All posts by PR Musings: Public Relations Made Simple

About PR Musings: Public Relations Made Simple

David E. Johnson is the CEO and founder of Strategic Vision PR Group. With over 20 years of experience, he is a PR industry leader who specializes in media relations, crisis, communications, branding, and reputation management. He drives client strategy and has been integral in leading the firm forward since its founding in 2001 during the aftermath of 9/11. He has been described as a PR guru extraordinaire and the go to person for crisis communications by the news media. Johnson’s public relations and communications experience developed with experience working for various trade associations and governmental agencies in Florida. In the late 1990s he was employed with one of Atlanta’s top public relations agencies where he oversaw a diverse client portfolio that included accounts in the architectural, legal hospitality, education, non-profit, lifestyle, sports, technology, real estate, and health care professions. With the founding of Strategic Vision PR Group, Johnson developed a niche practice for the firm in book publicity. He works with new and established authors from both the self-publishing and traditional publishing realm. Johnson is regularly sought out by the media for his intricate expertise and knowledge of the public relations industry. He has appeared on CNN, FOX News Channel, FOX Business Network, ESPN, CNBC, CBS This Morning, and the Today Show, as well as in publications such as People, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, PR Week, PR Daily, E-Commerce Times, Associated Press, Christian Science Monitor, Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Hollywood Life, and serves as a frequent contributor for Commpro.biz, Brilliant Results Magazine, Bulldog Reporter’s Daily Dog, and Alister & Paine. He was named as one of the top 500 Influencers by Campaigns & Elections Magazine for 2013.

Crisis Communications Done Right: Rick Scott and Hurricane Irma

So often in crisis management we observe what individuals and brands do wrong and that receives most of the coverage.  Very seldom do we talk about things being done right.  So, this article is about doing crisis management the right way.  Florida Governor Rick Scott’s crisis management deserves praise and is something brands should study.

So what did he do right?

  1.   Governor Scott’s message was simple and direct during the crisis and he stayed on message throughout – people needed to evacuate from the oncoming storm and the storm was devastating.  Every interview or press conference he gave, he worked in his message and never deviated.  Often during a crisis and the media frenzy, spokespersons will forget their message or convolute it.  Governor Scott never did.
  2. Included all stakeholders. A common mistake in crisis communications is forgetting one of the stakeholders.  Governor Scott never did.  His stakeholders were the citizens of Florida, county and city leaders, the federal government, and state employees.  Governor Scott included all of these in his various communications and schedule.  He conveyed what was expected and needed.  A schedule released from the Governor’s office showed just how much time he spent in making sure that all stakeholders were addressed from interviews and press conferences to the public; to phone calls with policymakers; to concise and clear instructions for state workers.  This type of inclusion led many (particularly individuals who are normally critical of Governor Scott) to praise him.
  3. Social media. Often during a crisis, even a natural disaster, social media is overlooked as a means to communicate or does not have the message that is being conveyed on traditional media outlets.  To his credit, Governor Scott and his communications team made sure that the same message that they were communicating through traditional media was being communicated via social media.  They realized that even though they were saturating the airwaves, that many people get their information via Twitter or Facebook.
  4. Plan Forward. Throughout Hurricane Irma and now in its aftermath, Governor Scott communicated that there was a plan moving forward to rebuild and restore the areas that were affected.  A key to successful crisis management isn’t just communicating about the crisis but offering a vision forward after the crisis has passed.

Hurricane Irma was a devastating catastrophe.  Avoiding an even greater tragedy is due in no small part to Rick Scott’s deft crisis management.  Business leaders would do well to study his crisis communications handling.

Advertisements

The Benefits Of Public Relations

Whether you are a corporate leader, author, entertainer, athlete, or seeking to influence public policy, you know that you need public relations.  Yet despite this, many people are uncertain of what the benefits of public relations are.

First you have to understand what public relations is.  A basic definition of what public relations does for companies, authors, entertainers, athletes, organizations, and brands is it shapes and molds their public image. It utilizes the right strategies to allow for you to be heard and seen, through media outlets.

So, what are the benefits of public relations?

