted colleagues experienced – good and bad – in working with a PR firm and how can I avoid those same mistakes?

- What role do I want to play in managing the PR firm? Side-by-side colleague and teammate? Hands off manager?

- What matters most to me? What matters most to my boss(es)? Are we on the same page with how we’ll define success in working with a PR firm?

Many times this last point is one of the biggest snags in a successful agency/client relationship. Too many times the day-to-day executive tasked with managing the PR firm does not clearly understand how the CMO, VP of Marketing or other C-level executives will define success. And when they’re not on the same page, it’s pretty impossible for the PR firm to be successful. And that brings me to one final point – who’s in charge of your PR internally? Do you respect them? Do you trust them? Did you hire the right person for the job? Start there – because if you haven’t, you’re not only wasting money on their salary, but you’ll be throwing dollars out the window for a PR firm to fail, too.

So, what’s wrong with your PR? And how do you plan to fix it – or how have you in the past? Please share your experiences in the comments so our readers can benefit from your wisdom.

Facebook and “Future Community”

Like many of you, we’ve been keeping an eye on the Facebook privacy issue. However, unless it’s central to your job (aka tech pundits), most people are way too busy to keep up with the changing features and policies from week to week, or all the particulars of the last brouhaha. Still, if you took the time to look closely enough to form an opinion, you may have found yourself being pulled in one direction or another – meaning the privacy camp or the open social graph camp.

When Facebook became available en masse, most of us made immediate connections to other early adopters and soon prodded colleagues, friends and family to join. For many, the next wave was locating people from our past – forging lost bonds with old flames, childhood friends, high school classmates and the like. Facebook soon became a part of our present and our past, with a constant stream of personal updates and suggestions to connect with new and/or old friends. For some, Facebook offered immersion in virtual worlds and, in essence, membership in new — and sometimes addicting — communities, created by social games such as Farmville and Mafia Wars.

Over time, our attachment to Facebook continued to become exceedingly more and more personal. Lest we forget, it’s a business. And so it goes – with more personal details come more opportunities for marketing and selling to your every interest. Being in a constant state of evolution to develop revenue streams and achieve profitability is as much a part of Facebook’s soul as the free services they provide to both you and me.

As we look more closely at the privacy issues and the idea of “future community” experiences, it’s easy to see that having a say when it comes to who you are connected to within the Facebook social graph is vital. While some users may have been gung-ho to share “Activities, Interests, Music, Movies, Books, Television” with “Friends” past and present; they don’t want to be connected to everyone else on Facebook who lists “Bossanova” and “Sublime” in the Music field of their Profile. The “disconnect” in this instance was between intention and execution. Similarly, most users intended to share favorite musical genres and artists, along with Interests like running, wine and yoga, with their present and past communities. Then, Facebook decided – without user consent – to connect us to new “future communities” of others on Facebook who listed the same information.

Thankfully, Facebook recently heeded the outcries of some of the public and rolled out new privacy controls (further explained here). But, it certainly sparks some thought… What community experiences do you seek in general? How are such experiences the same or different via Facebook?

A curious and social group, we thrive on interacting with new people, otherwise known as “future community.” So whether it’s the staff and patrons at local coffee shops, other parents and children at the playground, the checkers and baggers at our local markets, or strangers at the airport — these polite chats and sometimes surprising and inspired conversations comprise connections with others that nurture humanity and individual creativity and kindness. So back to the question: How are such experiences the same or different via Facebook?

Just like the offline examples above, certainly possibilities to make meaningful connections as part of a “future community” via Facebook do exist. Facebook sees these potential benefits whether it be connections with advertisers or other individuals. For now, I can accept the advertisements that key off some of my personal data (it’s a business after all), but I can also be at ease that who I count as part of my “future community” is up to me.

How does Facebook power community for you?

Persuasive Picks for the week of 05/31/10

Will people stop buying Coca Cola? Maybe not, but Eric Bovim writes in PRWeek that Food and Beverage Companies Face a PR Challenge – facing a plethora of new programs focused on healthier food options. From First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move Campaign,” to a powerful new coalition of big brands and the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, big food companies need to convince the press to focus on the positive aspects of what they provide… a job easier said than done.

John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing wrote a provocative article for Ragan on “Why Social Media Doesn’t Matter Anymore.” He says too many people are focused on adopting or keeping up with the latest and greatest social media tools, when they should rather be focused on customer engagement. A smart piece that takes you through the hype to the heart of the matter when it comes to social media for business and marketing.

Speaking of John, he’s a great marketer who recently wrote a book called The Referral Engine – and it’s featured on Inc. Magazine’s new Business Book Bestseller List. If you’re looking for some great summer reading, check it out.

I’m a fan of Foursquare and am happy to see its growth, as more and  more marketers help brands use it in their campaigns. One of the latest collaborations is a partnership with Cynthia Rowley to launch Cynthia Rowley Bridesmaids at a wedding-centric event. One of PerkettPR’s partner firms, Fashionably Digital, was commissioned to develop and implement the campaign. Women’s Wear Daily Writes in this week’s Social Studies, this is “the first time a manufacturer, a designer and a retailer collaborated on this kind of initiative.”

I’m also in love with my iPad but I’m not quite as creative as other users – which I learned when glamour tech gal Shira Lazar recently pointed me to a CBS piece she wrote on “5 Totally Insane Ways to Use Your iPad.” I don’t plan to perform surgery with mine anytime soon, although I did enjoy learning that the iPad is so cool, it can indeed “Shred.”