Four Reasons Publicist is a Dirty Word

 

By Julie Wright —President
Twitter: @juliewright


Has your mom ever used your childhood nickname in front of your adult friends? That’s how I feel when someone uses the term publicist or publicity to describe my work.

Generating positive media coverage is definitely among the many functions performed by a public relations professional. But the word “publicist” says nothing of the research, strategy, messaging and many other thoughtful, and even artful, activities that go into a successful public relations program. The word, in my opinion, minimizes my work.

For that reason, I would like to see “publicist” buried next to “flack” and “spin doctor.”

Public relations professionals are strategic communicators.

Two years ago, PRSA’s 2017 Chair, Jane Dvorak, addressed the PRSA Western District Conference in Riverside, Calif. urging attendees to see themselves as leaders, strategists and analysts. To my ear, “publicist” is a label that says none of those things. Two years later, I continue to hear this term applied to describe work that is only about 10-20 percent producing media coverage.

If you’re not convinced that “publicist” needs to go, give these four points careful consideration, and let me know if they help change your thinking. (If you already agree, these may help you convert or at least educate others.)

1. Publicists Produce Transactions. PR Pros Build Relationships.

We work in a very transactional environment today. Marketing and communications outcomes are boiled down to clicks, likes, links and conversions, but the stakeholders who need to receive your messages are not clicks and conversions—they’re real human beings who crave meaningful emotional connections with other real human beings.

This absolutely includes journalists.

Media databases like Cision and Meltwater make it much easier to build a big list than a targeted one. Journalists become email addresses and not people. Instead of building a relationship with the media, this transactional approach plays a numbers game. Ultimately, when the media gripes about getting a PR pitch addressed to the wrong name or that’s a country mile off the mark, it’s because they’re not being communicated to as human beings.

Public relations requires building understanding, changing perceptions and motivating behaviors and beliefs. Those kinds of outcomes need a relational versus transactional approach, which requires understanding your audiences and treating them as humans. This can be accomplished through surveys, interviews and focus groups and using that information to create personas.

Publicity is just too limiting a term to encompass these approaches.

2. Publicity is a Tactic. Public Relations Requires Strategy.

As public relations professionals, we can’t fulfill our role and responsibilities with a tactical mindset. We must think strategically.

From research to message development and testing to creative—strategy drives the choices we make, and those choices drive our campaign results. Did we communicate in a manner that earned our audience’s attention and resonated with them so that their perceptions, beliefs and behaviors were impacted?

I equate publicity with none of the above. Instead, I picture someone producing a bunch of press clippings which is useful if stroking your client’s ego is the only goal of your campaign.

3. A Publicist’s Communication is One-Way. PR Requires Listening.

There is far more pitching, posting and publishing than listening on social media and the web these days. I like the term coined by Mark Schaefer five years ago, Content Shock, to sum up the impact of content marketing run rampant. Schaefer pointed out then how the pace and volume of content being produced far exceeded the pace and volume of content being consumed.

Anyone today who is pushing content or a message without creating a way for the recipient to engage, respond and be heard is missing a huge opportunity to build relationships.

Communicators who create space for their stakeholders to be heard are the ones doing it right. When a crisis hits, they’ll be able to engage in conversations with their customers or investors rather than an avalanche of angry or outraged Tweets and Facebook posts.

The brands that weather crises more easily than others are those that have built relationships and goodwill with their stakeholders. And those are the brands being stewarded by strategic communicators and not publicists.

4. Publicity is About Earned Media. Public Relations Crosses All Media.

A decade ago, traditional media outlets underwent an implosion, while podcasts, online videos, blogs and social media storytelling platforms exploded. In the aftermath of these two trends, traditional media gatekeepers like the daily newspaper or evening newscast have lost their ability to influence public perception at scale.

Earned media was once the bread and butter of the public relations function, but today, it is just one of several communication platforms our profession employs to reach and engage with its stakeholders.

