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Tony Greener Practical PR Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 2 Practical PR © 2011Tony Greener & bookboon.com ISBN 978-87-7681-899-9 Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 3 Practical PR Contents Contents 1 What is Public Relations? 6 What is PR? 7 Two-Way Communication 8 The Great Dunlop Squash Racket 9 Shock! Horror! Drama! 10 2 The Standing of PR 13 The guises under which PR operates 13 Who needs it? 15 Applying PR in practice 16 Product PR 17 Business PR 18 Financial PR 18 Political PR 19 Internal PR 19 The next step for top-performing graduates Masters in Management in Management provides specific and tangible foundations for a successful career in business.s This 12-month, full-time programme is a business qualification with impact. In 2010, our MiM employment rate was 95% within 3 months of graduation*; the majority of graduates choosing to work in consulting or financial services. As well as a renowned qualification from a world-class business school, you also gain access to the School’s network of more than 34,000 global alumni – a community that offers support and opportunities throughout your career. For more information visit www.london.edu/mm, email firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on +44 (0)20 7000 7573. *Figures taken from London Business School’s Masters in Management 2010 employment report Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 4 Click on the ad to read more Practical PR Contents 3 Planning & Evaluation 20 The Planning Approach 21 Example of a PR Plan 23 4 Media Relations 34 The newspaper 34 5 The Broadcast Media 46 TV & Radio 46 Media People 47 6 The Persuasion Techniques 50 The press release 51 Some golden rules 53 The Mutual Benefits 56 The Visit 58 Join EADS. A global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. Let your imagination take shape. EADS unites a leading aircraft manufacturer, the worllearning and development opportunities, and all the support you need, helicopter supplier, a global leader in space programyou will tackle interesting challenges on state-of-the-art products. worldwide leader in global security solutions and systems to form Europe’s largest defence and aerospace group. More thWe take more than 5,000 interns every year across disciplines 140,000 people work at Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian andranging from engineering, IT, procurement and ﬁnance, to in 90 locations globally, to deliver some of the industrategy, customer support, marketing and sales. Positions are exciting projects. available in France, Germany, Spain and the UK. An EADS internship offers the chance to use your theoretical knowledge and apply it ﬁrst-hand to real situations and assignmentse and apply, visitwww.jobs.eads.com. You can also during your studies. Given a high level of responsibiﬁnd out more on our EADS Careers Facebook page. Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 5 Click on the ad to read more Practical PR WHAT IS PUBLIC RELATIONS? 1 What is Public Relations? Ironically, public relations probably suffers from a worse press than almost any other profession. The art of presenting consistently a series of positive messages about themselves seems to elude many of the otherwise smart practitioners who use their skills to persuade the public to buy unwanted goods, services or images. This lack of clarity is not only ironical; it is also counterproductive for the PR profession because no self respecting business of any size - and absolutely no public sector organisation - can afford to ignore some aspects of public relations. Apart from anything else, there is a great deal of confusion over exactly what PR is. Most of us have heard of it. Some of us use it. Few of us really understand it. And yet, it’s been around a long time - if under other names. The first recorded application of the art dates from the time, around 2000 BC, when Moses was standing on the shore of the Red Sea with his Public Relations Officer by his side, hundreds of Israelites looking to him for leadership and thousands of Egyptians bearing down upon them in chariots. “What, exactly, are we going to do now?” enquired the PRO with trepidation. Moses thought for a while and then said: “What about if I arrange it so that the Red Sea divides leaving a dry causeway in the middle for us to walk over? Then when the Egyptians get here the sea can roll back again and drown them all.” The PRO thought about this long and hard and finally said “It’ll never work, never. Tell you what though, if it does, I’ll guarantee you a double page spread in the Old Testament.” The actual coverage of this incident in the Old Testament is 16 verses covering less than half a page, which just goes to show that PR people have always erred on the optimistic side in their forecasts of media coverage, even when miracles are performed. This book is designed to give an introduction to the more conventional and modern practices of PR and to present some guidelines for the lay person, setting out the ground rules, introducing some of the main activities which take place under the PR banner and addressing some of the pitfalls and advantages of the art - for it is an art, not a science or even, yet, a management discipline. The book is specifically aimed at the small/medium sized business or organisation mainly in the private and voluntary sectors although many public sector bodies might also benefit from reading it, or anything else about PR. Wherever possible, the examples quoted are relevant to these areas. In some instances, it happens that more graphic examples exist in larger organisations and, where this is so, these examples are given for greater clarity. The principles involved, however, do not differ in any material way from one organisation to another or from one PR practitioner to another. It is merely the method by which the principles are put into practice which might vary. Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 6 Practical PR WHAT IS PUBLIC RELATIONS? What is PR? First, what exactly is PR? and why might you need it anyway? There is still a popular misconception that PR is mainly the gin and tonic brigade, adept at whining and dining, spending other people’s money with alarming freedom and generally having a high old time. Actually, it isn’t like this; and it if ever was, it certainly isn’t any longer. Before we define it, let’s try to establish what it isn’t. 1. It isn’t words or pictures about your organisation that you have paid a newspaper, magazine, electronic publishing house, radio or TV station to carry. That’s advertising. 2. It isn’t the constant portrayal of a leading figure in the organisation as being paramount in his/her field. That’s self aggrandizement. 