Am I on the right track? Is there a place for introverts in PR?

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Looking back on the reason as why I chose to study Public Relations, I realise now that I should consider myself lucky I actually enjoy the course. I am a firm believer that we unconsciously make future choices based on past events. When we discussed in class about Sex and the city (Samantha Jones, anyone?), I realised that must have had a role in my choice as I watched the show two times.

First year of university passed very fast, I can’t say I understood very well what PR was all about. This year however, the blurred image started to clarify. And as much as I enjoyed the Digital Communication module, I also started to become slightly anxious thinking that maybe PR is not for me.

The Digital Communication module was all about promoting our ideas, getting to know PR  professionals and putting ourselves out there to understand how the industry works. In the course of two weeks, I had a new Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn account and a new Blog to express my ideas regarding PR matters. That might seem only normal for a PR student, but there is an issue: I am an introvert. I felt overwhelmed by the  idea that I needed to start promoting myself.

However, I looked online to see if someone else is facing the same issues. I found numerous articles on the matter and it seems that there are more people like me than I imagined. The only difference is that they are not bothered about the fact that they are introverts.

There are a few  things that I’m taking with me from the numerous blog posts I read:

  1. You don’t need to be a chatterbox to find your place in PR, however, being a good communicator is a must. The good news is that you can be a skilled communicator in writing just as well.
  2. You don’t need to yearn for the spotlight to be a good PR practitioner- there are many other behind-the-scenes roles that can be covered.
  3. To be an introvert is not a flaw, it simply means that you prefer to recharge you
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    Extrovert         vs                Introvert                Picture source: http://ca.citizenrelations.com/why-introvert-and-pr-professional-are-not-mutually-exclusive/#.VpbqrvmLTDc

    batteries by yourself rather than in a crowded place. It also means that you prefer to think before you speak, which in my case means that I’d rather have a very good understanding of what PR is before expressing opinions online.

  4. And most of all, an introvert is a good listener and observer, these are big qualities in an industry like PR where you need to listen to the customers’ needs in order to answer their requests.

I know now that there is definitely a place for me in PR, and I learnt that I don’t need to feel comfortable in the spotlight to be a good PR practitioner.

To end on a positive note, my lecturer told me that even Stephen Waddington confessed that he is an introvert. That should definitely give all of us, introverts, a boost in confidence.

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A glimpse into the future of PR

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Public Relation has yet to prove its importance in the digital world. The future depends entirely on how the practitioners will approach the issue.  Whether they will be what Stella Bayles calls PR Warriors or PR Worriers. So what is the way towards a bright future?

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Source:  http://shoryawards.com/7th/the-future-of-pr-what-if-pr-stood-for-people-and-relationships

In order for the industry to be recognised with the merits it deserves, there need to be changes in the way practitioners are doing business. PR has to show that the industry is an investment rather than an expense for companies. For that to happen, it has to generate sales and learn how to measure the business impact. The practitioners have to learn new skills in order to understand how the digital communication works and incorporate them in the everyday work flow.

The way towards success for PR professionals is to understand that although Media Relations are important, they don’t necessarily apply to today’s customers, therefore they should learn how to approach audiences and earn online coverage for their companies. The customers have become the most important shareholders of a brand. What they believe about the brand is what they are sharing with their network community. Ultimately, the customers are able to make or break the reputation of that brand. The next step for PR is to concentrate on their audiences and communicate with them just as much as they do with the shareholders or with the journalists.

Openness towards big data is necessary in order to identify the influencers and the audiences. This will help understand and respond to the customers’ requirements which will increase the traffic to their companies’ site and which will inevitably bring sales. Although most of the PR practitioners are more likely to have a creative approach to content rather than an analytical one, it is important for them to wider their knowledge in order to keep up with the fast changes that are taking place online.

Looking towards the future, we can already see a convergence between the marketing communications. Sarah Bales considers that the future for PR is to ultimately integrate the owned, paid and earned media to effectively influence the shared media. Therefore, marketing departments should work together with the PR team and have the same objectives, key performance indicators and measurements. Given the fact that the Internet expands everyday and millions of users are continuously joining in, communication needs to be done as effectively as possible. Soon there will not  be a clear separation between the online and offline life, therefore Public Relations needs to step up its game and join the digitised word before it will be outsmarted by digital communication industry.

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Quality content and target audiences

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As I wrote in the last post, markets are conversations and companies should be ready to engage in the two-way communication. Bearing that in mind, PR professionals need to create quality, sharable content to reach the audiences and spark conversations.

