Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Communications Audit Tool for Not For Profits

Before beginning a new communication journey, it is worth reflecting on the current state of your organisation’s PR and marketing. A communications audit provides the opportunity to review your efforts and assess their effectiveness. 

A communications audit is a valuable exercise whether you are a large or small not for profit. It provides a handy reference point to assess what is working and what is not. Based on this you can then decide what to continue with and what to abandon.

In my workshops I ask groups to complete a simple audit template which takes around 20 minutes. An extract is below. 

Communication activity



Very effective


Not Effective

For example

Gather those who are responsible for directing and those who are responsible for carrying out your PR and marketing to complete the audit. Often in small not for profits these are the same people. It is handy to have the CEO or Chairperson involved because they know what is coming up, set future priorities and importantly control the communications budget. 
 Limit the audit to what you have done in the past 12 months and begin filling in the template. 
 In the column labelled Communication activity individually list what you currently do. For example you might use: 
  • Print collateral such as brochures, fliers, newsletters. Even list your annual report if this is how you make key people aware of what you do.
  • Media relations such as media releases, interviews, media conferences, letters to the editor.
  • Digital platforms such as your own or others’ websites, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Foursquare.
  • Events such as those you stage and those where you join with others.
  • Word of mouth marketing such as liaising with influential people and asking clients for testimonials.
  • Advertising such as radio, TV, newspapers or on-line advertising.
  • Direct marketing such as direct mail, email campaigns, telesales
  • Other activities.
 This list is not exhaustive but I hope you get the idea. 
 In the column labelled Frequency write down how often you do these tasks. For example it could be something you do regularly such as keeping in contact with funding agencies. Or it might be something that happens throughout the year such as approaching the media.  Or it might be something occurring once a year such as publishing the annual report.
 In the column labelled Budget you need to identify the dollar cost of each activity and the number of hours spent on it each month. Small organisations often have little to spend on marketing and PR, but compensate by devoting considerable time to communicating. It is important to identify both types of costs.
In the column labelled Very effective place a tick for a particular activity that you regard as successful and would want to repeat. Or you might rate an activity as effective (which is still a high score) so place a tick against that item in the column labelled Effective.  Or you might judge something as just not working, so tick the Not effective column.
Each communication task can only have one effectiveness rating and assigning a rating is based on either on evaluation data you have collected or an educated best guess of what works and what does not. (More on evaluation data in a later blog post .)
 A completed template shows at a glance the relative effectiveness of each item on your communications menu. You can now decide what to keep, improve or ditch.  Ideally you would want to continue an activity that was low cost in dollar terms and staff time but very effective.  Something that was effective but expensive might warrant more effort to make it work even harder.  Something graded not effective needs a massive overhaul or should be dropped.
You should conduct a simple communications audit least every 12 months and make sure you keep a record.  This then becomes an important document from which you can judge your progress. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Not For Profits And PR Planning

A charity would never think of providing food to the homeless without the proper arrangements in place? A not for profit would never schedule respite care without preparations? A green group would never save a river without researching the best ways to undertake the task. Not for profits continuously plan their next steps.

Yet when it comes to PR and marketing, many organizations work in a haphazard fashion, improvising as they go. The committee cries out. We need a brochure, build a Facebook fan page or get us on the evening news.  That is often enough for someone to be off and running with little thought of a larger marketing picture. 

Effective communication does not have to be elaborate or expensive. But it does have to be planned. A simple plan focuses efforts, ensures money is wisely spent and harnesses staff and volunteer effort into concrete actions which lead to a desired end point. A communication plan is as important as other key business and corporate strategies and flows on from these documents. In turn it contributes to their successful implementation.  You need a plan but it does not have to be complex.  

