Archives for posts with tag: PR

When I blogged on July 18 about questions regarding the future of the printed newspaper, I hoped that my daily paper would have a print edition around long enough to carry my obituary. Well, it looks like I better die on the right day of the week.

The Syracuse Post Standard, an Advance Publications newspaper, announced yesterday that it would limit home delivery of the printed paper to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. While it will continue a slimmed down print version the other days of the week, Advance said that edition will be reviewed before the end of 2013. The future for those days of the week looks bleak.

Advance’s decision regarding the Post Standard and a sister publication in Pennsylvania, which announced a similar plan on the same day, is not a surprise. Advance implemented similar models in Louisiana, Alabama and Michigan. As Lorraine Branham, dean of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, put it in the Post’s coverage of its own news: “This is going to accelerate. They’re ahead of the game, and in some ways it’s really smart on their part.”

For public relations professionals who see the Post Standard as a vehicle for publicity, you can be sure that placements in the print edition will be particularly prized – especially in the Sunday edition, which is bound to maintain the greatest readership.  I believe the Opinion page on these dates will wield even greater authority and influence.

Advance Newspapers’ approach is another indicator, though, of what I called the Post-Publicity Era in my July 26 post. Media relations will continue to be important, but it will no longer be the defining capability of the effective public relations professional.  Communicators need to build the four corners of effective digitally powered public relations:

Community – Cultivate a network of connections with the broadest collection of people and institutions that represent your stakeholders. Databases and social media are critical digital tools.

Content – Build a system to generate news and information yourself in all formats – text, pictures, video and graphics. Your content must be honest and meaningful — not self-promotional fluff.

Channels – Maintain multiple distribution vehicles so you can self-publish and self-broadcast to your community. Use your channels first to talk to your community.

Metrics – Develop measurement standards and tools that align with your objectives and goals. Clips represent only one dimension of digitally powered PR.

Whenever any landscape changes, new growth emerges. No one can predict what’s in the future for the printed newspaper, but I am hopeful that Advance’s print-digital hybrid is a model that works. Print has an important role, even if it only gets delivered three days a week. And society needs the robust news gathering organizations that newspapers represent.

Greg Loh is the managing partner of public relations and public affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s leading independent marketing communications agencies. Views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the opinions of EMA.

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PRWeek’s August issue tells the story of the PR agency industry’s near shutout at the 2012 Cannes Lions. Only two PR agencies won PR Lions. The rest of the honors went to advertising agencies.

There’s been some hand wringing about what it means for the future of agency public relations. I think it is simply more evidence of how the emergence of digital is blurring the lines between public relations and the rest of marketing. PR powered by digital makes it easier for organizations to capture attention, create engagement and influence opinions.

Another important factor in the outcome at the awards is the fact that Cannes is about “creativity.” In that regard, there is no doubt that advertising agencies have an inherent advantage. PR agencies are best at creating healthy relationships between institutions and their publics; advertising agencies win the day in creative ideas.

Which is why I feel so lucky to have spent last 25 years practicing public relations in an integrated agency. Eric Mower established a public relations division at the agency almost four decades ago. At Eric Mower + Associates, public relations people work side by side with the best creative talents in the industry. Because our agency’s roots have grown in integrated soil, we’ve also learned that big ideas can come from anywhere. Creativity is an intersection.

Earlier this year, EMA put this experience in writing when we introduced the Declaration of Inter-Dependence, a  500-word manifesto signed by all of EMA’s creative directors. Under the banner of, “You’re creative, damn it,” the Declaration invited all EMAers to join the creative process:

“Our industry is changing. Our lives are changing.

We’re influenced less and less by what we see and hear…and more and more by what we feel and experience. This isn’t news to anyone. This isn’t a revelation. It’s just the new reality.

Unfortunately, the old reality is this: Much of our industry is still clinging to a creative model that was born before the FIRST screen was created, let alone the second or third.

