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Over the 14 month existence of this blog I, and you the readers and participants, have been fortunate to be entertained and informed by a number of intelligent, insightful guest blogger posts, as well as by interviews with public relations, marketing and other business communication professionals that have covered topics as diverse as market research and setting KPIs, visual communication, getting the best out of annual reports and what it takes to be successful in a PR career.
This post revisits some of these memorable posts that have each provided highly useful advice.
Setting PR benchmarks
The visit to Australia in recent months by highly respected, world renowned PR guru Angela Sinickas was perfectly timed for this blog (though I hardly think that was the motivation for her visit!). Angela has particular expertise in the ‘niche, but sadly under-discussed, area of setting PR benchmarks.
A lack of measurement is holding PR back, said Angela, and going by the larger than normal number of retweets (in the context of my blog) this post received I can only assume that, firstly, many people agree with her and, secondly, this is an area that PR professionals are interested in and concerned about.
I interviewed Angela prior to her visit to Australia. One of the most impressive aspects of Angela is that she hasn’t sat back in frustration moaning about this weakness of PR, but she has proactively identified sensible, inexpensive ways in which PR can set benchmarks and evaluate them.
One of her punchlines? It’s all about behaviour, she said. Impacting on understanding and opinions are useful, but behaviour is where it’s at.
Visual communication helping business communication
Despite there being a prevalence of research that clearly indicates visuals facilitate understanding and communication; PR folk in particular aren’t great at incorporating this dimension into their work. Marketing does better at this. Maybe because of its larger budgets, but it’s also a stronger part of its heritage.
Guy Downes, however, wrote a series for my blog about where visual communication can help public relations in storytelling. Now storytelling is an area that public relations is strong in. But not strong enough, according to Guy. His posts offer an entertaining point of view on how we can get better.
One reason why Guy is well worth listening to is that he is an ‘ex’ PR pro. I say ex, but despite focusing on his own illustration business, he hasn’t lost his savvy PR skills. So when he writes on visual communication, you just know he’s conscious of its application as a potentially very effective tool in the strategic PR and marketing toolkit.
Now this is one post that went off! And whilst I expected people to be interested in this discussion, the manner in which it went viral surprised me somewhat.
It was an interview with two of Australia’s leading PR recruiters, Richard Whitington and Di Treble from Talent2. So these are two people who seriously know what they are talking about. They have a lot of credibility and I have always found both of them very helpful and very insightful with their thoughts.
I guess lots of people in PR were very, very interested to hear from leading PR recruiters. They certainly contribute to making – if not actually breaking – careers; so it makes sense to me that people want to hear what they think ticks the boxes of a PR professional.
I think there were more than one or two people who raised a literal and metaphorical eyebrow when Richard and Di observed that, up to this point, having social media skills has only rarely emerged as being a mandatory qualification for a PR role – and this is determined by organistaions that hire Richard and Di, remember, not the pair themselves.
Graham White, a highly respected PR pro from Howorth, offered a different perspective on the necessity of having social media skills to work in PR than the Talent2 perspective, with both being well worth reading.
Annual reports as really useful communication
There are a lot of us in PR who have spent our fair share of time hunkered down over the tome known as an annual report. Sometimes mind-numbing, sometimes interesting but just about always a marathon-like process where you are left wondering: “Am I doing anything useful here?’
Well, an ex-colleague of mine, Laura Fayers, persuasively argued over two posts that annual reports DO make a contribution to winning the PR war. Laura provided us with plenty of useful tips – including focusing on that basic requirement of PR pros: telling stories – to help enhance annual reports’ utility as a communication mechanism.
Market research: can a PR pro afford not to do it?
One year ago I claimed market research is one of the most fundamental and important aspects of public relations. Without undertaking scientifically rigourous market research, it is not possible to precisely know target audience/stakeholder:
- issues of concern
- influences on their knowledge, perceptions, behaviour
- communication modes that they utilise and/or that contribute to influencing them.
To support my argument and add a considerable degree of value to it, I interviewed market research expert Adrian Goldsmith over a series of posts. In summary? Market research is totally a ‘must have for PR pros. This series provides an excellent complement to the perspectives of Angela’s flagged earlier.
Event management – getting it right
Visual communication, annual reports and, with this guest post, events. Three dimensions of public relations that are sometimes underestimated in their potency.
As always, what communication works best for organisational stakeholders must be considered. But then again, what has meaning for the organisation itself is also a critical factor.
Toni Brasch, who is an incredibly talented events manager (though this meagre description doesn’t do justice to the strategic approach she applies to her craft or the contribution it can make on a strategic level to an organisation’s stakeholder relationships), wrote a guest post for this blog on how events are marketing’s killer app.
Summary of PR/marketing thoughts
This is but a small selection of the rich contributions that have been made to this blog since it started by professionals other than myself. They have enriched the blog immeasurably and, as this is a social media mechanism, it seems only right that views other than my own are explored in greater depth than each post’s comment section allows.
If you want to hone in on two resources, generated at least partially by this blog that capture a range of professional communicators’ perspectives, I recommend you check out these two free and extensive reports:
- PR at war – opinion explosion at social media summit
- Crisis communication & social media summit 2009: a report
Would you like to write a guest post for this blog? Or be interviewed? If so, let me know! And of the posts noted above, which did you glean the most value from?