Unless your organization is small with only a handful of members you need to document your communication goals and activities. A written plan ensures everyone shares a common direction, removes doubt and allows your achievements to be measured. 
Communications plans vary between organizations but most identify:
  • Objectives: the communications fundamentals to achieve.
  • Audiences: the people you need to reach.
  • Messages: what you want to tell people.
  • Tactics: how you will get information to your audiences.
  • A timetable: what happens and when.
  • Budget: how much you have to spend and on what, over the life of the plan.
  • Measurement: how you will measure your efforts so you can improve.
  • Responsibilities: who is doing what and by when. 
Not for profits are dynamic organisations and change constantly.  For example you hire new staff, get new clientele or your funding varies. Therefore your communications plan should be flexible rather than set in stone and has to be vigorously reviewed and updated so it remains current and relevant.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Best Book of 2010

Of the ten or so marketing and PR books I have reviewed in the last 12 months  the stand-out is Repositioning: marketing in an era of competition, change and crisis by Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin.
Trout and Rivkin have written a book of uncommon wisdom for  the post Global Financial Crisis world.  They call on companies anxious to succeed, to adjust the perceptions people have either of them or their competition.  This mandates repositioning the competition and or competing all out on a simply defined value proposition.

Most managers are disinclined to attack the competition head.  It usually invites comparison, criticism and counter attack.  However Trout and Rivkin cite examples in the olive oil, luxury car, liquor and other industries where marketers have used this strategy  to  fence in the  competition and win.  

On the other hand  “value is the name of the game”. And companies can grow market share when they do something special, pioneer new technologies, compete on whole of life costs or introduce a premium.

This is an easy to read five star book for those after different ideas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Become A Brand And Stand For Something

 A golden rule applies to each one of us whether we are politicians, business tycoons or on the frontline of community service.   

You must stand for something if you want to succeed.  This applies as much to not for profit organisations as it does to individuals.
Before you step out to communicate your value you must have a firm idea of who you are, what you do and why you are important to your cause, your clients and your community.
Having a strong sense of identity is critical.  It will guide how you work, what you say, who you engage and how and when you communicate.  In marketing this sense of identity is called branding and it influences how you deliver services as well as every aspect of your outreach.
In 2001 I worked for a national organization responsible for promoting community harmony among Australians from different cultural backgrounds.  The Federal Government had hand-picked high powered and accomplished professionals as Council members.  The organisation had dedicated and professional staff.  It had money and everyone expected big things. 
Within six or so years it had ceased to exist.  There were many reasons for its failure but a key one was it never defined its real purpose.  It never found a sense of brand which meant it lacked conviction when it entered the public domain.  A sad and visible result was a pattern of patchy and inconclusive communications.  At the time a friend seeing this wasted potential and lost opportunities summed it up concisely: if they want attention they must stand for something.
We are all aware of the big brands: McDonalds, QANTAS, Chanel, Bank of America, Lloyds of London and the like.  They behave in a consistent, certain way and when they speak they do so with clarity.  Small organizations need to have a similar sense of purpose or brand.  In fact it is even more important for them.  They lack the resilience and strength of larger organizations and unless they are strongly focused they are easily elbowed aside and overlooked.
Sometime ago I worked with a prominent community organization that provided in-home services for older people and disabled individuals.  The 35 person staff decided that to continue to succeed over the next 12 months collectively they had to come to:
  • Show a consistent purpose.
  • Deliver benefits clients, funding bodies, the media etc can readily see.
  • Deliver those benefits to a high standard day in, day out throughout the year.
  • Regularly reinvent the organization as community expectations changed.
  • Communicate constantly to staff, clients and the key groups that shaped their environment.
These five points provide a pretty clear roadmap of what an organisation – or brand - must do to move from being good to becoming great.
But finally a word of caution.  Do not confuse branding with logos, colours and symbols.  The best graphic designs in the world cannot replace a sense of corporate purpose, clarity or commitment.  These essentials must come first.  The fancy blueprints for business cards, websites, office signs and the like can usually wait so beware the marketer who claims they are the mandatory first step.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

PR on a Tiny Budget - Why I'm Writing A New Book

I am putting the finishing touches to my new book: PR on a Tiny Budget: How Not For Profits Can Communicate To Win Attention.

