Five fundamentals of public relations that still hold true

June 29, 2010
Media watching TV on Mitsubishi’s new 3-D sets

Last week was an exciting one here at Gregory FCA. We deployed teams of professionals to media events throughout the country to handle a number of client programs. Friday’s end-of-week debrief meeting was pretty intense with everyone sharing what worked and what didn’t out in the field.

As teams presented, I realized that the more things change in public relations, the more things stay the same and some fundamentals always hold true. Certainly in the context of live events, social media tools and tactics can easily be leveraged with traditional strategies to amplify the PR effort. And at all our events, our teams were tweeting and posting photos to Flickr and videos to YouTube. But still, a few immutable fundamentals of PR held true, they being:

Media watching TV on Mitsubishi’s new 3-D sets

1. Media events still work. In New York, we pulled off a major coup for our client, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, by managing their media day (actually two days) to showcase their new line-up of 2010 TVs. Even in this day of social media, when some PR practitioners contend that face-to-face is dead, the turnout was unbelievable. Some 60 media people stopped in to learn more about what’s new in TVs. They attended because no matter how mediated communications has become, nothing replaces face time with the media to fully explain a product, technology, direction, or opinion.

2. Satellite media tours are effective for consumer products. We completed one last week for a client that produces a dental sterilization product, and used Hershey Park as the backdrop. The theme, summer travel tips for moms, was ideally timed to summer travel. And the resulting media coverage on TV and radio amounted to placements in well over 100 outlets nationwide, when you factor in the number of syndicated media points that took the feed.

3. Relationships still matter. There was a time when public relations was conducted over lunch between a reporter and a PR person. No one has time for lunch anymore. Yet relationships still matter. By leveraging our combined relationships drawn from everyone in the firm, we vastly increased our footprint. For instance, one senior AE leveraged a five-year-old relationship to entice “Entertainment Tonight” to attend a media event. Treat the media right over the years, and they will reciprocate.

4. Research and product knowledge are keys to telling bright-line stories. For every story, we squeezed as much fact as possible out of the topic to win coverage. For instance, for our New York event, our account team learned everything possible about 3-D TV in order to explain the technology to reporters from media as diverse as Broadcast Engineering to Rolling Stone magazine. By being able to talk the talk, the media realized that this was a can’t-miss event that demanded their attendance.

5. Follow-up is key. One e-mail is not a PR campaign. A news release is often akin to a tree falling in the forest. What works best is constant follow-up to ensure that the news was received, that the event was explained, that attendance is required, and that subsequent stories appear.

So even as the sands of public relations shift under our feet, the fundamentals of our business remain the same. A week-long series of media events proved that point, and won media coverage around the country, all secured the old fashioned way — earned.

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8 years 10 months ago
I am in full agreement with all, especially #5, Greg. In today’s day and age, the industry is relying too much on Outlook, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, you-name-whatever-will-come-next. Do these tools help us, reporters and ultimately our clients? Of course they do. But there are more than 2500 public relations firms globally doing the same thing. People, reporters especially, are dealing with technology overload…but guess what? With all of these technological advances, people have forgotten about picking up the phone and reaching out to touch someone (or some reporter). As some practitioners solely rely social media, and that includes Outlook in… Read more »