News

PR Growth starts with humility

Posted: October 30, 2015

When you get the humility of PR. Then you can become a good PR, a great PR.

By: Keri-Ann Stanton Position: Managing Director Company: Engage Joe Public Twitter: @KAmuses Website: http://engage.joepublic.co.za

When you get the humility of PR. Then you can become a good PR, a great PR. A communicator, a counsel, a guide for your clients and your brands through the fast-paced craziness of Sunday twitter, of Buzzfeed lists and runaway stories that can take you off strategy faster than a Fox journo with no agenda.

Because PR cannot change the world. That’s the truth. It will never be more powerful than advertising. Not until we handle the same budgets. And just like banks and government continue to exist even though they are failing, systems and processes don’t break down overnight. So know your place. And influence from there.

Don’t cry about being excluded from the big boy weekend breakaways where the future of companies is decided. Don’t whine when your budgets get cut for the TV or the activation. Just quietly and simply point out what COULD have been, after the fact. The money that could have been saved, the stock prices that could have been corrected by a mere tweaking of a sentence. The amplification that could have been achieved by a quick phone call to the right person.

I have come across two listed companies of late whose CEO’s do not believe in PR because they get enough coverage on their own merit. Brand and marketing managers inside are trying to get me in. And I am patiently reluctant. Because the power of PR is directly related to the understanding and trust that the CEO puts in PR.

In places where that exists, where my team is given privy to the confidential and sometimes explosive information, we have a better understanding of the bigger picture: a sound base to counsel when to act and when to refrain, when to take on an argument and when to deflect it. It is not spin, it is about a message and a mandate and an outcome: consumer or corporate.

And then there is the humility of doing PR that is right for the brand and the client – not for you, or the award or the extra-billing. And only once you have got that right can you claim your place or space in this crazy marketing industry.

How? Give me the brief. Tell me what you want this product or service to do by when. For whom and with what budget. Let me review your research and your strategy (if it exists or let’s work on it together). Give me a heads up on the creative, the hashtag (you’d be surprised what a PR can pick up on). Let me look at your media plan and then, only then, let me tell you what CAN be done to achieve those goals and how we can measure that success – because the wonderful thing about PR is that it is measurable (and I exclude AVE’s from this conversation).

Then take a breath and let your PR show you what COULD be done – and with PR budgets making up sometimes less than 10% of an entire campaign budget, surely this is the place to be brave and courageous?

Because, with humility, a good PR campaign will have sense-checked the research, the creative, the messaging, the media against what’s happening out there in the real world... and it would show you the buttons to push, safeguard you against the ones you don’t and guide you through the possibilities.

That’s where PR starts. The basics. It’s called public relations after all.