I'm motivated to write by one sad fact.  Today’s not for profits must be as good at marketing as they are at providing services.

In a perfect world sponsors, governments, communities and clients would know what  charities and others do and why they are important.  They would automatically give money, volunteer time and shower recognition on their staff. 
Unfortunately people are just too busy to naturally notice the good works going on around them each day.  They may catch an occasional glimpse but usually they are too time poor, cash strapped and attention deprived to notice and value the not for profits that enrich their communities.

On the other hand not for profits have wonderful individuals committed to doing something worthwhile, putting ‘something back’ or caring for others. Yet despite their enormous outpouring of time and effort, most strain to tell the stories of their great work.  Year in year out they grapple to win attention.  Put simply they fail to market themselves.

Why should this be so?  We live in the age of the marketer where selling yourself and what you do is essential for twenty-first century success. Silence may be golden but today it is rarely rewarding. Most not for profits lack the knowledge and skills to market or they devote insufficient effort or money to their communications. They are so busy just keeping afloat and providing essential services that outreach and promotion fall into the nice to have rather than the must have category.

This predicament can set up terrible anxiety and confusion for many managers and workers.  They know they must promote their organisation to attract more volunteers, carers, supporters and even clients. They know they must communicate to win funding and raise awareness of their issues and concerns.  But how and where can they find the talent, energy and effort, let alone the money to do all this?   
They face a dilemma and are caught between the rock of resources and the hard place of need. However there can be no place for weary resignation. Something must change.  In the post global financial crisis the long term survival of many not for profits in the end may come down to how they market as much as their good deeds.
So the reason for this new book.  It offers guidance - based on hard-won experience - on the essentials of effective marketing and the strategies and tactics needed to win the attention you deserve even though your budget is tiny. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hall of Valour: Current Campaign

I am currently involved with the national marketing campaign to promote the new Hall of Valour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.  The Hall of Valour holds Australia's national treasure of Victoria Cross medals, the highest award for bravery any Australian serviceman or woman can earn.

97 Australians have won the Victoria Cross and this new space tells their personal stories of courage, bravery and sacrifice in a dignified and moving way.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Wikileaks Winners ... So Far

Wikileak disclosures of US State Department cables dating back to the mid 1960s have dominated international news in recent weeks. 

As Governments around the world grapple with containing the damage from these revelations, there has been a slow build-up of public support for Wikileaks and its right to publish almost a quarter of a million leaked million cables. 

At this point it is hard to see who will emerge as victors in this battle for Internet control - if indeed anyone will. Certainly the US State Department and America's security officials must feel profoundly angry as Wikileaks continues to drip feed cables onto the Internet. Senior government officials from other countries in regular contact with US diplomats must be anxious as they peek inside their morning newspapers to see if they are featured in the latest disclosures.  

Julian Assange and his cronies are hardly winners at this stage.  Assange sits in a UK jail, awaiting extradition to Sweden and you can bet  intelligence efforts are full pace to hunt down those continuing to run the whistle blowing website.

The biggest winners may turn out to be those in government who were  always opposed to or nervous about the concept of Gov2.0.  The movement advocating greater government transparency through new digital media must surely have been battered in recent weeks.  Critics will now point to the Wikileaks' affair and say I told you so.   And they are likely to be supported by security agencies and nervous politicians anxious to avoid similar embarrassment in future.

The other winners are newspapers and they must be laughing. The leaked cables provide them with a flood of ready made stories and compelling content, and no-one is questioning their right to publish it.  

It seems government plans for social media have just hit the rock wall of national security in the most spectacular fashion and newspapers are back in business.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Making the Right First Impression

Two recent events confirmed for me the essentials of making the right first impression.

This week I had poor experiences with an advertising sales rep and a car salesman on first meeting. Both came on abruptly almost aggressively in their desire to do business.

They forgot consumers do not like to be rushed particularly when buying a new type of product for the first time or an expensive item. In their minds buyers always believe their decision making process takes the shortest route from interest to purchase.

