PR Pros: Are You Pleasing the Right Client?

25 02 2014

A young corporate PR person we’ll call “Joe” was working on his very first project for the company’s CEO. Joe was a bit leery about turning his work over to the CEO without having some kind of safety net. So, he asked a few of the company’s vice presidents to review the piece.

Knowing it was for the CEO, each VP offered Joe some suggestions as to what each thought the CEO wanted. And one VP spent an hour with Joe, overwhelming him with a detailed discourse, complete with back up charts, graphs and documents, to support his views of what he thought the CEO really wanted.

Armed with this new perspective, Joe completely re-wrote the piece. After having it proofread by a colleague, he took it up to the CEO’s office. A short while later, the CEO’s administrative assistant summoned the PR rookie back up to the executive suite.

Joe beamed proudly, sure that the CEO was going to praise his brilliant work.

Instead, the CEO began to berate him for missing the mark so badly. Joe was crestfallen.

Joe tried to explain how he had run the piece by the VPs and how he had incorporated their insight and followed their direction. Shaking his head slowly, the CEO said something that Joe would never forget.

“Son, you’re new here so I’m going to give you some advice. There are a lot of people here you CAN make happy … but there is only one person here that you HAVE to make happy.”

Accepting reviews, input and insight from others is good, but if you focus on that ONE person that is the ultimate client, you’re more likely to hit the mark … and advance your career.

Never Lose Your Keys: Tips for Developing Strong Key Messages

18 02 2014

Image(Guest post by Kayla Brown, Intern)

Good communicators don’t just wing it! When you have a concise, powerful idea of what you want to say about your company or product, your audiences are more likely to be engaged, more likely to understand you and more likely to remember you. In order for that to happen it is imperative to take the time to prepare and develop strong key messages.

What Are Key Messages?

Simply put, they describe how and why you exist as a company. The goal is to have your audiences understand the same basic message. Well-crafted messages should be tailored to the specific audience and also support your mission, explain what your company is aiming for and include a call to action.

One way to think of it is, what are the main points you want your audiences to remember?

To Be Effective, Key Messages Should Be:Image

  • Few in number, usually three or four;
  • Simple, short and concise;
  • Compelling and believable;
  • Focused on one idea each; and
  • Written down and practiced.

How to Create Strong Key Messages:

Remember the “Who”: Think about who you want to receive your message, and what’s important or of interest to them?

Do You Have Data on That?: Use brief, credible, easy-to-understand facts with figures and statistics to back them up.

Test It Out: Your key messages do not flow off the tongue easily, rework them.

In a nutshell, you should start any form of communication with your key messages, return to them throughout, and then summarize them at the end.

Key Message Examples:

Social Media Company:

  • Foursquare turns your life into a game.
  • Foursquare helps you discover new places.
  • Foursquare lets you make the most of where you are.

Technology Company:

  • 3M is a diversified technology company.
  • 3M applies innovation systematically to anticipate and respond to customer needs.
  • 3M is a global company with local presence throughout the world.

Keys to Success – Seven PR Practices to Follow

12 02 2014

(Guest post by Chad Van De Wiele, Intern)

In nearly every field, professionals are continuously searching for the keys to success – a short-cut to business savvy that otherwise only develops through years of practice.

Although no one has all the answers – because we’re all still learning – we’re sharing a list of practices every PR professional should follow, adapted from Steven CV FBCovey’s influential book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.”

Here are seven simple practices to help every PR professional succeed:

Be proactive – As opposed to waiting for new opportunities, successful professionals create them. One way to do this is to identify “spark events” – or emerging changes and activities within an organization, market or industry that stimulate consumer need for a product. Use these opportunities to create new content, engage an audience and attract new customers.

Look at the bigger picture – It’s easy to get carried away while developing a program or campaign, but successful PR pros begin with the end in mind. As a quick reminder, ask yourself these questions: What are we hoping this campaign will achieve?

Get organized – Juggling multiple assignments from internal or external multiple clients with multiple deadlines is risky business, even for the seasoned PR professional. So, how do you alleviate this chaos? Prioritize tasks based on their level of importance and tackle each assignment systematically.

Think win-win – Networking is essential for any business professional, and for the PR pro, this is especially true. However, business relationships must be forged on mutually beneficial terms in order to work successfully. Prior to making a request for either yourself or your client, think of how the partnership can benefit both parties.

Do your homework – Instead of blindly pitching a client’s story, do some digging: What types of stories does that reporter typically look for? What have they published in the past? What are their interests? A little effort goes a long way in media relations.

Work together – Public relations is a collaborative effort, and accepting your role within a team is crucial. Remember: successful public relations is the result of successful teamwork.

Stay sharp – As communication tools continue to update and transform, so too should the practices of PR pros. Commit yourself to a lifetime of learning, and know there is always more to learn from other people, other industries and other disciplines.

Does Your Content Have the X Factor?

5 02 2014

If you Google the term “Content Marketing” you get more than 1 billion hits. That’s 1,000,000,000+ … and the number continues to grow hourly.

CONTENT is the biggest thing in marketing today. Every company wants it. Every agency is selling it. And every person with a smartphone, tablet or laptop can create it.

Content is everywhere, partially because it is so easy to createanyone with an internet connection can be a content publisher — and partially because it’s a lot easier to be your own publisher than to convince another publisher to tell your story for you.  (And of course, for many agencies pushing self-published content, it’s become a low-risk cash cow.)

Unfortunately, most of the business content that is created never finds its target audience. Often, it’s lonelier than the Maytag repairman on Saturday night.


Not because it’s poorly constructed, has weak production values or is feeble at storytelling, but because the focus of the content is off … by just one letter.

People are so enamored with their capability to be “content producers” … so focused on the actual creation process that they forget WHY and WHO they should be creating the content for. The real business purpose behind the content is to attract and engage a specific audience.

The key to that attraction and engagement is conteXt. Webster defines conteXt as the environment, the surroundings or the setting.

To provide conteXt for your content, think about your target audience and ask: Who are they? What’s their situation? Where do they go for information? What are their problems? What do they need? What’s of interest to them? What are their beliefs? What do they value? Who do they believe?

If you let the X factor of conteXt drive your content … if you focus on your audience’s situation, instead of your own … you’ll have more success.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 105 other followers