PR’s Lessons Learned – WPRWD

When this blog was originally launched it was created a my own (semi) private experiment, so now that it is nearing it’s end (Sun Setting on Paul Roberts on PR) here is a quick look at some blogging lessons learned.  and while I refuse to tell anyone how to run their PR program, no self-serving blog would be complete without some ‘how would I do it’ tips.

Anyone in the service industry side of communications (consultants / agency) knows that comms programs are rarely a one-size-fits-all solution, so I’m approaching the following as WPRWD – What PR Would Do – if he (yes, me) were in charge of the corporate communications program.

Don’t ditch that blog. In the last few months especially, there have been many report about the decline of blogging as part of a corporate communications strategy, but I’d encourage companies not to abandon this powerful and highly controlled communications vehicle. There are many ways to do blogging well, and unfortunately there are also even more ways to do it poorly. Acknowledge that blogging is hard and it is important and create a plan accordingly. The key here is to have a  hands-on communications professional that believes in the importance of blogging and can sell it to the necessary thought leaders and stakeholders.

Don’t be a snob about paid media. Especially if you work on the agency side of PR, it is easy to dismiss advatorials and other paid placements as ‘one of those cheesy pay-for-play things.’ But, these are not to be dismissed out of hand. Paying for speaking slots, editorial coverage, report sponsorships etc. may not be in everyone’s budget, but if done properly a little budget can go a long way. The key here is simply to be open to the idea. Experiment with different approaches.

Create content. Despite all the changes in the communications industry over the last few years, one element has and will remain constant. Words are important. Press releases, pitches, posts, tweets, videos, speeches, infographics, whitepapers, content marketing, brand journalism, these all use words. Creating content needs to an emphasis to a communications program. My approach would be to make content creation a specific element of the corporate communication plan. Not run solely by marketing, but a more holistic corporate approach.

Coordination and organization. This sounds simple, but the point being made here is that while many of these tips are about content creation, it needs to be noted that communications is not to be approached as a creative writing exercise. Even the best, most creative and well thought out PR program will fail to reach its full potential if constructed and conducted in a vacuum. The key here is to have a communications professional with insight and influence into ALL aspects of the communications program – marketing, PR, social, internal, external, branding, paid, earned, SEO, sales etc.

Lead PR from within. Just because an organization may outsource its PR, doesn’t mean that the corporate contact isn’t important. No matter how closely an organization works with a PR firm and no matter how good that PR firm is, the PR program can only be as successful as the client will allow. All too often companies believe that anyone can manage the PR function, but that is simply not true. This internal contact is especially important when the PR program includes social media, crisis communications and thought leadership.

Social starts from within. Related to the above social media too should be led from within. All things being equal (budget, time, resources etc.) my approach to social media depending on the size of the company, culture, business goals etc, would be along the lines of hiring a consultant (a good internal comms person can do this too) to provide assessment of the current social media activities, draft a indoctrination plan to recruit and train / provide guidelines to employees and then get out of the way. A corporate comms controlled Twitter feed alone isn’t social.

And finally, a couple of quick reminders.

  • It is okay to fail. Sometimes, the best lessons learned come from trying something new that doesn’t work out. Communications is changing too rapidly right now to be overly conservative. Calculated risks are okay. Experimenting is okay. Not all ROI is immediate.
  • Have some fun. Relax. Communications is serious business, but it is also about people, relationships, information exchange etc. Even the most serious companies would be well served to have communications people who are personable and dare I say, have a sense of humor.
  • When in doubt, ask What Would PR Do?
  • In the immortal words of Dwayne F. Schneider, always remember and don’t ever forget, free advice (like this blog) is often worth exactly what you paid for it, so take all free advice with a grain of salt.

Photo comes from private collection that my son dared me to use in a blog post. 

  1. July 13, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Can’t believe you’re not already gone; great to see a few final posts to send you off! Paul, please GP at my house? I’d like you to write about when a blogger knows it’s time to hang up the hat…so many people forcing themselves to blog; we can’t do that. It has to be a love fest which comes with some hate, too!

    That said, the above tips are spot on; blogging is not dead and it’s not for the feint of heart or is that faint of heart? Anyhoo, corporate blogging takes a dedicated counselor to focus, focus on goals and strategy.

    Now, go back to enjoying your summer. Miss you.

    • July 13, 2012 at 5:48 pm

      I know, right?! How can you miss me if I won’t go away. I promise, just one last stop on my extended farewell tour.

      Thanks for all of your support. I’ll take you up on your guest post offer. Pencil me in for something in September, because I’m really taking the rest of the summer off. Seriously, I would love to pen the post for your blog. I’ll be in touch.

  2. July 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Great words of advice! It’s especially helpful to know these come from someone who has experienced the “real” working world. Hope you are having a great summer so far and I’ll keep enjoying your blog and look forward to hearing from you now and then on the social sphere 🙂

    • July 13, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      Thank you Krista. Sometime I think I’ve experienced too much ‘real PR working world. Hope all is well with you.

  3. July 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Paul – awesome post, again. I for one can’t fathom an industry without a voice/blog like this. Granted you’re dishing out free advice, which as you noted is worth what you pay for, but you always hone in on the right questions and make solid recommendations in each and every post. Great read and reminders for new and sage PR/comms pros alike. Hope you’re having an awesome summer!

    -Don J.

    • July 13, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      Many thanks Don. You are too kind. I really do appreciate how supportive you’ve been. I hope you too are having a good summer. Talk soon.

  1. July 13, 2012 at 12:04 pm

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