And that route can be blocked when the seller comes on so strongly the buyer becomes uncomfortable. This may be head slapping basic stuff but it is sometimes forgotten.

The takeaway: always make a good first impression on first contact and then work from there.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Social Media Helps Share War Stories

I was recently interviewed on the US podcast The Marketing Edge.

The Marketing Edge is among the Internet's longest running marketing and public relations podcasts. It is hosted by Albert Maruggi, a communicator with 25 years experience in  marketing and PR in America's business, technology, health and public affairs sectors.  Albert is also a frequent speaker and conducts workshop sessions on new media.

We talked about using social media to share stories of the wartime  sacrifices of previous generations.  This comes from work I'm currently involved in with the Australian War Memorial in Australia's capital, Canberra. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Burson-Marsteller Study: Message Gap Analysis

Burson-Marsteller Study: Message Gap Analysis

This recent study quantifies the gap between the messages a company sends out and the messages  mainstream media and bloggers pick up on and report.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Get Management Support for Your PR Change

PR and marketing plans often fail because communicators do not sufficiently engage the boss in what they are doing.  Put simply:  fail to win senior management buy-in and watch your PR proposal die. Often times persuading the boss is the toughest part in the whole communications process.

Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin's new book Repositioning: marketing in an era of competition, change and crisis suggests the communications barriers between the top floor where funds are allocated and the shop floor where ideas are born often involve:
  • Cows: Never underestimate how tough it will be to get management sign-off  on  a new proposal that threatens someone else's favourite cow or worse still their cash cow. Future opportunities are often slaughtered on the altar of today's practices. 
  • Bad decisions:  People are reluctant to embrace new ideas that cause them embarrassment about decisions they have made in the past.
  • Egos:  Always factor in egos. The person in charge may regard an initiative as a threat to their authority or status.  They may either try to kill it or perhaps as bad to modify and brand it as their own.  Trout and Steve Rivkin point out this ploy can be like changing a cake recipe.  The cake may end up looking the same but it sure does not taste the same. 
Both authors have come up with strategies to help you convince the boss and the board, all no doubt won from years of dealing with senior managers.
  • The world has changed:  Include a section on how the world has changed upfront in your proposal.  This acknowledges previous decisions and past poor performance were  based on the best  information available at the time but now things are different.  It avoids directly confronting past mistakes, lack of action or earlier decisions that were just plain bad.
  • Educate  the boss:  Never, ever assume management knows about marketing, PR or communications or the latest trends.  Bring in an outside expert to advise them, give them a suitable book to read or arrange for them to meet someone from a successful (non-competing) organisation they admire.
  • Analogy:  Use the power of analogy to draw a comparison with others.  XYZ Company passed on trying something similar and look what happened to them. Given people are often motivated by loss rather than gain introduce a note of caution or alarm into the comparison.  However always end with of course they may not happen to us but...
  • Implement slowly:  Start slowly, pilot programs, use trials and always announce your victories.
Please share your ideas on persuading CEOs to support your PR or marketing initiatives.  

(Source Repositioning Pages 180 - 188)


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Repositioning Your Brand: Book Review

Repositioning: marketing in an era of competition, change and crisis
Easy read with practical information
is authored by US marketers Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin.

Both have written a book of uncommon wisdom for marketers in the post Global Financial Crisis world. 

It is hardly suprising Trout (and Rivkin) has produced this book now.  Communicators know that competition is fiercer than ever, budgets are under pressure and the old ways of communicating are under serious challenge. Since the 1980s Trout has been writing and offering solid, practical marketing ideas in compelling, clear prose for communicators of all descriptions.  My bookcase holds several of his earlier works and while their 80s and 90s covers now look dated and daggy each is well-read and much loved.

Repositioning calls on companies not to manufacture but to adjust the perceptions people have either of them or their competition.  Why?  Because people are complex creatures when it comes to communications. We are overloaded with information, few of us can tolerate confusion or risk, we lose focus easily and once we have made up our minds that’s pretty much it.  It is hard to move us from our existing attitudes so only by working within the framework of how people already think can organizations achieve sustainable results.