The contemporary integrated approach, sometimes referred to as the PESO Model, combines paid, earned, shared and owned media. Paid media can include social media ads and boosting or Google AdWords. Earned media includes press coverage but can include analyst relations, awards and speaking opportunities that imply and/or impart third-party validation. Shared media refers to social networks like Facebook but also review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. Owned media describes all of the creative assets at your disposal to engage your audiences and to interact with them directly including print, digital and multimedia content.

Publicity is a component of only one of those four platforms, making it an inadequate label for describing what today’s strategic communicators do.

So, Let’s Retire the Term Publicist and Champion the Role of Strategic Communicator.

It’s time to toss this transactional, tactical, and out-of-touch term. It’s old school and perpetuates a narrow stereotype of what public relations today actually is. Publicity is about as apropos to what my team and I do every day at (W)right On Communications as my childhood nickname is to my adult identity. Now, if only I could get my mom to stop calling me Oobies.

(W)right On Launches “The Strategist”

The Strategist Newsletter

The first quarter of 2018 was a roller-coaster ride for communicators grappling with Facebook’s big changes and PR troubles. We’ve strapped in and are waiting to see where its twists and turns take us next. But, in the meantime, Facebook gave us a timely topic for the first issue of our new publication, The Strategist newsletter.

Get our newsletter to stay in the know

(W)right On Communications launched The Strategist newsletter as a service to clients and friends last week. It’s a bite-sized serving of what’s new, now and next in communications.

Each issue, we tackle a subject of big-time interest to brands and communicators. We share our own professional experiences, links to the best articles from our industry reading and relevant content from our own writings and presentations.

So, we invite you to subscribe to the The Strategist newsletter. You’ll also find the subscription pop-up window here on our website.

Read our inaugural issue

In case you missed it, we’ve provided a link to our first issue here.

In it, we shared a roundup of recommended reading on Facebook. These include:

WOC Strategist newsletter

Our team manages multiple Facebook pages for our clients. And it has been an interesting time. Our experience has shown that Facebook’s changes are beneficial to businesses and nonprofits who have cultivated dedicated local followings. When page managers engage their followers with “throwbacks,” heartfelt content and smart boosting and targeting, Facebook is an incredibly productive platform.

We would love to hear your feedback

Please drop us a line. Let us know what kind of content you’d like to see tackled in a future issue of The Strategist.  Send your requests to editor@wrightoncomm.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Why engage Millennials in philanthropy? Here are 4 good reasons

By Kat Beaulieu—HR Communications Strategist

Twitter: @stubborngoat.com


There is a too common perception among donor-reliant nonprofits that targeting Millennials with fundraising efforts is a waste of time and resources. If the big donations tend to come from the bequests and corporations associated with older audiences, why put effort into trying to reach Millennials?

Engaging Millennials to support your nonprofit organization can have far-reaching benefits that positively impact your bottom line.

Here are four crucial reasons to reach out to them.

  1. Millennials are now the nation’s largest living generation.

That alone should be enough incentive. What business plan ignores the largest living demographic? A short-sighted one, that’s what. Through their sheer numbers, Millennials can make social media posts go viral, providing a tremendous awareness boost to charitable giving campaigns. Just look at the reach of initiatives like #GivingTuesday. And as a direct result of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which took social media by storm, scientists discovered a new ALS gene.

  1. Because there are so many of them, Millennials are in tough competition for jobs.

Those who want to get ahead understand the value of having volunteer experiences on their resumes. Talented and eager Millennials will work for als ice bucket challenge GIF your organization for free on labor intensive but meaningful activities like events, emails, and social media. This can save your organization time and money. Pair your Millennial volunteer with an experienced individual who will share all the intricacies and nuances of the role. Imagine the awesome results when your paid Volunteer Coordinator explains the complexity of volunteer scheduling and the Millennial researches and implements the latest scheduling software, shaving 10-hours off the Coordinator’s weekly workload.