  1. Target market.  A well-crafted and orchestrated public relations campaign targets the media and events that your target market utilizes.  If you are a toy company making board games, a public relations campaign will target the media that people who like board games read, watch, or listen too.  The campaign will also target trade shows and events that will give your product the maximum exposure, as well as, obtain celebrity endorsements that will carry weight with consumers.  If you are a romance author, public relations will allow you to reach readers who purchase romance books through media interviews, book reviews, book signings, and speaking engagements.
  2.  Businesses, authors, celebrities, brands and any organization conduct public relations not just to promote something but to build a better image. Effective public relations allows your brand to attain a positive image both online and offline, which benefits you for the long haul and brands your image in the public’s consciousness.
  3.   Public relations such as a media interview, review, or media profile, carries weight with the public.  It is seen as a third party (the media outlet) endorsement.  The public knows that such media mentions are not paid for by the company, unlike an advertisement.  Studies show that consumers give a media mention over 7 times the credibility they do an advertisement.
  4. Public relations is more cost efficient than advertising.  The rates for public relations along with the results it produces, are between 30% to 50% better than doing advertising.
  5. Lead Generation. The media placement from public relations is long lasting.  This is especially true with Google, company and media outlets websites.  While you will see the greatest number of leads after the media mention appears, the leads continue long after as people find the media story online during searches.

The benefits of public relations are immense.  It is long lasting with the impact felt long after the initial campaign.

Do You Need A Public Relations Agency?

A very common question asked when considering public relations is, do I need a public relations agency?  The answer is yes, you do need a public relations agency for a variety of reasons (and not just because we are a public relations agency).

Why you ask do you need a public relations agency?  Let us count the reasons why:

  1. The media receives thousands of pitches a day.  Having a public relations agency make the media contact adds credibility to you and what you are promoting.  It shows the media that you, your company, service or product are credible and you are placing money behind it to promote it.  Trying to do it yourself lessens your credibility in the eyes of the media.
  2. It saves you money and time.  In business, everything revolves around the bottom line.  In this alone it is smarter to retain a public relations agency.  Public relations is not just press releases, press conferences, and media appearances.  It also includes the social media aspect of maintaining a company’s blog, and social media pages.   This would require several salaried people.  In terms of salary alone, you are losing out as with a retainer with a public relations agency you have a team of professionals on your account that handle each aspect of that public relations campaign.  For small and medium sized organizations, the savings is even greater.  Not only are you saving money, you are saving time and remember time is money.  There are not enough hours in the day for a small or medium sized business to do everything that needs to be done.  And time away from your core business means lost opportunities.
  3. The personnel at a public relations agency are the experts in their field.  They bring their expertise in writing, social media, media relations, branding, and special events to the plate.  They know public relations.  They know how to position a client for the maximum exposure.  They have the contacts with the media.  They know which reporters will cover which topics and also how to package a story that the media wants.  Many people think of an interview in terms of sales, it isn’t.  If a reporter suspects someone is just trying to sell them something through their story it will never see the light of day.  An experienced public relations expert knows how to package a story so that it is newsworthy to the reporter while still being of marketing benefit to a client.
  4. Crisis Communications. Most people think of public relations as positive news.  It is, until disaster strikes. Businesses always have a plan for when a crisis strikes in how to handle things except in terms of publicity.  Working with an agency means a preliminary crisis communications plan has been developed beforehand that can be altered to fit the crisis.  Agency personnel have the skills and experience to objectively evaluate your business, clearly assess its strengths and weaknesses, and figure out how to use them in crisis communications.
  5. By bringing in someone from the outside you are bringing in someone who can be more objective and doesn’t have the emotional commitment and blinders that an owner or company employee has and can assess what ideas will work and what won’t work.
  6. A public relations agency tends to be more creative in developing story ideas and teasers to induce the media and can think outside the corporate box. An agency constantly monitors the news and often sees opportunities that others don’t.  For example, our agency represented a marriage counseling service and when the Anthony Weiner story broke during the 2016 campaign, went into pitching mode to have our client discuss why powerful men cheat which resulted in coverage on FOX News Channel, CNN, HLN, Good Morning America, People Magazine, and the New York Post.

So, based on these reasons, the answer to whether you need a public relations agency is quite simple and emphatic.  Yes, you do.

Businesses seek to attract attention to their newest brand, product or service. With about a quarter of a million new product and service launches globally each year, and countless established brands seeking coverage, it’s not always easy for a new company get the publicity it seeks. But, it’s possible to break through the clutter.

Here are a few ways to achieve it:

  1. Get key stakeholders involved early.
  2. Use several ways to get your message out.Media Relations
    1. Social Media
    2. Stakeholder Involvement
    3. Influencers
  3. Give the media various ways to cover your news.
  4. Know your story and what makes it unique.
  5. Utilize a variety of storytellers in getting your message out.

The challenge for any new business is getting the word out and attracting customers.  That is why the roll out is so important.  Without the proper public relations campaign, you may have the greatest product or service ever but nobody will know about it.  Following these basic strategies will ensure that people do learn about it.