The authors suggest two basic strategies to get people to thinking differently about your brand.  Reposition the competition and/or go out all out to compete on a simply defined value proposition. Big companies often struggle to carry out either one. They are slower to turn around than the Queen Mary and because of their size and complexity many have trouble managing their way out of problems or managing their way into opportunities.   Of course big firms are well placed to compete on price.  However this is often a short-lived strategy and one only available to the bigger players.  For the rest of us someone else can always mark down the sales docket lower than we can, plus research shows most price promotions rarely succeed in the long run. 

Reframing the competition means hanging a negative on a rival to reflect a favourable comparison on ourselves.  Given most marketers are positive, upbeat souls and most managers are disinclined to controversy it can be difficult to steer an organization in this direction. Yet Trout and Rivkin cite examples in the olive oil, prestige cars, vodka and other industries showing how this strategy can fence in the competition.

We instinctively know successful marketers need to communicate value to the marketplace because as one chapter title proclaims “value is the name of the game”.  Value can come through doing something special, getting new technologies to the market first or stressing whole of life costs over mere purchase price. It can also come from adding premiums others cannot match or at its most basic by being  plain nice and helpful to your customers.

The book cautions repositioning is not easy.  It takes focus, management leading from the front and advertising and public relations combining in a linear, well thought out fashion.  The key ingredients for any repositioning strategy are time and commitment.

The book sells for $42.95?  Is it worth it?  It is to me.  Right now I am putting together a marketing strategy for an iconic project with high expectations.  It has involved many dedicated people for many years and the public has definite opinions.  I am sure Trout and Rivkin's insights will help me plan a better campaign. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

200,000 texts sent every second

200,000 texts sent every second

The popularity of text messaging has leapt three-fold in the past three years, with almost 200,000 text messages sent every second, the UN telecommunications agency has said.

A total of 1.8 trillion SMSs were sent in 2007, but in 2010, the number sent has jumped to 6.1 trillion

To read the full story on your mobile please use this link

To read the full story on a PC or Mac please use this link

Monday, October 4, 2010

What Have I Been Up To?

It's been almost a month since I last blogged. 

Since then I conducted two tele-workshops on PR for Lions Australia and I've been reading lots of books on marketing and communications.  

The latest is What Makes Us Tick  by well known and respected social researcher Hugh Mackay.  I'm half way through it and it's an insightful read on people's basic motivations.  In fact it's the type of book which should be compulsory for anyone working in communications or management.  

I'll post a review as soon as I have finished the book.

Monday, September 6, 2010

More Parliamentary Voices Should Improve Communication

Since the 21 August Federal Election, Australians have faced a unique political environment - a hung Parliament in which four Independent MPs hold the balance of power.  

This situation has already driven old style party machine politics off to the sidelines - at least for the moment.  Potentially it can lead to the most profound political transformation Australian voters have seen in decades.  Instead of only two approaches to matters of policy and politics - Labor and Liberal - there are now five ways to explore, talk about and resolve issues facing the country.  Labor, Liberal, Greens and the four Independents will each play to different sets of community interests.

It's early days yet.  But this change could prove organisationally healthy and  improve the national political discourse. Now more perspectives will be offered from  the speaker's podium and the interests of 20 million Australians may be better served by a diversity of opinions and voices.

What do you think?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Last Lion Roar

Last Saturday our Lions Club decided to disband. After seven years it  was a  sad occasion as our members gathered for the last time as Lions.

Some people will go on to other Lions Clubs. Others will look elsewhere  for opportunities to volunteer. In the end the busy lives we all lead caught up with us.  As a group we became increasingly unable to  find the time, energy and effort that being a member of one of the world's best known community organisations demands.  Busy careers, growing families and passing through different stages of  our lives overtook our good intentions. Rather than limping on, we collectively decided to call it quits. And that was despite the support from the Lions hierarchy which did everything to help the Club continue.

