PR needs to promote its creative side
Advertising agencies are known as the hot houses of big ideas and creativity. What few realise is that the same can be said about public relations firms.
Time and again, public relations agencies don’t promote the creative work they do. In fact, PR firms are often so busy working to raise awareness for clients that they seldom remember to generate the same level of awareness for themselves.
The public relations industry needs to promote itself as a big-picture creative strategist, the engine-room of lateral thinking.
Innovative ideas are at the core of the most successful media campaigns. Creativity in PR may not have the same visibility as Clemenger BBDO’s acclaimed NAB Break-up ad campaign, but nonetheless the impact of a creatively-driven PR campaign has incredible power and reach.
This was demonstrated in The Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) campaign that Porter Novelli launched last year. The objective was to attract more visitors to the museum. Based on this broad brief, Porter Novelli put its creative hat on.
The vision was to create an environment where people could come together and share their experiences of democracy. From this, the idea of a series of speaker events – Uncensored Conversations – came to life.
By pushing traditional boundaries with the choice of speakers, Porter Novelli extended the appeal of MoAD and helped more Australians understand what democracy means in today’s society.
The strength of this campaign was in the seamless integration of social media, audio and video multimedia to drive awareness and ultimately traffic to the museum.
We need to get past the generalisation that a great PR person is someone who has such great relationships with journalists that they can position any story.
PR is so much more than this. It’s a perception issue the public relations industry has to address in order to extend its role in the future.
An Open Letter To Bloggers
Mummy bloggers are growing at a rapid rate in Australia.
There are more than 2,000 mummy bloggers nationally, and to provide a one stop shop to help educate Mums how to build their blogs into businesses the Mummy Bloggers Blog was launched 1 March 2011.
I was invited to contribute an Open Letter to Bloggers from a PR perspective to help bloggers understand our place in this sphere.
This was first published here
I’ve been working in PR at Porter Novelli Melbourne for three years, on campaigns for Walt Disney Studios, Rubbermaid, Coles Supermarkets, Stahmann Farms and many others.
What I have to say here is about our workplace; I can’t vouch for others in my industry.
Bloggers vs Media
About two years ago we started really reaching out to bloggers, in recognition of the growing value and influence, particularly of Mummy bloggers.
Even a couple of years ago Australian blogging was relatively uncharted, and many PR people made the mistake of approaching bloggers in the same way as print, broadcast or other online media.
The rise of email has made it easy to overlook the art and value of building relationships, personalising contact and doing research to make sure we’re approaching the right people with the right ideas.
Paid vs Earned media
Most brand companies have a number of marketing services suppliers, and that usually includes a media buying agency as well as a PR agency. The media buying agencies plan, negotiate and book ad space. For bloggers, these are the people who work with Nuffnang and pay for sponsored reviews.
In other media, this would be declared as “advertorial” or “sponsored” content.
Much of our PR business is to earn media attention.
In principle, we don’t pay for media space.
We work with journalists and bloggers to identify information that’s worth telling other people about.
It’s not that we don’t believe your work isn’t worth paying for; it’s that content that stands on its own two feet has greater integrity and authenticity than content that is paid for.
More brands understand the influence you wield, but they are still uncomfortable putting their ideas into an uncontrolled environment that where they can’t dictate what’s said or the dialogue that follows.
Paying bloggers to write reviews allows them to feel they have some control, but readers see this for what it is: paid media. Advertising.
PR companies set out to work with you, to earn your interest, unbiased and unhindered by financial reward.
We should never ask you to change something you’ve written, or ask to see reviews before they are published.
We have no right to do that, and you have no compulsion to do what we might ask.
Your supporters value your thoughts and opinions, and that’s why we want to work with you.
But we do believe we should provide something of value for you if you dedicate time to our campaigns.
To date we’ve never asked for sample products to be returned. I understand for some PR people this can be tricky when dealing with very expensive items, but the principle is the same.
For starters, we will recommend our clients buy banner advertising on blogs.
And, should we ask something a lot larger from a blogger, such as acting as an ambassador for a campaign, we will negotiate a fee, just as we do with brand ambassadors – but we will also declare that commercial interest.
We’ll always work to offer a reader giveaway with a review. But if we can offer you a giveaway, it’s because we fought for it; brands aren’t always willing to give away product. We have to argue the case, but we know giveaways are popular and help drive traffic to the post, so everyone wins.
There are so many “Rules”, “What Not to Do” lists and PR-blogger horror stories.
If we hear somebody here has sent a “Dear blogger” email, it’s not just me who’ll have words with them about it.
This PR/blogger relationship is a new dynamic for us all.
We’re still feeling our way around and working out how to make it work for everybody.
As an example, we’ve had feedback that you don’t want to pay postage for sending out winners’ prizes. So, we’ve taken that back as one of our jobs.
I’ll be at the Aussie Bloggers Conference in Sydney on March 19.
I hope to meet many of you there. Please come and say hi, and I can ask you about life as a blogger, and you can ask me about life in PR. I’m sure we’ll get along fine.
PR in the box seat
In a podcast interview for industry website Mumbrella, I was asked what the priorities were for the Clemenger Group in 2011, from the perspective of our Diversified Marketing Services operations (that is, pretty much anything that’s not a mainstream ad agency).
My response was that a large part of our focus is ensuring we bridge the remaining gaps between the “mainstream”, and the rest, and that nowhere was this more important than the area of public relations.
Having spent most of my career in mainstream ad agencies, I have a fairly well informed understanding of how such operations view public relations.
The last minute call to the PR agency the night before the pitch, with a brief to “PR the idea we’re presenting tomorrow” is not the stuff of legend – it still happens, too frequently.
To be fair, the worlds of advertising and PR have historically not made great efforts to understand each other, and they mostly work with different individuals in the businesses they represent.
And then there’s the issue of the broad definition of “PR”. This can range from the most high-end, often secretive, suited and booted corporate consultancy, involving CEOs and diverse stakeholders, to the most public expressions of a brand’s presence in media and experientially, on the street and point of consumption.
When it comes to ad agencies, it’s most likely this latter area where collaboration opportunities are most apparent.
The good news is that the smart practitioners in brand advertising are seeing that the ability for a great idea to become part of a wider conversation is a great bolster to shift attitudes, behaviours or products.
And who better to encourage and manage a conversation about a great idea than the people from an industry that’s evolved to do just that?
If today’s media landscape can be summed up as an intersecting combination of Paid, Owned and Earned media, it’s the public relations folk in the Earned box seat, but with plenty to offer in both Paid and Owned.
If the time is now, the only question is, what are we doing about achieving the kind of collaboration that is, ridiculously, virtually unknown in the communications industry?
Welcome, hello, now let’s get started.
Porter Novelli Melbourne
Back L-R: David, Briony, Louise, Patrick, Charlie, Emma, Michael, Middle L-R: Nyree, Lauren, Peter, Zoe, Therese, Sarah, Front L-R: Mandy, Carol, Jakob
We’ve made it. Our web transformation is complete, right down to the day we said we would be back.
So let me re-introduce ourselves. We are Porter Novelli Australia. Part of a global public relations team behind some really great stuff. Don’t worry, this blog won’t be all about ourselves, we are here to start a conversation, so make sure you join in.