👱 Why can't some PR people do basic media relations?
This week tackles the issues of defining PR and marketing, why PR isn't just media relations and why so many PR people can't even do basic media relations. When I shared a screen grab on LinkedIn of the email inbox of The Sun's political editor I didn't expect so much reaction and for more than 50,000 people to read it with hundreds of reactions, comments and messages.
I don't even bother to promote that I can provide training in media relations as I thought it a basic skill that every experienced PR person had mastered. Judging by the inbox, apparently not. I'm now running in-house courses for clients and might run open courses for individuals who want to sign up to do it with people from other companies or organisations.
Sharing it on LinkedIn is fascinating as you can see who is reading it. It includes 44 from the UK government Cabinet Office. Others with more than 20 include HSBC, Nationwide Building Society, EY, KPMG, BBC, Edelman, Amazon, Microsoft, Salesforce, NHS England and Coca-Cola. Some of the most common job titles are executive director, business strategist, marketing specialist and consultant.
In the UK we had the annual government Budget day last week. The political editor of The Sun (the best-selling popular newspaper) tweeted screenshots of his email inbox to show the hundreds of pitches he'd received. The most staggering fact wasn't how many he'd had, but how shockingly bad most of them were. There's lots PR professionals could learn from those two simple screenshots and I've already been asked by new clients to run training courses as a result.
Public relations has never just been about media relations, but it remains an essential element and is still just as vital as it has always been. It's depressing to see so many examples of weak approaches that give the impression of doing it for the sake of it, rather than to actually achieve something.
Data, measurement, analytics
An interesting article by Christopher S Penn (based on a presentation by Sean Lopp) on why we should use KPIs as notification threshold indicators. He talks about why KPIs shouldn't just be used as headlines in weekly, monthly or quarterly reports.
When I'm helping clients to improve their communications measurement and evaluation one of the most important points is getting them to focus on using measurement for insight at the start and for improvement while they do it. Too often PR and communication professionals are obsessed with using measurement to 'prove success'. If you focus on using it to get better then the results you 'prove' are better by default.
Research and reports
New research shows 72% of UK office workers surveyed want to work remotely. 44% want hybrid with some days in an office and some days at home, while 28% want full time at home. Just 25% want to be in an office full-time. I saw this as a news story a couple of weeks ago, but didn't share it as I couldn't find the original research. Thanks to Stephen Waddington sharing the original link I've now been able to read it all.
As employers work out ways to make permanent hybrid or full time remote working work I suspect the 25% will dwindle even more. At the moment people are expressing opinions based on their experience of working from home during a pandemic and being in lockdown for most of it. That's an entirely different experience to doing it in normal times.
Not unexpectedly the research shows working from home is least popular with younger office workers. I believe that's largely because society has been distorted over the last century by forcing people to move away from friends and family so they can be corralled into offices. Many of the perceived benefits of offices are artificial and exist only because offices exist. They all have alternatives. We can't immediately reset how society works. People and companies need to adapt and learn how to do remote working effectively.
Forward thinking employers such as Siemens, Spotify and HSBC are working hard think of innovative ways to make it work. There are also dinosaur employers and corporations like Goldman Sachs who don't have the courage or vision to imagine a better future and want to stick to the status quo. The list of failed companies who didn't adapt to changes in society and the economy is long. Those who fail to adapt to remote working will join them. There are lots of challenges to making remote working work, but one thing we have learnt is there are more benefits to it than anything offices can ever offer.
I mainly use the WeAreSocial and Hootsuite Digital report for global data that can be time-consuming to track down. The individual country editions, including the UK, have just been published. Interesting UK stats include 9.58 million home with smart home devices (e.g. Amazon Alexa) and that 78% of the population uses social media (defined broadly). The most used social media platforms are YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, TikTok, Skype, Reddit, Twitch, Tumblr, WeChat and Viber.
The link is to the PDF report of the UK data, which contains links to all the individual country reports from Abkhazia and Georgia (yes, both separately, which is an intriguing political statement) to Malaysia and Zimbabwe.
This is the tool that always gets the most interest when I share it. If you currently use Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to store data then stop! Stop right now. Excel is a brilliant spreadsheet. It is not a database.
Once you've used Airtable (the starter version is free) as a simple, easy to use database you'll wonder why you ever attempted to do it Excel. If you're looking for inspiration about to how to use it then you can start with the template library which has everything from CRMs and project managers to media lists and editorial calendars.
If you do one new thing today it should be signing up to Airtable to have a quick play.
How to and tips
On World Book Day I blogged about 10 PR books that I'd recommend. I could easily have recommended another 10. Let me know if you've read (or written!) any that you think I should read.
Much-needed common-sense from Mark Ritson on why marketing is still product, price, place, promotion. It's people who don't understand marketing who think it needs to be redefined. It's why theory, training and education are essential.
It's why public relations isn't part of marketing, even if they both use the same tactics for promotion, but both are much bigger disciplines. It's the same reason why public relations, doesn't need a new definition. It just needs people to understand what public relations really is and really always was. If you mistakenly think PR is just media relations, publicity or promotion that might be why you think it needs to be redefined, as it really isn't and never was.
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