PR Blocks and Tackles

Posted on 07. Oct, 2011 by in Blog, public relations

´╗┐Public relations has an identity crisis. Once, when we spoke to a college class about the profession, one student said, “What’s it like to promote bands and celebrities?” She was a little disappointed that we were not a publicists. And, most business owners still bristle at the term PR, associating it almost exclusively with two classic situations they face:

  1. “We screwed up and we look like idiots. We need PR to fix this.”
  2. Our latest product isn’t really remarkable at all. Have those PR folks make it look interesting. (Twice, I’ve had prospective clients say, “We need to PR this.” Yes, they used it as a verb!)

But that perception is changing, especially as businesses figure out that the tactical parts of communications are relatively easy. For example, building a web site is easy; filling it with relevant content and using it to actually communicate with other human beings is hard. So, a relationship specialist comes in pretty handy when you actually need to get a site out the door and integrate it with your sales and marketing functions. That’s PR strategy.

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon

As businesses struggle to connect with their customers, they are getting wise to the strategic value of PR. (See Andy Polansky’s recent post about the industry.) This revelation is especially acute in new ventures. By the time a CEO utters the words “public relations” it’s usually too late. It’s akin to getting half way through the construction of a new house and then saying, “Wait! We need an architect!” Who wants to be the clean-up guy on that project? I’m not suggesting that PR professionals can plot a perfect path to long-term relationships, but I will suggest that their mode of thinking complements the sales process very well. They cover the periphery, plan out scenarios, drive the agenda and respond calmly to crisis. To use another analogy, while you’re setting up all your crafty plays, PR is “blocking and tackling”. So, who’s going to cover you while your trying to throw that ball?

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