SURPASSING the 30-year milestone is an achievement not many companies are privileged to reach. This year, as FuentesManila once again celebrates being a thirty-something Public Relations (PR) agency, we raise a toast not just to over three decades of working with hundreds of amazing clients, brands, and people; we also express gratitude for being on the front row, to witness and be amazed by how this industry of ours has evolved over the years.
The media landscape has been in a constant state of transformation, especially in the last decade. If 30 or so years ago, we only had to keep our eyes peeled for daily printed articles, morning and evening broadcast news from TV and radio to keep ourselves up to date with what’s happening around us, these days, it’s a constantly bubbling mix—of social media from so many platforms, online news, blogs and vlogs, websites, etc—that’s always on and never seems to simmer down.
And because the media and the PR industry are famously inseparable (at least from our POV!), PR professionals have been kept on their toes, periodically recalibrating their media strategies, in the last decade or so.
And yet, despite the rapid transformation of the media ecosystem, any seasoned PR professional knows there are elements and concepts in PR that will always remain the same. Knowing these “constants” will help you navigate the ever-changing terrain and focus on what you really want to achieve.
It’s always about selling an idea. This is the core of any PR campaign. It doesn’t matter if your entire campaign is based on a long and winding position paper, a consumer research or a survey report—you should be able to simplify and summarize what you want to communicate in a sentence or two, then possibly break it down into sub-messages. This will make it easier for you to convey your idea, convince and hopefully convert your target audience. What exactly is the idea that you want your audience to retain? You, your team and your client should be on the same page when it comes to key messages.
A clear objective and strategy. Any campaign is bound to go awry if the objectives are not clear from the get-go. Your objectives are like your compass that determine which way your campaign should go and what strategies you need to formulate to achieve your goals.
Media and their gatekeepers. One of the most useful postulations that many successful PR practitioners keep in mind is this: You need media but media does not need you. Understanding why this is true almost all the time is a secret not just to professional longevity but also to staying on the good side of media gatekeepers AKA the editors. The latter can easily do their jobs without the help of their PR friends, but every PR campaign needs to utilize some form of media to convey their messages to their target public.
Measurability. There should always be a goal or a yardstick by which you will measure if your PR campaign is successful. Back in the day, our performance was mostly measured in terms of media mileage, target audience participation, event attendance, etc. These days, there are so many metrics used to measure PR performance, from website traffic, engagement, reach, and impressions, to CPM and CPI, among others. The list has obviously changed but the idea is the same—you should be able to provide quantifiable and measurable values to evaluate and measure the success of a campaign.
Tell the truth. As PR professionals, we sometimes are left without a choice but to sidestep a sensitive issue or play down a controversial subject, but a cardinal rule in PR is that any message or idea we choose to communicate, highlight or reinforce may not be totally indubitable but it must reflect the truth. It—or at the very least a semblance of it. The truth should always be at the heart of any PR message.
There may be more ‘constants’ that I might have missed but these five are clearly pillars that will hold up a PR campaign, regardless of whether it was implemented yesterday or 30 years ago. It’s true that things have changed dramatically in the PR front and while some may huff and puff about new technologies, metrics and tools of the trade, it is always useful to remember the proverb about what really happens the more things change.
PR Matters is a roundtable column by members of the local chapter of the United Kingdom-based International Public Relations Association (Ipra), the world’s premiere association for senior communications professionals around the world. Edd Fuentes is the founder and CEO of FuentesManila, a Manila-based PR agency founded in 1990. Edd is a Board Member of IPRA Global representing South Asia for the last 7 years.
PR Matters is devoting a special column each month to answer our readers’ questions about public relations. Please send your questions or comments to email@example.com
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