3. It isn’t a section of the Marketing department which acts only as an obtainer of free media coverage for a product or service - although that may be part of its key function 4. It isn’t a service to reserve private suites at the Savoy, book tables in some dubious night club, order the coffee or drive the Managing Director’s children to the zoo. That’s the role of either the secretary or the au pair, depending on the attitude of Mrs Managing Director. (NB. This hardly ever applies to Chairmen; they already have a full staff to carry out all these things) 5. It isn’t the automatic right to have your point of view recorded for posterity by a journalist or broadcaster. That’s impossible. 6. It isn’t a dustbin for all the fiddling jobs that nobody else wants to do and that may loosely involve the public or the organisation’s image. That’s bad management. Yet it can embody all these areas and a great deal more besides. Perhaps what it is can best be summed up in the sentence:- “The art of presenting an organisation in its best light to all its audiences” In other words, controlling the way in which the organisation is presented to influence the way in which people (or, that current buzz phrase with no clear meaning, stakeholders) regard it. And it is an art, when properly carried out, because it follows artistic lines which play upon emotion rather than logic. It involves the creative side of the brain more than the practical one in a way which is similar to the creative role in advertising. It establishes and sustains corporate imagery - and that is not a scientific process. The word “audiences” in a PR sense does not just mean the public or external bodies; it also means employees, suppliers, business partners, associates, the media, trade networks, industry watchdogs, financial investors, social groupings and a whole host of influential groups known in the PR industry as Target Audiences. Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 7 Practical PR WHAT IS PUBLIC RELATIONS? PR therefore exists to:- • build the reputations of companies and organisations • build the reputations of individuals as experts in their fields • increase awareness and appreciation of products or services and of the organisation which provides them • enhance credibility of a public positoin or an organisation’s worth • mount a campaign aimed at achieving specific objectives In other words, PR aims to make people think differently of an organisation - more highly, perhaps. And this aim can be carried out either in-house by the organisation’s own staff, by using the services of a PR consultancy or by a combination of both. Two-Way Communication PR is not simply a one-way flow of pell mell information resembling a sort of badly written M25; it has a two-way role as well. It can, for example, help to shape an organisation’s policies by informing management of the expectations, opinions and concerns of its various publics and explaining and advising upon subsequent action. In this role PR is firmly a management function, charged with the responsibility of managing an organisation’s reputation - shaping, protecting and promoting it. It does this by a huge spread of activity - perhaps wider than those of most other professions. Press and media relations is the best known and certainly one the most important disciplines, but in reality, any channel of communication is a PR opportunity. A campaign, therefore, may include writing and publishing brochures, leaflets, pages on web sites, posters and advertisements, lobbying national or local government, holding briefing sessions and presentations for pressure groups and influential individuals, embarking upon educational programmes, persuading third parties to write or comment favourably to lend support from quarters which are perceived to be impartial, arranging exhibitions and conferences, organising visits to venues by important pressure groups and, often, persuading the press and media to support the cause. Some of these activities might have been undertaken in any case - such as the advertising or lobbying - but taken as a whole, they require a PR coordinator to mould them into an effective expression of the case, to ensure consistency of messages, accuracy of information and, above, all, that the message has been properly put across, received and understood. One notable captain of industry defined, or re-defined, the classic definition of the principles of communication, although he was honest enough to admit that it owed something to Aristotle. “There are three main stages. First, you must define what you want and need to communicate - the message - and communicate it clearly and concisely. Then you must ensure that it has been understood by those to whom it has been communicated. Finally, you must ensure that the audience knows exactly what you want them to do as a result of your communication and that must include a right of reply. Without these elements, you are wasting your time.” Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 8 Practical PR WHAT IS PUBLIC RELATIONS? Those cardinal rules - to clarify, to communicate, to ensure understanding and opportunity of reply - govern most that is beneficial in PR terms. They also ensure that thought has been given to the objectives and the strategy of how this is going to be achieved. Accordingly, the objectives must be established in your own mind as a necessary precursor to the process of PR - just as it must in many other business activities. Once the objectives have been agreed, the strategy of how they are to be attained must be devised and put into operation. Finally, the degree of success must be evaluated, not only to gauge the success of this exercise but also so that future exercises start from a more informed base and so that any oversights or omissions can be rectified. Put in this somewhat theoretical way, the task may sound dry and clinical - as any profession can be at times. The practice is very different however; often interesting, sometimes exciting - and not always for the right reasons - often fraught. The challenge of influencing people’s thinking and of changing their minds remains fresh and absorbing even after many years in the business. A couple of examples may help to illustrate this. The Great Dunlop Squash Racket One good example of pro-active consumer product PR is the launch of the Dunlop MAX 500G squash racket. It was the latest in the Dunlop range of rackets - of which there were a dozen or so - and, consequently, it had to be made to stand out from the rest of this range, as well as from the competition, especially to justify its premium pricing position. All the usual advertising and point of sale (POS) activities were planned with a substantial launch budget. This was all fine as far as it went. However, it was important to address the large body of keen squash players - about 2 million in the UK alone - who would not necessarily be exposed to this campaign. So it was decided to mount a regional press launch, partly because local papers are a great place to sell consumer goods and partly because the specialist