Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Did the Traditional Media Release Just Die?

Is the traditional media release dying?

It could well be because most media releases don't succeed despite all the hours of love and attention that goes into them. Most are full of corporate speak and look more like policy platforms rather than documents designed to attract attention.

How long are cash strapped, time poor organisations going to tolerate this poor return on their PR investment?

The social media release may be the next generation way of sharing information with the media and others. It is an on-line document drawing together text,video,audio,images, quotes and in-depth information.

There's not much information about this new tool but this video shows the new format. (You'll need to excuse the blatant advertising by the three UK lads promoting their services).

Communicators Can't Risk the Fate of Middle Age Monks

A recent international report shows PR agencies around the world enjoyed boom times in 2007, clocking up their best ever financial performances.

It’s all symptomatic of the rise and rise of communicators who are increasingly critical in the fortunes of governments, political parties, businesses, not for profits and just about every other type of other organization.

They may not know how it works, but managers at all levels now instinctively recognize the value of PR. And the more astute ones understand that without good PR, corporate or personal reputations can be end up in the trash.

Apart from (long overdue) management recognition, the boom times are also here because communicators now have more tools than ever to connect with customers, clients and citizens. Web2.0 technologies have given us the chance to engage with the people we need to reach, without going through traditional gatekeepers or self appointed mediators.

Despite all the hype no-one really knows where the world of on-line communications is heading. Just when we come to grips with one application, others spring up. Which means communicators are entering pioneer territory and the way ahead is likely to be uncharted, unfamiliar and often uncomfortable.

I hope we take a key lesson from the 1990s when the Internet really began to emerge. Then, most PR areas didn’t understand it, so almost by default, it became the property of the IT department. The “techos” quickly captured the new technology and from that point on people, who knew little about communicating, owned history’s most powerful communications tool.

In today’s organisations communicators must understand, use and promote the use of Web 2.0 or risk the fate of the monks in the Middle Ages. Then monks in cloistered monasteries labored for years to produce Europe’s manuscripts. In 1440 when German inventor Johannes Gutenberg invented his wooden printing press, a generation of monks likely looked at each other and said “this printing press won’t work… can’t understand it… not for us”.

Fast forward to today. Many printing presses … few monks!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

50 Top Australian Marketing Blogs

The top 50 list of Australian marketing blogs has just been published and shows Aussie marketers are an innovative, free thinking lot.

Check out the list here.

Career Building Step #1 Get People to Pay Attention

Lately we have run into some fairly dispirited communicators frustrated by their senior management's lack of attention to their ideas. I sympathize.
I know how trying it can be to get people to recognise the value of your media or marketing suggestions. Worse still is when they readily adopt the same ideas from a consultant "earning big bucks", treat them like heavenly revelations and implement them.

So how can you get your boss to recognise the value of what you're suggesting?
  • Sometimes it's sad but true. The communicators "selling the organisation, don't sell themselves". So don't just be tolerated- be valued. Continually talk up the value your communications brings.
  • When you submit your annual budget are you asking people to commit to an act of blind faith? Forecast the results and benefits you plan to deliver.
  • Most professional PR and marketing services run on a billable time basis. Clearly show how you spend your time and how your investment of effort brings results.
  • It's easy to typecast communicators as left brain, artsy types far removed from the real world. Learn to speak the language of management - outcomes and objectives, deliverables, targets, milestones, prospects and sales.
  • Managers are busy people. They want to see things at a glance. Use graphs, graphics and tables to visually present information.
  • Benchmark with the best. Ask senior management which organizations they admire and then find out why those organisations communicate effectively. If in fact they do things better, learn from them. When you introduce new ideas tell those on the top floor, where these fresh insights come from and how others have made them work.
  • Measure everything you can lay your hands on. Measuring your communications is the only way to show progress. (Check out Angela Sinickas' free resources on communications measurement).
  • Report early ... report often. Regularly send one page reports upstairs about what you are doing. Don't write a history book so keep reporting short, sharp and concise. Finish each report with a "where to next" section in dot point form.
  • When things succeed, collect and circulate testimonials to profile your achievements.
  • "Comma jockeys and font fiends" talk tactics. Top communicators talk strategy. Continually remind people who they are trying to reach, what they are trying to say, the results they are trying to achieve and how your proposals will get them there.

Sometimes convincing people within your organisation can be tougher than convincing your external audiences. But taking the time to engage management can be a career building step.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Value or Vanity in Selecting Media

When running campaigns, sometimes clients insist in seeing their issue reported in a particular magazine or newspaper. This type of "top down" direction is great because it can really focus your media efforts.

But the big "but" is does that publication reach the target audience? Or is not merely reflecting the CEO's personal preferences. In other words landing a story in a particualr publication might be more about vanity than real value.

If your goal is to simply reach the largest number of Australians, the recent Roy Morgan Readership Survey for the year ending March 2008, is a good guide to where to direct your media relations efforts.

Right now the top three newspapers by circulation in Australia are:
  • The Sunday Telegraph (NSW)
  • The Sunday Herald Sun (VIC)
  • The Sunday Mail (QLD)

And the top three magazines by readership are:

  • Australian Women's Weekly
  • Woman's day
  • New Idea

Whether your media efforts are dictated by volume or vanity, don't forget that media coverage is valuable only if it helps you reach the people you need to talk to.

Roy Morgan figures as reported in the 30 May 2008 edition of AdNews