 In today's fractured  and frenetic community getting the loyalty and attention of a volunteer is impressive  Getting seven years from a volunteer is a real achievement. But there are more traditional souls who see being a member of Lions, Rotary or similar organisations as a lifelong  commitment akin to what used to be expected from Catholics or  Communists.

As we disband I would like to think that all sides in the Canberra volunteer triangle have benefited.  Individual members were able to multiply their personal efforts by drawing on  the support and camaraderie of tens of thousands of brother and sister Lions across the globe.

For nealry a decade the Lions organisation was able to tap into the services of well established career professionals with a wide range of talents.  But most importantly our local community - particularly older Australians from migrant backgrounds, young people entering the workforce and  people in the community sector - hopefully gained
a little something from our Club's efforts.

Friday, August 20, 2010

15 Key Questions Bosses Should Ask About PR

Most bosses intuitively know the power of PR.  However they are so busy running the business they focus on communications only when a crisis hits or when staff present a fresh PR proposal.  Most are willingly to leave the details to their PR professionals.

But by asking pointed questions a boss can quickly determine the value of any communications, PR or marketing proposal they are asked to approve:
  • Does this plan support my business or operational plan?
  • Does what it is being recommended build on our previous good work and avoid our past communications shortcomings?
  • Are my audiences clearly identified by geography, interests, beliefs or other common characteristics?
  • Are the messages we want to share clear, unambiguous and easy to understand? 
  • Could our information be misunderstood or misinterpreted and cause unintended consequences?  
  • Is our information persuasive and backed by evidence such as facts and figures, case studies but above all by stories of ordinary people who benefit from what we do?
  • How, when and where is information going to be delivered to audiences?
  • What opportunities do audiences have to offer their opinion?  
  • Is there a processes to improve communications based on feedback?
  • Are the communications tools proposed the right fit for the audience? 
  • Is there a mix of approaches so if one communications channel fails, others may work?
  • What is the communications timetable? 
  • Will we deliver consistent communications or are we communicating by episodes?
  • How will I know if this proposal is working?  
  • What is the process to monitor, measure, evaluate and adjust what is being proposed?
Bosses can't be expected to know everything particularly about the ins and outs of communications.  But they should able to ask penetrating questions when it comes to approving a new PR or marketing budget.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Radio: The Power of Promotion

I have long been an advocate of the power of radio.

Radio can be particularly powerful it combines advertising, editorial and promotion.

Last Saturday I was part of a regional radio promotion where I witnessed first hand the immediacy of the medium. Listeners to the station's morning program were invited to rush to a local shopping centre to claim a holiday giveaway prize. The first person - a young woman - turned up within minutes of the first announcement followed by others as the promotion continued throughout the day.

Advertising by itself may work. But you increase your chance of cut-through success when you combine it with a competition or incentive for listeners.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Keep Your Eye on Australia

Last month Canberra ad agency Grey Group Australia released its third Eye on Canberra survey.  

The survey comes out of the wider Eye on Australia survey which looks at Australians,  what's going on in their families and households and how they view the issues of the day.  

The Eye on Australia survey has been going 19 years and collects data from 998 people across the country by telephone and through the Internet.  This year's findings reveal some interesting insights:
  • While Australians are generally satisfied with their lives, people in Darwin are the most satisfied and those in Brisbane are the least satisfied of people living in capital cities.
  • Brisbane people are also the most likely to be concerned about the economic outlook for the coming year while residents in Darwin are the least concerned.
  • People aged 25 - 34 are the most concerned age group about the economy, perhaps suggesting those early in their careers, couples with young families and first home buyers feel vulnerable to any economic downturn.
  • 72% of Australians agree their family is becoming more important to them every year and 81% of us will sit down together and eat as a family.
  • Nearly three-quarters of us think there is not enough respect shown to older Australians and advertising does not portray our seniors properly - which is odd given baby boomers are the most cashed up group in our community.
The survey also ranked the major issues for Australians in the next five years.  The five top concerns on our minds in order are -  and probably why these subjects are getting attention in the current Election:
  • Lack of water and water management.
  • Climate change.
  • Unemployment and job security.
  • The cost of living and lower standards of living.
  • The health system and the increasing costs of health care.
When asked to describe our Australian values, being multicultural, easy going, free, living in a land of opportunity and being competitive are things that rate highly.  However we place less importance on being traditional or sophisticated, Australia as a world leader or living in a classless society.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Media Policy for Not For Profits

Recently I worked with a not for profit with member clubs spread across  two states to develop a policy to help clubs and the Executive manage proactive and reactive media relations.