In this outdated model, copywriters and art directors are charged with coming up with the Big Ideas, and everyone else is charged with sharing them with the world.

Well, it’s time to shake things up. It’s time to take EMA’s core value of collaboration to the next level — beyond simply playing nicely together and working as a team.”

Creative development efforts at EMA are more open than they’ve ever been before. Teams solve problems together and generate more compelling and impactful solutions.

I have no doubt that the Declaration of Inter-Dependence at EMA will mean better results for our clients. And with shared ownership of creativity, maybe a Cannes PR Lion is in our future.

Why not? We’re creative, damn it.

Greg Loh is the managing partner of public relations and public affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s leading independent marketing communications agencies. Views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the opinions of EMA.

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The Technology page in the New York Times lamented Saturday that tech companies aren’t using phones for user support. According to reporter Amy O’Leary in Tech Companies Leave Phones Behind, internet companies like Quora, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn either don’t offer numbers for phone support or end up only playing a recording that drives callers back to their online customer support system.   The story suggests there is something wrong with this model or that it signals a fundamental culture shift in a digital world.

Not so.

Tech companies don’t leave phones behind. They’re an essential part of doing business, even in today’s online world. Having successfully reached Google and LinkedIn representives by telephone, I can assure you tech companies have phones for dealing with paying customers, in my case, an agency that wants to buy advertising. But internet and social media companies that offer a free service to users simply don’t have an obligation or revenue stream to support a costly telephone customer service system. A relatively small number of these companies have successful revenue streams, but virtually all would be driven under by labor intensive phone interactions with users trying to collect lost passwords or account for people who were mean to them on line.

You could argue that other “free” services offer users the ability to talk by phone. I could call my local television station and eventually find someone who would hear my complaint about commercials playing too loud or the sports action I missed due to a technical problem. But I wouldn’t find that after 5 p.m. or on weekends. Why? Because the phones at a TV station are there to serve advertisers not viewers. From my days in radio broadcasting, I can tell you that calls from the public with gripes about programming were an unfortunate side affect of needing phones to make and receive sales calls.

Online search services and social media sites are free to users. By maintaining that status, they already defy the conventional wisdom of, “You get what you pay for.” They deliver information, entertainment, communication and even commerce for free. There is no business rationale to set up call centers for users who pay nothing for their service.

The real travesty of this story will be when some opportunistic elected leader somewhere decides to grandstand by proposing a law that requires online companies to provide customer service support. When that happens, I hope legions of social media users get on their smartphones to call that lawmaker’s office and say, “No way.” Only I bet they won’t find more than an answering machine for most hours of the day.

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Move over Lance Armstrong. Public relations may be headed for a doping scandal of its own. That’s the kind of advantage the injection of digital communications is giving public relations.

Welcome to the first post in my new blog, Digitally Powered PR. I’ll be sharing my observations and experiences about the incredible transformation of the public relations professional driven by the emergence of communications technologies Ivy Lee could never have imagined. The tablet I’m writing this post on is an amazing distribution point for news and information. Social media unlocks the ability to interact with target publics that would have required days and weeks of effort only a few years ago. Even the concept of blogging — being able to self publish your opinions and share them instantly around the world — was unthinkable.

In Digitally Powered PR, I’ll be chronicling examples of cutting edge practices that leverage digital communications. I’ll offer tips and advice based on my experiences practicing public relations in a digitally integrated marketing communications agency. I’ll share my opinions on how digital technology is changing relationships between organizations and their publics.  I’ll also be pointing out how the foundation of this noble profession — listening that allows effective two-way communications — is flourishing or being forgotten during this digital revolution.

It’s an amazing time to be working in public relations. When you compare the business we’re in today to the one I entered 25 years ago, we’ve got so much more power and potential, it feels like we’re cheating.

 

Greg Loh is the managing partner of public relations and public affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s leading independent marketing communications agencies. Views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the opinions of EMA.

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