Should PR Own Social Media?

If you ask 10 different people within an organization, you’re likely to get 10 different answers to the question “Who should own social media in your organization?” I think that’s the wrong question to ask. A better approach might be to look at each area of your organization to determine how social media can open lines of communication, improve efficiencies, reduce costs or help to generate more revenue.

That said, PR leads digital communications at 51% of organizations, while Marketing leads 40.5% of the time, according to the 2009 Digital Readiness Report. The report was produced by iPressroom, Korn/Ferry International and PRSA. [Read more…]

Managing Client Expectations In PR

Now more than ever, it’s critical that your clients understand what PR is and isn’t. Many of the negative perceptions surrounding PR can be traced back to a lack of understanding of what PR is and isn’t. Helping clients understand the PR process and what they can expect for realistic results can dramatically improve their satisfaction with your services.

Here are some tips that have helped me set client expectations accordingly in the past:

  • What outlets are important to them? – it’s important that you understand your clients expectations before you start working with them. Do they expect to be featured in BusinessWeek or invited to be a guest on Oprah? Do they have a story that is strong enough for either of those outlets? If not, tell them upfront. Help them understand what makes a good story for these outlets.
  • The Best Outlets for Your Goals – develop a PR strategy for your client that clearly outlines the best outlets to reach their target audiences to generate the best results for the campaign. Help them understand the reasoning behind the outlets you’ve selected, and why it doesn’t make sense to pursue opportunities in outlets that will have no interest in covering them. A product review in a vertical trade can often deliver more sales than a brief mention in a business magazine – clients may not understand this like you do, so you have to educate them.
  • There is Only So Much Real Estate to Work With – while online opportunities increase the number of options for placing stories, there is still incredible competition in all areas to be featured in a story. At a typical trade publication, only three out of 15 or more interview sources may make it into the final article. Regardless of how effective you are at lining up interviews for your client, there is a small chance that the information you provide will be relevant or useful for the story the journalist is working on. Clients need to understand that it’s a long-term process of building relationships with the media, one that will eventually pay off if you stick with it and prove yourself as an expert source.

[Read more…]

Status Reports and the Value of PR Activity

I’ve worked on both the agency and client side in various PR functions. One thing I grew to hate was creating (or reviewing) status reports. For those of you not familiar with status reports and weekly updates that the majority of PR agencies create, they go something like this:

  • 3-5 bullet points (at most) of something that was actually achieved in the week (placements appeared, secured placements, interviews conducted, etc.)
  • 30-40 bullet points of ongoing work – a long list of attempted contact (called and left message, journalist wasn’t available, suggested we call back next year, etc.)

Now I realize some agencies do a better job at this than others, but really, where’s the value in all this “potential results” discussion? If you were to just focus on the actual results accomplished, the reports and calls would be much shorter.

Status reports and weekly updates are useful vehicles to communicate activity to clients. But often, they mask what’s actually going on – there is way more effort exerted than results generated. Of course, my point of view is from that of a small agency working with small clients. Typically tech startups that have a harder time generating publicity than a “sexy” client with a bigger budget. For example, I’m sure the status reports and weekly updates for an account like Facebook or Twitter are fascinating. But what about the companies you’ve never heard of? They’re thin with output, though their budgets may be in the $5K-$10K per month range.

Are 5-10 placements per month worth that investment? It depends on where those placements appear and what the goals and objectives of your campaign are. Of the 100 or so accounts I’ve been a part of, more often than not the ROI just doesn’t add up. [Read more…]