  1. Millennials want to be part of your boards–they just don’t know they’re invited.

Board appointments are another powerful reference Millennials would love to have on their resumes. Imagine the impact of replacing some of your retiree board members with Millennials. Instead of having people who have nothing to prove, you’d have people who have everything to prove. Again, you need to set them up for success. They’re new at this, so setting clear goals and expectations is key, and assigning a mentor is even better. But the time and cost-saving results of having an enthusiastic Millennial heading up or assisting on a board project can be remarkable.

  1. For Millennials, there is a connection between volunteering and donation amounts.

In fact, by a margin of more than two-to-one, Millennials who volunteer for nonprofits are more likely to make donations. Also, Millennials who form long-term volunteer relationships tend to give larger gifts and encourage friends and family to give and volunteer as well[1]. This means there’s an exponential effect to  kanye west vmas 2015 millennials vanguard award GIFengaging Millennials in volunteer work. Not only will the volunteer work likely lead to donations, but the Millennials will pull their friends and family in too.

These are four good reasons why your nonprofit should be engaging Millennials, but perhaps the most powerful one is that you’ll be benefitting now while building a relationship with future bequestors and corporate decision-makers.

Now that you know the ‘why’ allow us to help you with the ‘how’ to attract and engage Millennials to your nonprofit organization. Get in touch and let’s get the conversation started!

[1] 2012 Millennial Impact Report, by Achieve.

Influencing the C-Suite: 3 Tips for B2B Influencer Marketing

By Aisha Belagam

Twitter: @AishaBelaPR


Fashion bloggers jet setting to tropical destinations wearing the trendiest floral prints. Genetically blessed Instagram influencers promoting weight loss pills after an early morning session at Equinox. From selfies to flat-lays, these are the types of personalities and formats that typically come to mind when you hear the term ‘influencer’. But these personalities won’t do much for your B2B marketing strategy.

American Idol business jennifer lopez american idol american idol xiii GIFAs with B2C, B2B influencer marketing is about connecting with influential people in your community and leveraging them to build trust and credibility, driving your message. In this digital age, where social media is becoming a regular part of everyone’s lives, influencer marketing is becoming a vital part of the communications strategy. And yes, you can and should use it for B2B companies. The C-Suite is engaged on social media and 84% of CEOs and VPs say they use social media to help make purchasing decisions. Here are three tips to consider when developing your B2B influencer marketing strategy:

1. Where are they and who do they look to?

Who and what influences your target audience? Don’t get deflected by focusing on who has the most followers. A million followers do not necessarily equate to a huge influence on your target audience. This isn’t a popularity contest. Plus, upcoming thought leaders are more likely to have the capacity to pay attention to your brand. Focus on influencers who receive a large amount of engagement on topics relevant to your vertical. These are the thought leaders you’re looking for. The analysts, industry experts, authors, speakers, and media folk who are actively involved in industry discussions, leading the way with their expert insight and educated opinions. You’ll find most of them on LinkedIn and Twitter.

       2. Look within

Who understands your brand better than your team? No one. That’s why you should leverage the CEO, employees, and clients as part of your strategy.

Employee advocacy is a powerful thing. Encourage your employees to promote your brand, whether it’s through social posts and blogs, at speaking opportunities, or by getting involved at industry events. Empower those with the most knowledge, the ones who work on your brand daily, to become the thought leaders opining and engaging, increasing your brand’s visibility.

C-level executives are an integral way for B2B brands to make a personal connection. They are the thought leaders bringing the brand to life. Using C-level executives is a key way to build relationships with analysts and the media, increasing coverage and establishing credibility.

Share results. Success stories from your customers can be packaged into consumable case studies, infographics, and testimonials. It’s great to have your team promoting your brand, but there is an obvious bias. Your customers, on the other hand, don’t have the same stake in your company and their experiences add a layer of authenticity.

