Dear PR Santa,
I've been very good this year. I've worked lots of hours, I've gained lots of coverage for clients, I've graduated from Account Executive to Account Manager (whippee!) and I've even kept my desk tidy (ish...)
So, I thought that you might like to know what I'd like for PR Christmas?
Firstly, I would like someone to develop a cheap, but effective tool that allows measurement and evaluation of PR programmes. I would also like this tool to be easy to use and for it to produce data that both client and consultant understand. So, PR Santa, if you could pop that in my stocking on the way over to your mince pie and sherry, that'd be great.
Secondly, I would like people to stop talking about public relations as if everyone involved in the industry is dark, evil and immoral. A few 'spin doctors' have tarnished our profession and it's taking a long time to shake this association. I would like people to realise that the vast majority of PR consultants take ethics and honesty very seriously.
Thirdly, I would like to see more PR people (both in-house and consultants) supporting PRiNZ events. Their regular networking and seminar events are always absolutely brilliant.
Finally, I would like the people running my office to introduce beanbags, an ice-cream machine and a three day weekend. That last one might be a tad unreasonable but who cares- it's Christmas and I have been very very good,
A Festive PR Consultant xx
And with that, I shall sign off for the year. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas, full of mince pies, too much sherry and happiness for both you and your families. I look forward to a lot more PR blogging in the New Year and maybe even meeting a few readers at some PRiNZ events in 2009 (that's if anyone actually reads this blog- I do have my doubts. Ah well, I enjoy it and that's the main thing!!)
P.S. The 'Dear Santa' idea was stolen from my UK friends over at PR and Comms ;)
P.P.S. My Santa photo is the strangest thing I've ever seen....that's Santa related
When I talk to people that were involved in the public relations industry back in London 25 years ago, they smile fondly as they reminisce about long boozy lunches with journalists. A major part of your job as a PR consultant was to wine and dine key figures from your target newspapers and magazines.
This just doesn't seem to happen anymore. Maybe this is because people in the media (and in every other industry for that matter) are shifting jobs on a more regular basis, which means that you don't have time to build up a longstanding relationship with an editor or writer from any particular magazine or newspaper. Maybe it's because the development of the Internet means that there is no need to get that personal with journalists anymore- it's easier and less time consuming (for both parties!) to stick to email and phone, perhaps never even meeting your contact face to face.
Yet, even though it appears that the days of networking regularly with journalists are over, many clients still expect their PR company to have a long list of valuable media contacts. Some will even change PR companies from time to time to ensure that they benefit from all of the different contacts on offer.
No doubt, you will get to know some journalists and editors at the publications you are pitching material to. But.....I think that a lot more importance is placed on that 'Little Black Book' than should be. I think a lot of people don't realise that, even back when schmoozing journalists was the norm, you would not get your story in the paper unless it was a good, newsworthy story.
Contacts don't matter- the only thing that matters is finding the newsworthiness in a client's business and taking your story to a suitable publication. As one blogger put it: 'you couldn't persuade your brother to run a story that didn't fit his publication'
This quote, from an article that was posted over at the website, The Marcus Letter, sums it up perfectly:
'Contacts, not so much -- Clients who think all they have to do is get the right PR person with the right contacts and they will get coverage are a real disappointment. Look at it this way, If I could throw a few dollars at a PR firm and get into the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, I'd hire them myself! I have been in the business for 40 years. If there is a relevant media outlet and my client has a story, they get in. If not they don't. Period. And I never sell contacts.
Conversely business people, including PR people, who think they have contacts delude themselves. Their clients and employers create the contacts. When I worked for a big TV broadcaster I had contacts at TV Guide, when I worked for the Vietnam Government, I had contacts at the White House Press Office. I had the contacts because I had a client with information to deliver, It was certainly not my charm, wit and good looks.'
So, I am officially stranded in New Zealand. My British passport expired last month and my NZ residency visa thingy ran out of juice today. So yeah, you won't be seeing the back of this blogger anytime soon (or at least not until I can scrape together enough pennies to buy my right to leave the country and come back again!) Not that I mind too much. I love this place.