squash press media is very restricted. The problem here was that there was very little reason for regional newspapers to write about a new squash racket which had negligible local or national news interest. Somebody introduces a new racket every five minutes; they all look much the same and often play in much the same way - true “Me, too” products. So it was decided to use the services of Dunlop Slazenger’s best known retained squash player, Jonah Barrington, a former World Champion and, even in his early 50s, more than capable of beating most players in the country. Jonah hosted a series of press launches at prestigious squash clubs throughout the UK in London, Birmingham and Manchester. By this means it was possible to invite literally hundreds of journalists all within a couple of hours’ travel of these venues. The evening began with a brief presentation on the background to the squash racket market so that the journalists were given the context in which the product was being launched and the strength of the Dunlop brand in the UK market - over 40% at that time. Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 9 Practical PR WHAT IS PUBLIC RELATIONS? The Squash Manager then described the properties of the MAX 500 G and especially the benefits of the, then, high technology design with its hollow carbon fibre frame. He introduced a seven minute video, also featuring Jonah, illustrating these properties. After this the journalists had the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the main features and issues before Jonah gave one of his famous clinics. In this he talked very entertainingly about squash in general for about an hour, illustrating some of his points with a hapless, volunteer guinea pig player (who received a free racket for his/her pains). Then Jonah rounded off the evening with an exhibition match against a well-known local player, usually the unfortunate local squash club professional (Jonah likes to win his exhibition matches). A buffet gave further opportunity for discussion until the small hours. The venues were packed at each session and the resulting regional coverage was very satisfactory. Much of the expenditure was being incurred in any case - the video was produced for clubs and retailers, for instance - but the entire cost was not more than a fraction of the launch advertising and promotional budgets. It was a drop in the ocean for a product which became by far the best selling squash racket in the UK within three months of launch. The cost - less than £3,000 for each occasion - included all the press releases, packs and photographs, invitations, hospitality and catering, hire of venues, Jonah’s fees, travel and subsistence as well as a few free rackets. The evenings were enjoyable and successful and helped to forge stronger links with the clubs and the public as well as the specialist and regional press. It was a classic example of the product launch. Shock! Horror! Drama! The second example - and the other side of the coin - is the response, defensive campaign aimed at damage limitation after things have gone wrong. As with most cases of this type, the PR specialists were called in only after it was too late to avert the damage altogether. A well-known company had organised a national newspaper competition through its retail chain. On the day of the draw, the first correct entry taken at random out of the hat won a holiday villa, the runner up won a car and 20 third places won less exotic prizes. During the draw, there had, apparently, been some question over the order in which the winners were drawn, particularly as a wide geographical spread of winners would clearly result in greater regional media publicity. Some days after the draw and after the results had been announced, one of the employees concerned left the company and promptly informed the editor of the local newspaper that irregularities had taken place in the allocation of prizes. What was worse was that he also tried to involve one of the major Sunday newspapers, a title which could easily and very quickly have besmirched the good name of the company and done irreparable damage to the good image, especially of the retail chain. Containing action was needed very quickly. It had to be totally convincing while preserving the integrity of the company in the face of the possible shock, horror, drama which might break at any minute. As usual in these situations, the company was hampered by the fact that it did not really know how much the informant knew, how much the newspapers knew or even what had really gone on at the draw. The company’s PR function and its chosen PR agency had to play it very safe. Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 10 Practical PR WHAT IS PUBLIC RELATIONS? The first stage was to devise a holding statement in case the story was printed - a statement which upheld the company’s integrity and professionalism while going some way towards admitting that there might be matters worth investigating. This statement was only to be used in a reactive mode, in case a journalist contacted the company before the truth could be ascertained. The next stage was to contact the main prize winners and ensure that they were happy with the way in which their prizes had been allocated. However, it was also decided as a strategic measure to award two first prizes and no second prize so that absolute fairness and justice could have been seen to be done. In parallel with these actions, the internal machine came into action; all the staff involved were interviewed, the truth finally extracted and appropriate action taken, some of it of a disciplinary nature. At the same time, the security department investigated the background of the ex-employee who had created all the fuss and came up with some pretty damning circumstances. In light of these developments, the press statement was updated just as the editor of the local paper - who also acted as a link with the Sunday scandal sheet - rang up to ask about the allegations. He was invited in for a full discussion, at which occasion he received and accepted the company’s statement. The resulting article he produced for his next issue was a model of responsible, objective reporting which reflected considerable credit on the company. The Sunday paper ignored the story altogether once it discovered that a happy ending was likely. Before the local paper article appeared, all staff were fully briefed and considerable mileage was made both internally and externally of the company’s integrity and generosity by awarding two first prizes instead of one. Excellent Economics and Business programmes at: “The perfect start of a successful, international career.” CLICK HERE to discover why both socially and academically the University of Groningen is one of the best places for a student to be www.rug.nl/feb/education Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 11 Click on the ad to read more Practical PR WHAT IS PUBLIC RELATIONS? And there, to all intents and purposes, it ended with all parties happy, damage limited to an extra first prize and considerable goodwill created in a number of prize winning communities throughout the country. The ex-employee, faced with possible legal proceedings, vanished. This incident, although greatly simplified and made anonymous in this narrative, is a good example of the value of crisis management PR which can save a potentially explosive situation for a relatively modest outlay. Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 12 Practical PR The Standing of PR 2 The Standing of PR So diverse is the field of PR that it defies a single label. Indeed the phrase “Public Relations” itself is a misleading and somewhat hackneyed description which began to run out of credibility during the 1980s. At that time the vision of PR which many people harboured - and which some may still have - was of the smarmy fixer glued to a gin and tonic, a Sloane whose need for work was debatable and who thought it would be fun to go into PR. The fact that the Royal Family have married into two PR-related partners hasn’t necessarily helped matters much. Some PR people were pseudo hacks not talented enough to be a proper journalist - or even, more likely, an improper one. PR has undoubtedly suffered because of the apparent lightweight nature of its business. Perhaps it had also suffered because a number of less than ethical elements have been attracted to the fast buck which could be made, especially consultancies - but this is not an occurrence unique to PR. The depth of suspicion about the PR label is still manifest. One consultant chemical pathologist involved with a PR consultant in preparing a paper for an international conference of highly eminent medics once said “You know, I never used to think much of PR people”; this was after his slides and script had been uncomplainingly re-written for the umpteenth time overnight. It is still to common an outlook and one to which very little difference has been made over the past couple of decades. As with most professions, PR has its governing bodies, (the Public Relations Consultants Association - PRCA, the International Association of Business Communicators - IABC and the Institute of Public Relations - IPR) although few of them wield over their members a fraction of the influence developed over the years by, say, the Law Society. However, some can provide support services in laying down codes of conduct and practice for their members The guises under which PR operates Partly as a result of the backlash against the PR label and partly for a complex variety of reasons, there has arisen a proliferation of names for in-house employees who carry out work of a PR nature. This has led to a confusing number of titles for thousands of people doing similar work. The public sector, for example, perceived the need for some form of PR service during the 1970s, although a few areas, notably in government and nationalised industry, had been using the facility for a long time. What especially gave impetus to the rapid acquisition of PR skills was the greater openness and accountability of the public sector - perhaps one of the most practical and enduring outcomes of the 1960s protest movement - together with far reaching changes to local government first emerging around 1974. Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 13 Practical PR The Standing of PR In this, relatively socialist, climate of opinion in the late 1960s and early 1970s - perhaps the only time when there ever has been a socialist period in the UK - any practice which smacked of capitalist exploitation was ostensibly taboo in official circles. This was especially so at a time when private enterprise was less fashionable than it has since become, when employment was relatively full and when the spectre of Rachmann, Poulson and Cunningham haunted those in authority. Interestingly, at the time of writing, the son of Alderman Cunningham is a cabinet minister; perhaps the wheel turns full circle. Terms such as “PR” and “advertising” while not exactly dirty words, were not fully trusted by those still grappling with the problems of implementing the liberal, alternative dreams of the 1960s in a society whose fabric was being increasingly torn apart by economic ills, radical reform and industrial strife. Consequently, employers in local government, education and health authorities and quangoes circumvented the difficulties of jumping on the bandwagon of greater communication and openness without compromising their ideals by calling by some other name the PR practitioners they were busily recruiting. “Information officer” was one which was, and still is, greatly favoured by universities, colleges and some of the public utilities which have since been privatised. Of the other commonly found terms, “Communications” became burdened with another meaning and on which is still confusing to many who expect it to represent aspects of technology or postal services. “External relations” or “affairs” acquired favour in both private and public sector organisations which had difficulty with “PR” - usually where these functions restricted themselves to externally targeted work. Teach with the Best. Learn with the Best. Agilent offers a wide variety of affordable, industry-leading electronic test equipment as well as knowledge-rich, on-line resources —for professors and students. We have 100’s of comprehensive web-based teaching tools, lab experiments, application notes, brochures, DVDs/ See what Agilent can do for you. CDs, posters, and more. www.agilent.com/ﬁnd/EDUstudents www.agilent.com/ﬁnd/EDUeducators © Agilent Technologies, Inc. 2012 u.s. 1-800-829-canada: 1-877-894-4414 Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 14 Click on the ad to read more Practical PR The Standing of PR “Employee Relations” grew in the 1980s when that responsibility was quite often transferred to the professional communicators in PR, often to the despair of the Personnel, or latterly HR, department. Those with vision in the 1970s saw that PR, whatever it was called, would become an indispensable part of the marketing mix, that grandiose title which describes a rag-bag of duties from pricing to market research to advertising. Thus, as enterprise and marketing regained credibility throughout the Thatcher years of the 1980s, so the proliferation of titles crept into the private sector as well. Companies with a need for strong sales support pushed PR people into marketing departments, sometimes as “Product Affairs” or “Publicity”. In order to distinguish the market support roles from the broader business-wide role, therefore, “Corporate Affairs” or “Relations” titles began to appear and are now the accepted label in a number of large organisations. Latterly, something of a compromise has been reached with the adoption of yet another variation, “Public Affairs”. This, a senior figure