      3.  Don’t just promote your own agenda

Build a real relationship with your influencers so they are engaged before you need them. It’s a two-way street. Think about how you can help them while promoting your brand. Reference them as experts, quote them in your blog posts, give them access to your products or services, engage with their social content, and stay top of mind. When the time comes, they will be more familiar with you and more likely to go the extra mile to help your brand.Empire FOX music love happy best GIF

Influencers can help a B2B brand through numerous channels. Think about your goals and identify what your brand needs. Influencers can do everything from collaborating on social content to hosting a webinar, from being an ambassador at your tradeshow to quoting you in their latest interview.

As interest in traditional forms of advertising plummets, influencer marketing is becoming a more important part of the integrated strategy. Collaborating with influencers in the ways outlined above can help your brand become more influential in itself.

Want to learn how your brand can leverage influencer marketing? Drop us a line. With proven influencer marketing results with national brands in both the B2B and B2C sector, we can work with you to develop and implement an integrated strategy that brings your brand targeted, measurable results.

Marketing Meets Dating

By Ronda Williams—Marketing and Administrative Coordinator

Twitter: @R_Williams11


Let’s cut to the chase and dive into the juicy stuff! If you haven’t noticed, dating and marketing have a lot of similarities. The two worlds could almost be walking hand-and-hand. Let’s see why marketing and dating make a great pair.

Marketing meets Dating…

When you think of that first date, what comes to mind? When you think about marketing for a new client or company, what comes to mind? You guessed it, branding!

Branding… funny mad men advertising social marketing GIF

Business Dictionary defines branding as, “The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind.” 

You must first know your brand before developing a strategy. Identifying who and what the brand is in your market should be a key component. Your brand while dating is crucial as well! “First impressions are everything,” is what you should think about when preparing for that first date or new business venture.

eharmony advises these three basics to make a first good impression:

  1. Dress well (Custom brand design)
  2. Personal grooming (Choosing your target audience)
  3. Arrive early or on time (Timing the brand launch perfectly)

Strategy…Image result for strategy

According to the
book, “Marketing Insights from A to Z” strategy is, “the glue that aims to build and deliver a consistent and distinctive value proposition to your target.”

Developing a marketing strategy that is customized and unique is a goal that we strive to achieve for our client partners. As a marketing expert, you not only want to deliver wins for your client but you also want to create a trusting relationship with their audience.

Dating is all about finding a winning strategy to land that special man or woman! Playing hard to get might be a part of your strategy or waiting two days before calling. Whatever your strategy is while dating I’m sure you have one.

Physical Attraction…

When making the decision about who to date, most people encounter the question of, “is there attraction present?”

Madeleine A Fugère Ph.D. says, Physical attractiveness may serve as a gatekeeper directing us toward partners who are healthy and age appropriate.”

With that said, dating someone that you have no attraction to is not a good idea.G1ft3d art glitch glitch art g1ft3d GIF

Physical attraction in marketing is being able to develop content that will attract your target audience for that brand of interest.

Darren Pitt, a Social Media Lead Generation Specialist for LinkedIn says, “an effective attraction marketing system requires you as an internet marketer to offer information that will attract potential customers with an aim of establishing your expertise in a particular niche.”

Now that you have a little taste of how marketing and dating make a great pair, I hope you will be incorporating these into your next marketing opportunity or that spring fling!

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me via email at: Twilliams@wrightoncomm.com or (858) 755-5411. Happy relations!

To follow (W)right On Communications click below!

No Shortcuts to PR Glory, Then or Now

By Julie Wright—President and Founder

Twitter: @JulieWright


How PR Worked Before the Internet…

I started out in PR before the Internet or email. It was the era of fax machines, the Yellow Pages and 400-page media directories that you combed through to research and build your media lists. There were few shortcuts on the way to mastering your PR skills, but in some ways, all of today’s technology and automation tools might actually be shortchanging entry-level PR people and getting in the way of developing PR fundamentals.

Back in the day, once you had your list built, you then had to call each reporter until they picked up the phone and then use your verbal skills to hold their attention more than eight seconds to pitch your story. Those calls helped you develop a thick skin, fast. That real-time feedback taught you which approaches worked or didn’t.