How do you create content online?

Internet users have developed over time an online behaviour that doesn’t coincide with the one offline. Given the fact that nowadays people are online most of the time, organisations are learning to change the way their creating the content to appeal to the online mentality.

In order to do that they need to know who their target audience is and what are they interested in.

Who is your target audience?

According to Vikki Chowney, in her article 7 Steps to planning your content strategy, in order to find out who your potential target audience is, you need to map out their behaviours & demographics, explore where they spend their time, their preferences, and what they need. How do you do that? There are now millions of tools available for this, MY #PRSTACK 1 is a very useful book which can introduce you in this new world of searching online data. They are suggesting using Brandwatch as a tool to help understand and listen to the public and Nomis for UK public.

What are they interested in?

As my lecturer, Richard Bailey pointed out, people are interested in cats, food and #thedress not in products, brands and corporate ‘news’.  Therefore, next time you need to promote a product, you include one of the  elements that are likely to make Internet users click on your link. Google is a very easy and fast way to find out what your customers are really interested in. The Google suggestion tool allows you to find out what are the most searched terms when you type in the name of your product. For example, perfume shop seems to be the most looked up when you type in perfume, if you add more terms, like ‘perfume for’ you will find out that users are more interested in ‘perfume for her’ than ‘for him’. For a perfume brand this is a very useful information.

So if you created valuable content that is likely to appeal to the target audience is that it? No. You can have the best content in the world, if nobody sees is, it’s like it never existed. According to Eric Smith cited in the #Brad Vandals “we’re now adding as much new content to the Internet each day as we did from its invention to 2003.” With so much content online, how can you make sure you’re reaching your audience?

How do you reach your audience?how-to-effectively-engage-with-your-target-audience-online-22-728

Citing Vikki Chowney again: “nobody really cares about what you have to say about your own brand.” The most effective way is to find the right influencers and work with them in making your content appealing and interesting for the people in their online community. There are many tools created to help finding communities: Klout, Kred or PeerIndex are just a few of them.

There is not a winning formula that works every time, but PR agencies are learning to create  interesting content to appeal to the Internet users.

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Markets are conversations

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For a long time Public Relations was quite a straight forward job: you had to raise awareness, change the opinion of the public and reach many potential clients. You would do all this by building strong media relations. As we discussed in the last post, this is not enough anymore if PR agencies want to survive in the Digital age. Why? Because the one way communication is a thing of the past, sending your messages to the markets is not enough, you need to be able to carry conversations with the public.

As the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto anticipated more than a decade ago, markets have become conversations. The Internet is allowing the customers to respond to the messages you send their way via social media and not only. If you don’t want to look sloppy and uninterested in what your clients have to say, you need to engage in conversations. This might sound easy, but with so much content available online, the markets have also became smarter, if they want to damage your reputation, they can do it in a matter of minutes.

 

The solution to keep the reputation of your company safe is to stay away from secrets because most of the time  the clients know more than you  about your products. If what you say is real, it will sound real and the audiences you’re trying to reach will be more willing to listen to what you have to say. Since you have nothing to spin around, if you get a bad review, you can engage in a conversation and find out what the real problem is. It is very clearly explained in the Manifesto:

“markets have become networked and now know more than business, learn faster than business, are more honest than business, and are a hell of a lot more fun than business.”

To succeed in these two – way communication, the public relation professionals need to first listen to what the targeted markets have to say and to their requirements. You need to create a relationship with the customers. Exactly like in any other relationship, communication is key. You need to understand what your customers think about you because ultimately that’s what your brand image will be. Gini Dietrich in her book Spin Sucks has quite a lot of good tips on how to efficiently communicate online, in her eyes, communication done well consists of not being defensive, always have well reseached answers, what you say needs to be educational and fact based, always try to answer as quiqly as possible and last but not least: “Social media is unkind. I f you lie, you will be found out. Every time.”

It might sound like a lot of hard work,  and that because it is. However, if you want your brand to be prosperous, you need to give your customers a reason to believe that you are active and you care about their feelings towards your products.

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Digital communication- bad or good for PR?

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The Digital Media revolution has brought major changes on how communication has been conducted. Especially for Public Relations, it seemed like the end of the industry. Given the fact that over the years people have become less and less interested in the traditional mass media, how could PR survive when its main purpose was to make media connections and “earn” headlines in the newspapers for the companies?images

Thanks to Google, there is now grater opportunity for the PR industry to expand than ever before. “Google launched with the purpose of enabling Internet users to find the most relevant content online.” (Waddington). In other words, if many Internet users are going on  the same web page after typing in certain  keywords, Google considers that the content on that page is relevant and moves it on the upper side of that Google search page. However, the good news is that their relatively new policy  is to reward websites which bring more earned recommendation than the ones that are using manipulative techniques to rank high in the Google search. This new update is called Penguin and it is a game-changer for PR professionals. Why?  This is because who else, other than PR, is better known for the ability to earn attention for companies and individuals?

