The days when writing a press release and making sure it is published in as many newspapers as possible are long over. The days when you call your journalist friend and ask them not to publish a bad story about you- yup those days are also over! Finally, the days when we could easily control what the general public thought about us- those days are history my friends!
So what does this mean for all of us working in Public Relations?
The answer is simple- we can finally start doing what we were supposed to do all this time- communicate facts, instead of spinning reality. More importantly, as PR professionals we are finally doing what we are being paid for – to engage with our audience on a daily basis instead of talking to them, only at our, twice a year, perfectly orchestrated PR event.
So, what does it really mean to work in PR in 2017!
- It is a 24/7 job. If you are 8-4 type of a person, maybe you should consider another profession. Ask anyone that works in PR- it is unwritten rule that most crises happen after work, on public holidays or during weekends, which means that you need to stay put all the time. A missed call on your phone equals a missed opportunity to preserve your or your company’s reputation.
- Stop writing long and boring press releases! No one cares about our press releases. Does this mean that we should stop writing them? Of course not. It means that we need to put the entire story- everything that we have tirelessly worked for, for months, in one simple paragraph. Why? Because we only have 6 seconds to capture the imagination of our audience. A simple advice – read your press release carefully before you send it to the media or publish it on social media. If the main point of the release is not in the first 6 seconds, rewrite it!
- It is all about visual communications. Going back to my point about the press release – if you want your message to reach as many people as possible – make sure you have a good graphic designer in your team. We live in an era of visual communications and most of the time a great image design with a simple message can do so much more than that press release that it took you hours to write, rewrite, edit and get it approved.
- It is all about real-time! Few years ago, we used to have months to prepare for a campaign or a launch of a new product. Campaigns are still very much effective but the truth is that in today’s world we only have seconds to capture that perfect PR moment. This means that our teams need to follow every single thing that is happening around us and when the moment is right, use that opportunity to have a real conversation with our audience about something they really care about, not something that we artificially impose on them.
- Crises can happen at any given moment! Social media is great for engaging with our audience but at the same time it vastly increased the possibilities for crises. A single photo, bad customer service or a misinterpreted status can destroy years of hard work. Please make sure that you monitor conversations about your brand. Your job is not done when you publish or post news about your brand. Nope, that’s actually when real work starts! Read what your customers are saying, help them if they need help – they are on your communications channels for a reason. And when crisis hit, don’t wait too long to respond. Be the first one to address the crisis and most importantly, apologize if you have made a mistake. Take control of the situation and be honest. Everyone can make a mistake and your audience will forgive you if you are being honest. If you try spinning the news, say goodbye to your reputation.
- You are your CEO’s CEO! Don’t beg for a seat on the executive table- just go and sit on that table because you belong there more than anyone else. Why? Because when crises knock on your CEO’s door, it is you that will have to them let them in and explain what happened.
To conclude, PR is no longer just about organizing fancy events, media photo calls and perfectly organized press conferences. To work in PR in 2017 means to be fully prepared for anything but at the same time make sure that you are in control of everything.