Obviously the P in PR stands for public, but in today’s business environment a better fit might be personal. While for now it may not be possible to rebrand an acronym representing an entire industry, taking a personal approach to PR has the benefit of forging deeper connections with clients and the target audience.
If you are thinking – “Well, duh,” then we are off to a good start. Knowing your client and their business has always been the first step to building a strong and successful relationship. The strongest client agency relationships are developed by deeply entrenched teams who take the time to get to know not only their client’s business and goals, but their likes and dislikes as well. While some might prefer a quick data dump post event with a deeper debrief to come, others might require a nuanced report after even the most mundane of meetings.
Knowing how to build a connection is the first thing any public relations wannabee learns. So what if we applied that first rule to other elements of public relations as well? With a constant news cycle, an ever changing media landscape and an infinite number of influencers, our jobs aren’t getting any simpler.
When does a personal approach pay off?
Classic media strategies can work in the right situation, however with thousands of news releases going out every day, the best way to make your news “newsworthy” is to target the right reporter. In a world where personalization rules, reporters don’t respond to a mass BCC email list, they respond to a compelling story – especially when it’s written just for them. Even better, if a member of your team knows the reporter and has a relationship that can strengthen the connection to the story. Not possible? Determine the specialties and interests of the journalist and play to their interests.
Going beyond #spon and #ad is a necessity for any company or brand that wants to be seen as truly authentic. New influencers and influencer networks appear every day, but being strategic enough to recognize the right brand fit and connection is a key ingredient to engaging with passionate brand fans and enthusiasts. Whether seizing a real-time opportunity in the moment, or engaging with industry thought leaders, work with bloggers and influencers who really connect with your client’s story, not just those looking for an extra buck.
On any account among the most valuable things you can bring forward is innovative thinking. Even the most idea shy client wants to know their agency is dedicated to reinventing and creating on their behalf. However, that light bulb moment won’t happen during the grind of day-to-day responsibilities; being open to new ideas and looking for opportunities to execute them is a mindset that must be practiced. Don’t wait for the annual planning brainstorm to discover inspiration – pursue inspiration outside your daily routine by following industry competitors and influencers, exploring a new piece of technology, and encourage your team to challenge and push each other.
Ultimately, the magic of a personal approach to public relations comes from putting down the template of ‘how things are done’ and allowing the story to come first. A campaign without connection won’t resonate with anyone – client, media or influencer (and you can be certain a ground breaking idea isn’t on the way). The lesson is clear, don’t be standard. Be personal.
Author: Patty Bloom, a Cannes Young Lions 2016 finalist