Tips For A Successful Speaking Engagement

Speaking engagements are a critical part of any public relations campaign.  They allow a person to get before their target audience and directly communicate with them.  Authors find that after a speaking engagement, members of the audience will purchase copies of their book.  Business leaders find that after a speaking engagement members of the audience will be interested in their products and services.  In addition, speaking engagements assist in branding the speaker as an expert in their field.  Despite all of these benefits many people find speaking engagements to be challenging and nerve wracking.

What are some tips to help when doing speaking engagements?

  1. Know your purpose for speaking.  Are you looking to help in branding yourself as an expert?  Are you looking for sales?  Knowing what you hope to achieve from the speech helps in the development of the speech and developing key points to zero in on.
  2. Know the audience. It is critical that you know who will be in the audience; the level of understanding they have on your subject matter; and what they hope to learn and achieve by attending and listening to you.  Knowing this will allow you to develop the key points in your delivery.
  3. Keep it simple. When crafting your speech have three main points that you want to get across.  More than three will lose the attention of the audience.
  4. Use stories. A personal story with some humor and facts always is a hit with an audience.  It is also a way to connect with attendees.
  5. Concentrate on the beginning and the ending. Audiences pay the most attention to a speaker’s opening and closing remarks.  You want those parts of your speech to be memorable and have a call to action for the audience.

Speaking engagements are critical in any public relations program.  Utilizing these tips will help any speaker achieve the results they are seeking.

Tips For A Successful Media Interview Via Skype

The importance of a good television interview cannot be overstated.  Everyone knows the power of television and that it often reaches far more people than other media forms.  In addition, a television interview can be repurposed for online marketing and social media outlets.  With advances in technology, more television interviews, especially on networks and affiliates in major cities are being conducted via Skype.  For the television networks and stations this cuts down on production costs.  For the interviewee it means more preparation for the interview.

Here are some things to consider when doing a Skype interview:

  • Check Your Connection– Test your Wifi connection in advance.  Make sure that it working and that signal is strong.
  • Make Sure Your Video Is On – The worst thing that can happen on a Skype interview is for the video not to be working.
  • Consider Your Background– Keep it simple and branded, if possible.  A background with the company logo is perfect.  Also blue and green backgrounds are ideal.  Avoid red backgrounds.
  • Avoid Bare Walls– Add visual interest, but be relevant to the topic at hand.  Bookshelves are always a nice touch.
  • Secure Your Location; Lock the Door– Make sure no one interrupts you during the interview.
  • Wear Solid Colors– Busy patterns move and jump on camera.  Dress just as you would if you were in studio.
  • Look Into The Webcam– Look at the viewer; not yourself.  This is critical as you want to come across to viewers as direct and as if you were in the studio.
  • Create Space; Sit Back– Don’t get too close to the webcam.
  • Center Yourself– Be sure you are in the center of the screen.
  • Check Your Lighting– Make sure you are well-lit and not in shadow.  At the same time don’t overdo it.  Shut any blinds or curtains to avoid any sun glare.
  • Turn Off All Notifications– You don’t want your inbox pinging you or sounds going off that will disrupt your flow and distract the audience.
  • Use a Professional Skype Name– Remember this is how the television station or network will contact you.  You want your name to reflect you and your brand.  Avoid Skype names like Partyanimal or OnforaBuzz.

Skype interviews are the way all of television is headed.  By following these simple rules you will guarantee yourself a successful interview that will reach potential customers and be able to be utilized on social media channels.

 

The Benefits of Public Relations

Business leaders know that their companies need public relations.  It increases a company’s visibility, assists in marketing efforts to increase profits, and helps establish a strong brand identity in the market.  Regardless of size or type of business, public relations is essential to any business.

The benefits of public relations for business success are immeasurable.  Among the benefits are:

  1. Today’s consumer is more savvy than ever before.  They start their search for a product or service online.  Not only do they check a company’s website, but they search social media, reviews, and news stories about the business.  With public relations, companies have a strong social media presence as well as credibility through media stories about the company and its products and services.
  2. Brand Identity. Public relations creates brand identity with the public.  This is done through media relations, social media, community relations, and other public relations tools.  This means that that the consumer is aware of the company and what its brand stands for in terms of values and service (and today many consumers search for brands that share their values).
  3. Public relations doesn’t equal sales.  What it does is reinforce marketing efforts.  Studies show that companies that use public relations see an increase in the success of their marketing efforts by 45%.  Don’t just take our word for it though, recall what Bill Gates said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.”

Public relations is critical to business success and growth.  Every company needs a public relations strategy and needs to keep it continuous to reap the benefits.