PR specialist, Rhonda Rees, is our guest blogger this week. Rhonda Rees is a PR expert, author and advocate. She has written the award-winning book, Profit and Prosper with Public Relations ®: Insider Secrets to Make You a Success. Rhonda is the current Publicist of the Year from the Bulldog Reporter Publication for a PR awareness campaign she orchestrated re: Online book piracy issues. You can contact her through her website at: www.rhondareespr.com. Find her on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @ReesRhonda.
THE MERITS OF TRADITIONAL PUBLIC RELATIONS – IN A SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD
By Rhonda Rees
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Text Messaging…The list goes on and on, especially in our modern tech-savvy world. It’s now hard to remember back to a time – just a little over a decade ago, that the way most people communicated looked like something entirely different.
Without trying to date myself, if you go back even further, some of us can recall an era when there were no fax machines, voicemail, cell phones, Internet, e-mail, zip files, or blogs – and personal computers were just beginning to make the scene. If you wanted to leave a message, you had to dial a telephone and speak to a “live” person or reach an answering service.
In the world of public relations, press releases were sent out with a postage stamp, otherwise known as “snail mail”. But in today’s “instant” and fast turn-around society – it’s very hard to believe that we used to rely on these simple methods for our communications.
With the explosion of the World Wide Web, and more specifically with the wave of social media and its sophisticated technology, it may be hard for you to believe that sometimes the “old-fashioned” way – still works – and in certain cases, may even be better!
Are you familiar with the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” Well, as far as I’m concerned, that can certainly be applied to what I am about to share with you now. Traditional public relations and the methods by which we use to carry it out – still can’t be beat. Taking things slow and steady is actually the “name of the game” in good PR.
It takes time to build your name, brand, reputation and awareness for your company, product, service, cause or concern. In this case, patience is still very much a virtue.
There are some tried-and-true public relations principles and fundamentals that have stood the test of time – and have never gone out of style. Whether you are an author, own a business, or are an individual promoting something, or perhaps you are representing a non-profit organization, to be effective, PR people have to become “mini detectives”. In putting together a proper public relations plan you have to know your budget, be aware of your audience, (who you are trying to reach with your message) set proper goals and objectives, conduct research, plan campaign strategies, and develop a realistic time frame to carry this out.
You also have to target media such as the print and electronic, which includes newspapers, magazines, radio and TV stations, podcasts and online outlets.
Public Relations can also involve many other elements such as speaking engagements, workshops or seminars, special events, grand openings, and webinars.
Sending out the old-fashioned press release, pitch letter, press kit, or other accompanying material is all part of the public relations strategy. Coming up with the right PR angle or hook is very crucial to how your idea will come across. Remember that age-old wisdom that suggests that proper grammar is still very important. Don’t forget to dot your “I’s” and cross your “T’s”, and be sure to run your copy through the spell check! This will help to ignite the interest of the media, and will ultimately assist you in gaining valuable coverage. In addition to this, you have to know your press, and develop the all-important target list of where to distribute your material to.
When you do, there are some good techniques that can help you to get your message out in the best possible way. One method is something that I like to call the “Sandwich Technique”. This involves pitching, planting and placing. Sometimes it’s wise to contact an editor or producer or other booking person ahead of time, and run your idea by him or her first before sending that person anything, and at other times it may be a better idea to just distribute your information and then follow-up to see where you stand. You may just have to weigh this out. Follow-through can be extremely important. Sometimes a “no” can be turned into a “yes”, but it’s all in the personal style in which you handle things.
There are other important techniques to smart media relations. Maintaining good PR etiquette and developing positive relationships with the press is very vital. So is the value of remaining flexible in our ever-changing world, and being honest, polite and ethical while helping to build images and reputations is another crucial part.
Keep in mind that our society’s demographics have also been under a tremendous change. Women, ethnic and religious groups, or other specialized segments such as the elderly, physically challenged, LGBT populations and students have all had a big voice in many causes, issues and concerns. And both the media and the public relations profession can, and should take all of this into account.
Lastly know that there are many elements and factors that have to combine to make good traditional PR work. It is not something that is tangible. Coverage is never guaranteed. And it doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. Even though you may receive positive media breaks, you have to realize that it may not lead to a line of people banging on your door. You have to work it.
Part of your PR plan should be to incorporate solid marketing techniques to assist you in gaining more mileage. Posting media coverage to your website, Facebook page, or offering links and YouTube videos can certainly be a plus. But when it works, there’s nothing like it. The value of consistent media and press coverage can’t be taken lightly. It all helps you to tell your unique story – and to get the word out about it in the best possible way. Many people agree that the benefits of free coverage in the media are truly worth their weight in gold – and that it is considered a great “third-party” endorsement when you receive pick-up in this way.
Naturally social media and the technology to carry it out is now a very big part of the public relations mix, and can certainly be used to accompany the effort. But by knowing the traditional tried-and-true PR techniques and methods that have certainly stood the test of time, you will never be too far off the mark, or ever go wrong that way.