The solution exists, however, it seems very hard to expect every PR professional to embrace the new technology. This affects the speed with which the industry is making its way to achieving the real potential that it can have on the Internet. The real issue is that other marketing communications have figured out more effective ways in turning the digital communication in their favour. As a consequence, digital agencies threaten to take the budgets of PR agencies if they do not realise soon what impact they can have with the help of technology.

What Stella Bayles is suggesting in her book, Public Relations’ Digital Resolution, is total change of mentality; only the Warriors, the ones that believe in the evolution of the industry with the help of digital facilities will succeed in making a career in the new PR.

What is this new PR? It is basically the understanding that the is potential for the industry to expand. The definition of PR should go beyond the fact that it raises awareness and changes opinions. Waddington explains in the #Brand vandals that: “Our advertising colleagues have outsmarted us by taking on the macro contribution of advertising to the economy rather than a micro view.” Stella Bayles came with a magical formula to overcome this issue:

 STRATEGY+ CREATIVE= BUSINESS impact (beyond awareness).

What Stella suggests is that PR should work more like a business rather than working for a business, you should have business goals and set key performance indicators (KPIs).

Answering the question whether digital communication is good for PR, the answer is yes! Google is there to help the industry flourish. There are endless possibilities on the Internet. You can reach audiences globally, find influencers on various platforms and succeed in earning coverage on numerous quality websites. The pioneers of this new way of doing PR are here to help. There are many step-by-step self-guidance books, that it is impossible not to succeed if you really want to.

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Spin sucks, but this book doesn’t

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I couldn’t allow myself to finish my PR module this semester without reading one of the books my lecturer quotes every Tuesday morning.

Spin sucks: Communication and Reputation Management in the Digital Age by Gini Dietrich is a quick to read (and understand) book for those interested in how to effectively use PR in the digital era.

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich and Spin Sucks Pro and her blog Spin Sucks is ranked the number one PR blog in the world.

As she stresses in the introduction of this book, the chapters are written for  business leaders who want to improve their PR strategies. I’ll add that it is very helpful for a student as well. Of course, she is not excluding communication professionals from the picture, she just casually sends them to her blog, where they can indulge themselves not with one, but with two posts per day.

The purpose of this book is to guide you through the main steps of understanding how PR has changed since the emergence of the Internet, and how to use it in a holistic way, without falling victim to the “black hat” techniques. That’s because, you know, spin sucks.  Good and long lasting results take time: “ It’s a marathon, not a race.” seems to be the “mantra” of this book. The good news is that Dietrich highlights the dos and don’ts in PR, and backs them up with case studies.

In a book of only 146 pages, Gini Dietrich is able to provide readers with everything they need to know in building their PR strategies. She talks about history related to how Google has become such an important factor in the PR industry, how to create valuable content, how to protect you business from whisper campaigns, how to overcome communication crisis and she even speaks about the future of PR.

I particularly found interesting the third chapter:  Your Brand, Your Customers: Your customers control the brand. It’s really interesting the way Social Media can work against you and how you can make it your best friend. The first tip Gini is giving is the key of effectively  using social media, and it comes from Glenn Platt and Peg Faimon, co-directors of the Armstrong Institute for Interactive media Studies at Miami University:

 

 

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          And from this comes the second tip:

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Now more than ever, it’s very important to know how to communicate with your clients, you can’t control what your clients think about you, but as Gini says, “ you can control your operations, your culture, and your talent. The rest will come.”

As for the style of the book, Gini lists her ideas in bullet points and highlights them. This makes her ideas easy to understand. In the a world where everybody is busy, a books that is giving you quick tips on how to run the public relations of your business, it’s a winner in most people’s eyes.

As a conclusion, I would say that Gini’s book is a very well structured introduction to the PR world. It gives you a better idea about the industry after reading it. I will definitely move to the blog now, to see her approach in guiding  professionals in matters relating to PR.

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The team behind Justin Bieber had a “Purpose”

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Can we please take a moment and appreciate the team behind Justin Bieber’s new album “Purpose”? Kudos to you guys!

