PR needs to Focus on Conversations

PR needs to Focus on ConversationsIt’s no secret that the number of publications has declined over the last few years. The impact of that can be felt in B2C as well as B2B Marketing. There are fewer numbers of print publications remaining and every company’s marketing department wants to garner more traditional press. But it’s a zero sum game and we are all fighting over the same shrinking slice of pie!

Worse yet, upper management hasn’t backed off the idea of “getting ink” in favor of new forms of digital ink. I still hear marketers say – “my CEO just doesn’t care about blogs – they only want to be in the NY Times or Wall Street Journal”.

This is really doing the PR industry a disservice. Let me explain …

With the number of traditional publications declining it brings the traditional walls that have been the master of the Public Relations industry down with it. PR becomes this amorphous blob that can move into many adjacent markets. Obviously PR firms could add “digital media” as a compliment to “traditional media” but upper management doesn’t care about digital media.

What they need to sell to upper management is not the notion of targeting certain blogs (I know I get tons of emails every day asking to cover a certain story – which by the way is the wrong approach) – it’s the notion of being part of conversations!

Think about this – Years from now the only lasting memory of your firm won’t be the print impressions it garnered – it will be the conversations your firm was involved in and had the greater share of voice of! PR should be trying to help us OWN as much digital media land as we can – that specifically relate to the conversations that are important for your company to be a part of. We go from targeting Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 publications to targeting Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 conversations!

For Example – Avaya should be part of any Business Communications conversations on the web because that is what we do. We should own that conversation from a share of voice perspective and report to the CEO what’s our “Market Share” in that conversation much like we do with regular market share data based on revenue. By extension we also want emerging conversations on Social Media’s impact on Business Communications (perhaps that is a Tier 2 conversation) or even further out, the impact of Video on Business Communications (perhaps a Tier 3 conversation).

PR Agencies need to start driving this agenda for their client firms and increasing their market share in specific conversations where ever they happen – rather than continuing to fight for a few coveted spots on page 3 of the Washington Post!

7 comments to PR needs to Focus on Conversations

  • Monica Z

    The other thing that PR agencies continue to do wrong in my view, is to try to control the PR program, try to channel everything through them, have only very senior people as bloggers and spokespeople as part of a very limited one-sided conversation (or monolog actually) and they systematically limit participation to include many other internal valuable voices that can leverage a company’s presence, message and impact in the marketplace. This is a way relates to one of your previous blogs about “fire your social media director”. PR agencies still have a silo mentality, I’m afraid. My 2 cents…

  • @Monica – great point – you have to get the right people into those conversations I reference – using the same “spokesperson” mentality wont cut it! Bravo!

  • Nicely done! While it’s nice to have “anchor placements” in marquee print publications, the digital frontier offers the opportunity to be continuous and provides flexibility. This in turn gives companies a chance to develop a personality, share a holistic journey and add a dimension that simply doesn’t exist in print alone.
    When meeting with their executives, marketers and PR firms should re-frame not only the vision combined media can achieve but clearly articulate the business objectives this combination can deliver.

  • @Sean – great point – thanks for commenting!!

  • Paul,
    Love your point about the true value of SOV for PR. Agree that if companies can move from just measuring total number of inclusion in articles to true total number of conversations they are leading that would have signficantly more impact, more relevance and meaning.
    Would be interesting to have a discussion on deconstructing traditional metrics and what true value/relevance means with today’s digital media.

  • @Caroline – Agreed and I gotta think that some of the listening engines are starting to construct those type of metrics

  • […] is why PR needs to move from fixating on getting ink in Publications to getting digital ink in Conversations. Think about the life span of paper based earned media – not long after its printed does it sit […]

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