Unfortunately, in today’s email environment, you’ll never really know what they loved or hated about your pitch. (Unless you follow @smugjourno or @DearPR to monitor Tweets from journalists losing their s*** after being addressed with the wrong name for the 10th time in one day, sent another off-topic pitch, distastefully news-jacked or sent a 120 mb attachment.)

In the pre-email era, entry-level PR pros had to work the phones but that process made us better, faster.

We had another tool beside the phone. It was called the fax machine. Part of paying your dues was standing over one feeding it hard-copy press releases with your fingers crossed, hoping to hear the modem answer. (If you don’t know what a modem sounds like, it’s kinda like a DubStep drop.) That sound let you know that your brilliant press release was transmitting.

http://img.memecdn.com/father-of-dubstep_o_166238.jpg

If you were sending a fax to a busy newsroom, you could often expect repeated busy signals and multiple attempts to get your press release through. Faxes could only be sent one at a time. You could punch in several fax numbers, but they’d be delivered sequentially and not simultaneously.

Think about that, for a moment.

You, literally—and I mean literally–experienced the sensation of your pitch colliding and competing for bandwidth with other pitches. The idea that your pitch was one of hundreds being sent to an outlet or reporter was not just a concept. It was something you actually heard and saw.

Anyhow, damn. Those days could be a real grind. Some labor-intensive, inglorious work. Like walking uphill both ways to and from school. But it was just what you had to do so you did it.

So, here’s my point: While the tools may have changed, I honestly do not think that the fundamentals have.

PR still requires an awful lot of legwork to do right and over the past quarter century, I have found that there is no substitute for that hard work—particularly as you are starting out. Generating a Twitter following, mastering Facebook’s algorithm, researching blogs for your thought leadership project—it’s a different grind, but to succeed you’ve got to do the work.

jw-quote

The practices I learned in the early 90s as an entry-level Gen Xer gave me sound fundamentals. It was a methodical process—detailed, diligent and it kept you close to your media contacts. You worked hard to find each contact and cultivate it. You knew the value of each contact and sent your pitches out into the world with each recipient in mind.

If I wanted to target my client for a radio interview, I had to listen to that radio show. If I wanted a trade or consumer magazine to feature my client’s project, I had to read the magazine. There was no website to consult or Google to search.

You had to be dialed into your media list, totally aware of who each contact was and why the hell they’d want to do a story on your news. I think this is one of those basics that has been lost in the race to automate our work, and it is the bane of the remaining working journalists who are inundated with off-topic email pitches. It’s also the bane of PR professionals who know that it takes time to do this job right but get pressure from clients who think PR is just distributing press releases to massive lists.

What Can You Do Today for Maximum Career Growth & Success?

What would happen to your pitching skills and PR instincts if you adopted these old school practices. What if you voraciously consumed the very same media you were expected to earn coverage in? What if you approached every single media contact on your media list like a wedding guest—knowing their background, your relationship to them, whether they’d want the ribeye or the vegetarian option and who they’d want to sit with?

I tell you what. You’d be successful. You’d be a rock star.

In today’s environment of cheap, plentiful and immediate information, taking pains to research and document each entry in your media list probably makes you feel like you’re doing it wrong.

Stifle that impulse. Take the time. If you have a passion for communications and telling great stories, then focus on your fundamentals. Do what might feel like drudgery. It’s called paying your dues. We all did it. If we wanted it, then we did it.

So if that’s you, don’t miss the opportunity to shine because it looks like hard work.

Put that extra care and attention into your work. Invest extra time in your day for attending a webinar to build your knowledge. Spend a little extra time every day reading up on your industry and talking to the more experienced people on your team about what you’re learning to get their take and advice.

And for god’s sake, show up. Network with journalists, other PR professionals, peers and business leaders. Volunteer on a committee so you can practice your leadership skills outside of the office to get more confident contributing during team and client meetings.

It may sound old-timey but work hard, pay your dues, take chances with your new knowledge and you will get noticed and rise quickly. I assure you, don’t be afraid to do these things for you will have one of the most exhilarating and rewarding careers imaginable.