So, what do you get when you mix the most hated pop star with a very capable marketing and PR team? Just one of the best come backs in the music history.

By now we know that public relations is about, well relationships, interaction between people. When you have a confused teenager, that somehow made it to the list of the most hated people in the world and on top of this, he has a broken heart, you either have a lost cause or the potential to strike gold. Reputation management campaigns are not an easy job, but in this case, the team behind Justin Bieber came up with an original and effective solution: You promote his new album differently from any other album out there.

Let’s see: 1.You make the poor child apologise for all the stupid things he did in the last year. You need to play the humanity card, strike a chord in the people’s heart and make them realise this guy is just as real as they are, he is just lucky enough to owe a few Ferraris and that.

2.After, you give him a keyboard and make him write all his frustration regarding his lost love and his dignity for that matter. You bring a team made of the biggest names at the moment in the music production industry (Ed Sheeran, Diplo), just to make sure you’ve got the best lyrics and music out there.

3.You then come up with this brilliant idea to engage all the musicians in a month-long promotion of the first track on the album.justin-bieber-what-do-you-mean-2

4.Let’s see, what else? Oh yes, you invite famous and talented dancers to star in the music videos, so if the audience are not there for Bieber, at least they come to see the video. Did I mention he has a video for every track on the album?!

5.In the end, accidentally or not, in the month where he is promoting the album, paparazzi take pictures of a naked Justin Bieber!

Results?

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Trending picture on Instagram

Wait, have I just made a post about Justin Bieber? Well technically not, come on, the campaign is truly amazing!

Proving yourself on social media

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Public Relations has cleverly found its way into the digital era, the use of tools and apps not only made it easy to automate some processes in order to save time, but it also helped to increase the effectiveness of PR.

Smart tools like Lissted, Traackr and many others, are used to find relevant influencers within a community or even globally. This has worked very well until now, especially in the glamorous world of fashion and beauty products where pretty girls found themselves becoming internet stars.

In the last days, however, an Aussie fashion blogger decided that she had enough with this industry. She decided to “reveal” the truth behind her perfect Instagram shots by captioning all her photo with details of how much money was she paid to wear certain clothes or how long was she spending without eating for the perfect picture. This might be a risky statement to make, but it’s certainly not news for her followers or everyone with common sense. a4dc5039aaf433808443f3b38ceddf5c

What I really thought was clever is how she moved from being just a pretty girl showing off her body, to a woman who wants more. She saw the opportunity and took it, she made a powerful statement, enough to get her on the pages of fashion magazines where she could promote her new campaign: “NOT REAL LIFE”.

Will she change the face of social media and how PR companies are using them? Probably not, PR people are not forcing anyone into it, it’s your personal choice. However, I think she will help many insecure girls realise that numbers shouldn’t define you. The best of luck to Essena O’Neill, I think her role on social media is not finished yet.

” Why do I earn less than my male colleagues?”

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The mere fact that we are still confronting this issue in the 21st century, is shocking.

Earlier this month, my PR lecturer gave us the chance to meet the CIPR (Charter Institute of Public Relations) president, Sarah Pinch (@ms_organised). Among all the interesting things she told us, one of them got me thinking: Gender Pay Gap

With all the Internet roaring about Jennifer Lawrence’s essay on pay gap in Hollywood, and adding Sarah’s observation, it made me curious enough to go on doing my own research.

What I found out looking on the Pew Research Centre is that according to the White gender-wage-gap[1]House, full-time working women earn 77% of what their men counterparts earn. Shocking? I’d say so, giving the fact that a woman with the same college degree as a man is likely to get a less paid job. Although the number of women getting higher-paid positions has increased in the last years, the gender discrimination is still out there.

Jennifer Lawrence says that maybe it’s not her gender, maybe it is the fact that she is a bad negotiator. I’m not sure whether Sarah Pinch has read the Oscar’s winning essay or not, but she is disagreeing with that statement: “This is not an issue of women being poor negotiators, it’s an issue of the system. A woman’s average salary in PR is £33,737 while a man’s is £41,143.  On a pay gap of £12,591, exactly £8,483 is found to be determined by gender alone.”

With all the studies being carried out on the subject and all the results showing that women are still subject to discrimination, is there anything being done? Well, in UK, the Conservative party is stating in their Manifesto for 2015 that they want to see full, genuine gender equality. They’re planning to require business with over 250 employees, to publish the difference between the average pay of their male and female employees. I will definitely continue to follow the statistics. Who knows, maybe a miracle will happen in the end, or should we leave it for the next century?