Anyway, back to the topic in hand! I have been having quite a few interesting conversations with fellow PR people recently about how they are handling the current economic dip that this country is going through.
You would think that PR would feel the trickle down effect from struggling Kiwi businesses but this is not what I have been hearing. One woman I spoke to at the last PRiNZ event I attended says that her consultancy is busier than ever. At Intermediary, business is booming and our clients are seeing positive results on their bottom lines (especially our invoice discounting client, for obvious reasons!)
Could this be because New Zealand business owners are recognising that an increased PR, marketing and advertising effort when times are hard can be of huge benefit?
This attitude would make perfect sense. During past recessions, the companies that combined advertising and PR are the ones that survived and prospered. Some companies, such as Disney, HP and Microsoft were even founded during recessionary periods and have gone on to become some of the world's most successful enterprises. Why? Because while other companies were cutting back and sticking their heads in the sand, Bill Gates and Mr Disney were taking full advantage of the situation and were putting agressive advertising, marketing and PR campaigns in place.
In the UK, they have taken things to the next level and the term, 'Recession PR' has been coined. Ogilvy UK is developing a package of offerings aimed at companies hit by the credit crunch. Meanwhile, Brighter Group is creating a credit-crunch PR solution called Brighter Lite for ‘overstretched in-house departments’.
Ogilvy’s package of crisis comms, change management and corporate comms will be offered to markets facing high levels of consolidation such as banking and finance, travel and online retail.
Brighter Lite is offering a menu of basic PR services from which clients can pick for a set fee, instead of hiring new staff or buying subscriptions to research and monitoring services.
The moral to this story, for both PR consultants and NZ businesses, is to avoid dwelling on the doom and gloom of the credit crunch and start getting your creative juices flowing- think about the opportunities that are available and take action. People will still be buying products and companies still need PR- the approach just has to be slightly different.
There is a silver lining to every recessionary cloud.
This is what I have in my head at the moment- stuck on never-ending repeat....
"I've got the whole world in my hands
I've got the whole wide world in my hands
I've got the whole world in my hands
I've got the whooooole world in my hands."
Now, I loved this hymn as a child but my love is currently being wrecked by the advertising industry! Has anyone else noticed the overuse of this particular song in (distinctly 'Apple-like') TV ads at the moment? Last night I was subjected to this tune 3-4 times in the space of one ad break! It felt like I was on that 'It's a Small World' ride at Disneyland (if you have ever been on this ride, you'll know what I'm talking about....)
Somebody please change the record....
On Tuesday, 2nd December, members of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRiNZ) rang in the Christmas season at the Classic Comedy Club in Auckland. Members were invited to join the audience of TV show, Media 7, a weekly media commentary and review show.
TV host, Russell Brown, along with three panellists discussed the 'cult of celebrity' and why we are all so desperate to know what is going on in the lives of the Britneys and Beckhams of the world. Fellow PR consultant, Fleur Revell-Devlin, from Impact PR, was one of the panellists. She was joined by Trish Carter and author of 'Bitch and Famous', Wendyl Nissen.
This was the first time that I had sat in a TV audience and I was fascinated by everything that was going on behind the scenes. I found the subject matter very interesting although I have to admit, still being fairly new to the country (a resident for two years), I had no idea who some of the so-called 'famous' people were and I still don't quite believe that there are any paparazzi in existence over here!
The comment that sticks out in my mind is that the New Zealand media can't afford to get on the bad side of too many individuals in the public eye. This country doesn't have a great deal of truly famous people and the magazines and newspapers can't afford to alienate them as they need them to sell their covers.
This makes a lot of sense to me and I think it's true in other areas outside of media as well. When you're working in a country the size of New Zealand, you should pay great attention to how you treat and interact with other companies and business people. You may well need them on your side sooner than you think. A very good lesson to bear in mind...
Media 7 can be watched at TVNZ On Demand. Click here to view the 'Celebrity' episode. The Media 7 show appears on TVNZ 7 on Wednesdays at 9.30pm, Thursdays at 12.30pm, Fridays at 9.30pm and Saturdays at 12.30pm.