in the profession once sourly remarked, was all too appropriate for the role.”They can’t do anything decently in private,” he observed. “They’ve even got to make a public drama out of their sex lives.” Whatever it’s called, PR is here to stay and to be used and the number of organisations which have an awareness and appreciation of what it offers increase every week. Who needs it? All organisations, public or private, who have a need to communicate their point of view convincingly to any audience. They all have a need for some kind of PR service, even if they don’t always call it that. But isn’t communicating with other people or entities largely common sense? Yes, it is, but there are also many different ways of applying that sense, not least the professional knowledge of when to communicate to which audiences and why. There are also a large number of professional techniques involved in expressing what you want to say. This is where PR is a practical combination of the best method and the best discipline to achieve your objectives. It may well be that the relatively new emergence of the PR profession - over the last quarter of a century - is partly a process of bringing together a wide variety of traditional communications skills under one umbrella. It may also be that this process has impinged upon several other areas of communication while overlaying them with a veneer of skills and respectability, some of it imported from other management disciplines and other cultures. Irrespective, there are three main reasons why an organisation needs a PR service in one form or another:- 1. It is extremely cost effective in comparison with other methods of communicating and publicising a message. An advertising campaign for a new product can easily cost around £500,000 even without TV exposure. A much publicised recent airline campaign using TV reputedly cost £5m. Yet a PR campaign to promote the same product is feasible for 10-15% of that cost. There won’t be quite the same control over what is reported or where or when, but this is often more than compensated for by the second factor Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 15 Practical PR The Standing of PR 2. The impartial opinion. For example, by having a new product or service reviewed in the press and media, the public is reassured that an independent, third party observer has tested it, understands it and is reasonably sure that it presents fair value for money. No advertisement can achieve that effect for adverts are always perceived - perhaps subconsciously - as paid for space or air time which carries a hard selling message or hidden propaganda motive. Perhaps surprisingly, even alarmingly, the general public still believes much of what it reads in the papers, sees on TV or hears on radio to a very high degree. 3. PR has become an essential tool in the overall process of business growth and organisational development. It is now becoming accepted as an integral part of the combination of disciplines which go to make up any properly structured organisation, public or private. Operating across its three classic areas of product, business and internal affairs, it provides a service complementary to the overall objectives of growth and profitability by interlocking with marketing, sales, HR, manufacturing, purchasing, finance, engineering, business planning, R & D, operations and all the other elements in a modern integrated business structure. Indeed, in many respects, it cuts across all these in a way in which few other operations are able to do and, in some structures, the PR Director is closer to the Chairman or CEO than any comparable director, with the possible exception of Finance. As a profession, PR is still in its formative years. It does not yet have the seniority or respect afforded to other professions, such as law or accountancy, nor is it necessarily going to achieve this in the foreseeable future. What it does have is a power to change people’s minds, sometimes in an open and direct fashion, sometimes in an altogether more subtle and delicate way, more akin to the intrigues of an Italian Renaissance court than to the hurly-burly of modern business. Jack of all skills and master of only the power of expression, it has an enduring and increasing role in modern society. Applying PR in practice All this theory is all very well but the reason you’ve bought - or borrowed, liberated or rescued - this book is to find out how to conduct successful PR activity as an integral part of your overall business. By now, you may be feeling that it’s about time you got your teeth into something meaty, with apologies to vegetarians. Very well, then. The rest of the book is geared to the opportunities of the PR world and deals with these from a practical point of view. What this book sets out to do is to establish the foundation skills which are necessary if you want to conduct your own PR activity, even to a limited extent. This includes the rudiments of relations with press and broadcast media, local communities, employees and opinion formers and indicates the nature and value of sponsorship, an activity which often runs hand in hand with PR programme. It covers most of the areas in which you’ll need to operate and provides an introduction to the kind of services that you may need to call upon to bolster your efforts. For, although a lot of PR is just common sense, hard work and the application of basic principles - like any other skill - there are a number of specialised areas in which you would do well to take the advice, if not the full time services, of a professional practitioner. It also touches on the advantages and pitfalls of using a PR consultancy to do all or part of the job for you. If you decide to go down this route, therefore, you will be more aware of what you want from the service, how you should be briefing and working with a consultancy, what you should be paying and what you ought to be getting in return. Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 16 Practical PR The Standing of PR This book does not pretend to be a bible or even an exhaustive list of PR skills. By common consensus, the definitive book on PR has not yet been written and this is certainly not going to be it. Some aspects, for example, are deliberately omitted as being unnecessary detail at this stage. The book merely sets out one fundamental approach to realising the potential which exists for most literate business people who wish, and need, to raise the profile and thereby the standing, of their organisations. In this, it is aimed largely at the private sector, although many public sector practitioners may also find it beneficial. Before the detail starts, therefore, here is a brief description of the main types of PR operation to help you decide in which areas you need to concentrate your efforts. Product PR This is the most common and traditional aspect of PR work: the promotion of the product, brand or service, usually through the press and broadcast media as well as other channels. It involves persuading journalists to write about the product or service, preferably in a positive way but, at least, to write about it. This brings the subject to the notice of the customer without the often prohibitive costs of advertising while at the same time imbuing it with the benefits of an informed third party opinion. Need help with your dissertation? Get in-depth feedback & advice from experts in your topic area. Find out what you can do to improve the quality of your dissertation! Get Help Now Go to www.helpmyassignment.co.uk for more info Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 17 Click on the ad to read more Practical PR The Standing of PR Product PR is clearly very useful to launch a new product when a consistently high level of visibility is required - see also Chapter 3. It is also used, however, to keep the product in front of the public. Most of the cars which appear in fictional programmes on TV and in feature films, for instance, are placed there after much hard work from the PR department of the car companies, invariably without charge and, it has been rumoured, sometimes with backhanders to ensure selection ahead of the competition. Just think of the Bond films and, depending on how old you are, you probably associate them with Aston Martin, Lotus or BMW. Oddly enough, brands like Lada, Daewoo, SEAT and Hyundai hardly ever come to mind in this connection. Or in most other connections. More people are employed in product PR than in any other form of the art and it remains the staple diet of most PR consultancies, largely because it is the most frequently required service, especially for small and medium sized companies (SMEs). To many practitioners - and especially consultancies - it is also the most tedious aspect of the business and often tends, therefore, to be relegated to the more junior staff whose enthusiasm to ring up journalists and sell product stories remains as yet undimmed. Be that as it may, the skill to pull down the coverage is still the one which is most often in demand from the majority of companies. Business PR Often a more subtle approach, business PR involves creating the impression that the company from which the customer is buying is fundamentally sound with a good track record and even better potential in areas such as growth, profitability, stability and so on. Often used to reinforce the product PR effort - because customers like to buy from successful organisations - it can contribute greatly to the confidence a public has in an organisation - and this includes the voluntary and public sectors. Although often dealing with the financial side of the business, especially results, performance and investment, business PR is not strictly speaking financial PR in that it is aimed more at the customer and other major stakeholders such as suppliers, trade networks, the public and other opinion formers rather than at the City and financial institutions. Nevertheless, the two are very close and many campaigns can be aimed at both sets of audiences with relatively minor changes. The communications of the employee relations and industrial relations issues, which too often haunt our newspapers, are also an important part of the business PR remit, fortunately slightly less so now than during the habitual unrest of 1960-1990. Financial PR A highly skilled branch of the discipline, financial PR requires a thorough knowledge of the workings of the City with its myriad financial institutions, rules and regulations, the particular habits and requirements of investors and analysts and the intricacies of the Stock Exchange. So tightly focused is it that the majority of financial PR practitioners make a very comfortable living by specialising in this and nothing else. For several years there has been a dearth of good financial PR talent and this is fully reflected in the fees of financial PR specialists - which can be quite spectacular. Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 18 Practical PR The Standing of PR Unless you are quoted on the full Stock Exchange, are threatened by an unwelcome takeover, wish to take over somebody else against their wishes, have a burning need to raise cash without going through the usual channels or wish to be listed on the USM, financial PR is not an area to get into. Consequently, this book doesn’t deal in it in any great detail, although it recurs in part in Chapter 9 which deals with the whole question of employing PR consultancies. Political PR This is another highly specialised field which concerns itself very largely with Parliamentary lobbying, in which field there has been a noticeable increase over the last 20 years. Usually run by ex-politicians or ex-civil servants and now largely guided by the findings of the Nolan report into public standards, it is not a discipline which has too much in common with mainstream PR and will not be dealt with in these pages. The lobbying of local government and other public bodies is, however, a different kettle of fish altogether and is covered as part of the business PR range of activities. In particular, local government relations are addressed in Chapter 6. Internal PR This, one of the most important areas in which anyone can operate, was for many years an HR responsibility and in some organisations, it still is. However, responsibility is now often being channelled away from HR and into the professional communicators, either directly into PR or via a hybrid Internal Communications functions which often draws upon PR skills and people. Since employees are in many ways the most difficult of all audiences with whom to communicate, it follows that those practitioners who are best at communicating need to be heavily involved. This subject is discussed in more detail in Chapter 8. So, having established the ground rules, the practical detail follows. Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 19 Practical PR Planning & Evaluation 3 Planning & Evaluation More time, money and effort is wasted in PR through people not planning it properly than through any other cause. There are quite simply two types of PR people; those who do it and those who plan it. Those who do it are always going to be at somebody else’s beck and call. They are unlikely to have much discretion in what they do, when, how or with whom they do it - because the decisions have already been taken for them. They tend to be the operators whose desks are always piled high with unfinished jobs, awash with urgent demands and depressingly daunting after even a long lunch break. Those who plan it are rather more enviable beings. They have a clearer idea of where they are going, how, when and why. They are usually held in more esteem by their fellow managers or operators. Snd they have the relatively luxurious knowledge that they are more in control of their own destinies than many of their peers. In truth, planning is not a terribly difficult art. Most self respecting PR practitioners can tackle it without too much apprehension and often reap substantial benefits from doing so. Put simply the main benefits include:- • a knowledge of what is likely to be occupying their time at given periods of the next 12 months • relative consistency of message and method • an understanding of why they are carrying out a particular exercise in a particular way at a particular time Free online Magazines Click here to download SpeakMagazines.com Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 20 Click on the ad to read more Practical PR Planning & Evaluation • some control over their own workload • a reasonable job description • a reasonable level of self esteem and of job satisfaction • the ability to prepare for work before it needs to be done, thereby reducing stress levels • a growing reputation as someone who can think ahead rather than merely react in a seat of the pants manner All these benefits have the power to make life a good deal more comfortable or, at least, a good deal less uncomfortable. The Planning Approach The approach is not hard, complex or daunting; it is largely common sense and the application of a little logical reasoning. A typical planning approach would be:- Research What do your audiences know about you already? What do they think, feel, believe and say about you, your organisation, product, service and reputation? Without researching this type of data, any PR campaign is going to be a shot in the dark - and that os not then best sue of hard won resource Objectives These should be SMART - that is:- S-pecific - to achieve a certain numerical goal M-easurable - to allow for evaluation A-ttainable - because there is nothing more disheartening than trying to reach for a latter day Holy Grail R-ealistic - so that energy and resources are concentrated where they can do most good T-imed - so that the goal can be achieved by a certain deadline Writing objectives can be a matter of discipline. It is often to put in everything that you would like to achieve about your organisation - tempting but mot very realistic. A practical example would be - to achieve six positive articles in identified media within one month. That is easily measured and the success or failure rate can be logged without reference to a complex computer programme. Key Messages What is it that you really need to say about your organisation, its products, services, people, locations, policies, investments, successes etc. This sounds easy and usually is. But remember that every [positive side to a coin has an obverse - a downside which many audiences will be quick to spot. Even a new product launch is not without is pitfalls; if a new product is so good,d what about all the old models which are still hanging around and which people still may be buying;a re they automatically obsolete? Have customers been wasting their money if they have bought recently? Do they feel they have been exploited? Most audiences will suspect question like this even if they don’t immediately voice them Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 21 Practical PR Planning & Evaluation Target Audiences Who needs to know you key messages? Most organisations can sit down and dash off a list of all the usual suspects - media, press, government, shareholders, investors, the community, academia etc. many however will forget one key audience - their own employees. this is probably the hardest audience if al and one which is very easy to get wrong - but, if you do, the chances of communicating successfully externally are minimal. Strategy This section really separates the sheep from the goats; if PR practitioners can write a good strategy, they are immediately established as being rather better than the average PR fluffy. How are you going to carry out the plan? What broad methods art you going to use to communicate the messages to the audiences? How are you going to leave a lasting value once the campaign is completed? Methodology The tempting bit to write because it covers all the practical ideas such as what to do when. It needs to incorporate a schedule which is costed and properly thought through so that as little as possible is left to chance. A Gantt chart or something similar is a good idea so that staff and other managers can see at a glance what is supposed to be happening when, where and how. All the detail which does not belong to the strategy is contained in this bit which forms the day to day working document on which the PR practitioners base their diaries. Costing Many finance managers are of the strange persuasion that budget drives strategy. this is a very stupid viewpoint. The strategy s right - or wrong - whether you have £100,000 to spend or £10,000; all that needs to change is the methodology, the detail. If the ideas are right, they are right and no financial constraint can make them wrong. What it does do is make the PR people draw int heir horns a but and adjust the methods to fit the resources available. Staffing Many organisations have far too many PR people. often one or two good people can achieve more than a vast army of not highly motivated staff. One of the worst PR departments ever seen had over 200 staff, none of whom knew what was happening at any given time on any given topic. 10% of that number would have been far more efficient - as well as far more cost effective. Sometimes, a PR post can be seen as a career developmental move, sometimes as a part time responsibility - although care has to be taken here that it is given the due respect it deserves. Sometimes a round peg can be removed from a square hole and given a more suitable task in a PR area.The function requires creativity, energy, common sense, a ability to write, an ability to be a self starter working in an autonomous position and an appetite for hard work. When someone fits this type of bill, they can make a very strong contribution. Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 22 Practical PR Planning & Evaluation Evaluating No plan is worth its weight in washers unless it can be evaluated at reasonable intervals such as annually. We will look at evaluation later, but review periods and methods by which to measure achievement need to be built into any PR plan from the start; otherwise the momentum can run away with the task and the plan may not be followed. it is when this happens that the trouble starts which annoys so many financial controllers. So plan it not to happen this way but to be controlled and measured and there shouldn’t be any major problems. All this sounds very easy and, when you’re practised at it, it is. When you’re not, it might just pay to bring in a consultant who is used to this type of thing and accept that a short term relationship might bring long term benefits for a relatively modest outlay. This is all very well but what does a real live practical PR plan look like? Here is a fairly typical example written for a banking division which will serve as an indication of what should, and should not, be included. Readers may note that the budget is fairly modest; this is a feature of many PR plans as we saw in the last chapter. Example of a PR Plan Introduction This plan has been devised with the input of a number of managers in NatWest Group Property (NWGP) notably the Head of Property Services and his PA, the heads of ser vices and customer service managers. You’re full of energy and ideas . And that’s © UBS 2010. All rights reserved. just what we are looking for. Looking for a career where your ideas could really make a diﬀerence? ▯UBS’s Graduate Programme and internships are a chance for you to experience for yourself what it’s like to be part of a global team that rewards your input and believes in succeeding together. Wherever you are in your academic career, make your future a part of ours by visiting www.ubs.com/graduates. www.ubs.com/graduates Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 23 Click on the ad to read more Practical PR Planning & Evaluation It is designed to reflect and support the corporate plan for NWGP as a whole and to complement a number of key strategic areas such as the corporate media policies. It also forms the framework from which to launch and operate a focused PR service for the regional offices. Objectives 1. To create a background of awareness and appreciation of NWGP to help facilitate the quest for new customers. This should involve a raising of awareness within specified target groups by 25% during first year and a further 20%/annum thereafter. 2. To reassure the major customer of the value and standing of NWGP and thereby to help to sustain the current relationship 3. To help generate a strong commitment to NWGP on the part of its employees. Key Messages 1. NWGP is part of the overall NatWest organisation with high levels of skill, professionalism and expertise in all aspects of property services and is highly cost effective in comparison with the competition. 2. NWGP staff are experienced professionals with a collectively strong track record in their specialist skills and fields 3. NWGP acts as project manager on a number of major schemes which include the tactical use of new technology, such as asbestos treatment, Halon gas banks etc which could be effectively applied to wider business sectors. 4. Although NWGP has been structured with the needs of its major customer in mind, it also has the flexibility to enter the broader property services market 5. There are a number of successful property management case studies eg 63 Piccadilly) which demonstrate NWGP’s command of best practice in the industry. 6. NWGP is a caring and responsible employer which pays due regard to the training and development if its staff including employment, technology, societal and environmental considerations 7. There is a need for early awareness of any possible adverse issues which could become public knowledge so that a communications strategy for damage exclusion or limitation can be planned. Target Stakeholders 1. The NatWest banking group as a major customer, opinion former and recommender of property services to third parties 2. Employees especially those in customer facing roles 3. The press and media which influences other target stakeholder groups 4. Potential new customers for property management services 5. The property industry – developers, architects, surveyors, suppliers, builders and agents 6. The general business market, especially organisations with a need to manage substantial property holdings 7. Regional business groups such as chamber s of commerce and trade, TCMs, civic amenity groups etc, 8. Local government 9. Employees Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 24 Practical PR Planning & Evaluation Strategy To communicate messages to audiences on a phased basis, using both direct and indirect channels so that stakeholders receive the same message through complementary channels which reinforce each other. This should also serve to position NWGP as a leading provider of property management services. At the same time, improve the level of internal communications so that employees are increasingly empowered to act as consistently positive ambassadors for NWGP based on a breadth of information about and confidence in their employer. Methods (Note, this section has been greatly shortened to preserve commercial confidentiality) Year 1, Quarter 1 1. A series of short workshops for MWGP managers in how the media works and how to handle it 2. The official openings of both Wimbledon and 63 Piccadilly 3. Creating a succinct damage limitation plan to deal with potential negative coverage in a pro-active way 4. Researching and publicising industry awards - e.g. civic trusts, conservation societies, environmental awards etc 5. Appointing a media evaluation service Year 1, Quarter 2 6. Researching promising stories suitable for both external and internal consumption 7. Publicising environmental achievements – e.g. the re-use of fixtures and fittings etc 8. Publicising employment and training stories 9. Announcing the start of new projects – e.g. Esher, Norbury etc Year 2, Quarter 1 10. Present to all employees a review of the past year, indicating specific employee involvement 11. Start to publicise the LOTS initiatives 12. Publicise support for Ealing Community Transport charity 13. Announce new project starts e.g. Leicester Square Croydon etc 14. Position NWGP as experts in their field Year 2, Quarter 2 15. Begin a rolling schedule of regional business to business media initiatives concentrating on small areas at a time 16. Use trade media to stress changing management styles to allow for new partnership arrangements and productivity improvements 17. Local media initiatives on education projects 18. Monitor future feature opportunities Download free eBooks at bookboon.com 25 Practical PR Planning & Evaluation (There were then sections on Costs, Evaluation and a summary typing up all the remaining details which have been excluded to preserve commercial confidentiality) Two points are worth noting; first the objectives are not as specific as they should be, especially in terms of time scale - by when has the profile to be raised? - and with which particular stakeholders? Second, although this is a plan for part of a bank, the scale is that of a small business and not dissimilar to many plans for small and medium sized companies. Otherwise this is a useful summary of the kind of reporting structure that ought to take place between client and consultancy at the start of a new relationship. The Costs section proved rather optimistic and the final fee settled down to around £1,000/month - again typical of a small/medium sized client for many provincial consultancies. We will look at consultancy fees, among other delights, in Chapter 10. Evaluation
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