Three Trends Driving Demand for PR Now

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I attend a lot of business networking events and talk to a lot of smart, experienced and educated people who are on top of industry trends. I also enjoy talking to people who have just a little work experience. Sometimes the ones who have only a couple of years of work under their belts are more in the know about what’s hot and what’s not. 

The Silicon Valley Public Relations Society of America Future of PR round table earlier this year in East Palo Alto was excellent with Facebook, Dell and others on the panel, as was a meeting I recently had with Global Fluency, a marketing communications and strategy firm headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif. That firm runs the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council.

I used to work at Global Fluency in the early 90s when it was called something else. It was awesome to touch base with Donovan Neale-May who runs both Global Fluency and the CMO Council again after such a long time. The firm seems to be doing just fine and has evolved over the years along with the market.  It was great to see that Executive VP Dave Murray is still there and doing well.

Additionally, I enjoyed the Silicon Valley International Association of Business Communications (SV-IABC) event on gamification in Santa Clara in November.

I took notes at all of these gatherings and have put together the top three trends driving for PR now.

1. The new IR is influencer relations. 

There’s a new acronym in town. It’s IR. No, not investor relations. I mean influencer relations. Because so many people blog now, from large corporations executives and industry analysts to consumers posting on Yelp, organizations should be focused on influence and not necessarily “press relations,” “analyst relations,” or “client relations.” Typically the acronym for external relations is public relations but the term is often misused.

 Public relations actually means “changing someone’s mind.” But over the years, most of us in PR mostly came to know it as press relations.

I advise that all communications departments at organizations globally reorganize their staff and put all of their PR and external communications people in a group called influencer relations. Rumor has it that SAP done a bit of this already and if that’s true, good for them. Nice job IBM for calling its PR team “external relations” because that is a nice start in moving in the direction of the trend.

2. Content marketing is white hot. 

In order to gain attention and make noise in a crowded market place, companies must focus on being great content creators and communicators. It’s called content marketing. They need to hire people who can come up with timely and interesting content.  People with a journalism background do great at this task. Kudos to Global Fluency’s Dave Murray for his recent white paper related to this topic. Here’s the link:  http://www.globalfluency.com/news/index.html

3. Digital marketing is top of mind.

CMO Council and a partner firm recently released a survey (http://tinyurl.com/cckvb3e) that said, among other things, that the thing that most marketers are concerned about is digital marketing. Digitizing everything is a “modern” communications task and it’s an interesting change from decades ago when we just had to hire a graphic designer, write some prose, slap them together, get them printed and mail everything to the intended audience.

I believe the CMO Council survey was much more complicated and meaningful than my summary here, but that was still my key take away from it.

Today the communications expert or marketer creates smart and interesting content and then digitizes it so it can be properly socialized.

It’s wild when you think about communications 20 years ago versus today. Back then, you’d fax a press release to your top 10 reporters or mail a hard copy invitation to 100 customers. Today, you’d socialize survey results on Youtube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and use the online invitation tool to get everyone to the party.

The funny thing is, I remember asking someone 20 years ago, “What did we do before faxes?”
My 12-year-old who is now begging me for his own Youtube account just asked me, “What’s a fax?”

If you want to keep up on the latest trends, join me and my other IABC colleagues at our March 21st luncheon at Michael’s at Shoreline in Mountain View, Calif. I’m a director with the SV-IABC and I personally invite you to come.  It’s not free but it’s also not expensive and the networking benefits are priceless.

This month’s speakers will talk about the pros and cons of consulting for a big IT corporation. To register, visit: http://www.sv.iabc.com/

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MMC PR Blog — The Secret to Phenomenal PR Results

The definition of public relations is “changing someone’s mind.”  This is my specialty and it’s what we do at my new consulting firm, MMC high tech public relations.

I convince people to change their ways or think differently. The main way I do this is on a large scale, through media outlets example. This, of course, is called press, media or influencer relations.

One of my business mentors said something profound that always stuck with me. It’s that great PR is based on logic.

How do you change people’s minds? How do you get great press? You develop relationships with your audience, understand their attitudes and communicate your message in a way that they understand and that has impact.

This is just logic, right? I happen to have a journalism degree and a major in public relations with more than two decades of experience in this area, having spent 16 years at IBM and at several public relations agencies. But if you had the right mindset you could become a great PR pro without all of this experience

A journalist needs to write timely and interesting stories and is often on tight deadlines. Ask yourself. How can what I’m doing, or saying fit into what they are writing about?

For example, phablets are hot right now according to several top IT media outlets including CNET. Do you have a new solution for phablets?  Can you speak intelligently about this topic so that you might be quoted in a story?

By the way, a phablet is a combo phone and tablet. You can think of it as a giant smartphone or a smaller tablet, smaller than an iPad.

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One example of a PR tactic is being able to talk about how phablets are changing the workplace. They somehow need to be related to one of your offerings of course. If your solution has nothing to do with mobile computing, you probably want to try something different.

The secret to phenomenal PR is creating awesome messages and materials that contain a simple thought or idea.  Announcing new “mission critical software to solve your financial business problems” isn’t newsworthy or interesting to a journalist unless it has a super interesting twist like, “Oh by the way, Apple and IBM merged and this is the first product result of the pairing.”  That type of “Wow” news doesn’t need a ton of creativity to get press coverage.

The idea you tie to your PR campaign can be linked to industry trends, for example, here are two from a December 7, 2012 Forbes article by Todd Woody.

  • “Mobile Device Battles Mobile devices will pass PCs to be most common Web access tools. By 2015, over 80% of handsets in mature markets will be smart phones.”
  • “Personal Cloud: The cloud will be center of digital lives, for apps, content and preferences. Sync across devices. Services become more important; devices become less important.”

Ask yourself, what are you doing that relates to personal cloud or mobile devices surpassing PCs to be the most common web tools?  Can you help a journalist with a story on cloud or mobile? There is much more to it as well but at a high level, PR isn’t that complicated.

Link what your company is doing to something that people actually care about and test it out on someone who is not in the tech business. If they find it interesting, then you are on your way to a phenomenal PR campaign.And then hire someone who can get the message out and develop relationships for you in a quality way.
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