The policy featured:
  • The objectives or why the organisation will engage the media in the coming 12 months. 
  • An encouragement for clubs to proactively engage their local media outlets as way of telling communities what they and the larger organisation is doing.
  • Tools to help clubs such as pre-packaged media backgrounders, fact sheets, templates, speaking points and standard paragraphs for media alerts and media releases.
  • Advice on how to access localised media contact lists.
  • Guidance on handling media relations in crisis and advocacy situations.
  • A media release review process - for all levels - so key players in the organisation know what is to be presented to journalists and what might make news.
  • Tips for recycling earned media coverage so that office holders, members and key supporters know what the press is reporting.
  • Social media guidelines so what is presented online is consistent with what is presented to traditional media.   
And because it is often so expensive, a media policy should spell out the why, when and where  advertising will be undertaken and how it will be blended with media relations.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Basic Behaviours Improve PR

Sometimes not for profits ask what is the single best thing they can do to improve their PR.

Actually there are three key behaviours that can boost your PR performance right now irrespective of what sector you operate in.

The first is come up with a plan and know where you want to be in the hearts and minds of your audience in the future. Childishly simple? Yes. But how many people actually have a framework to guide their future communications actions? Regrettably not many. If I asked you to
go get your plan right now, could you do it?

The second thing is likewise elementary: just get started. Perhaps the
biggest single barrier to successful communications is organizational
inertia. As the Nike logo says "just do it". Don't overthink the
issue, get started, learn, grow and improve along the way.

The third element is start early and act often. Just when you are weary with what you are doing and what to change, the folks "out there" are probably just starting to get it.

Everything in marketing and PR will take longer than you think because you are dealing with people, their attitudes and behaviour. People are complex so why would anyone think that communicating with them should be simple.

Certainly there is nothing glamourous in these thoughts but most often our mental attitude puts the brakes on our PR.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Broadcast Your Own News

The world of communications is changing fast...

I recently came across Citizen Tube which is a feed of the latest breaking news videos on YouTube. Citizen journalists - or for that matter anyone - can upload content of what they consider newsworthy and bang through this channel it's out there for the world to see. 

Citizen Tube is supported by a Twitter account - @citizentube.

How times change.  Just five years ago you might report a story or an incident to your local paper or TV station, only to be told it was not newsworthy.  That meant someone else's judgement effectively "killed" the story and its circulation stopped dead - consigned to you and whoever else you might happen to tell, email or text.  

Now you can record something through a flip cam or mobile phone, upload it and it's online as your version of the news forever for anyone anywhere to view.  

Now wonder tradtional media gatekeepers are nervous.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The PR of Changing PMs

This past week has has been history making in Australian politics. In a late night party coup Kevin Rudd was dumped as Prime Minister and within 24 hours his deputy Julia Gillard became Australia's first female Prime Minister.

In public relations actions always speak louder than words, so it will be instructive to see the impact of these events in the minds and attitudes of ordinary citizens ... in the lead-up to the next election and beyond.

Most likely we will see self referential communications come into play.  For those who like Mr Rudd last week's events will be seen as dastardly and disloyal.  To those who support Ms  Gillard they will have been necessary actions to get the Government and Australia back on track. 

However the rest of us - the so called silent majority - may feel a little queasy about the way Mr Rudd met his fate.  Australians pride themselves on giving everyone a "fair go".  In the workplace or market place the treatment Mr Rudd received - instant dismissal - is usually  reserved for those who commit criminal offences or whose performance seriously endangers the safety of others.

In the long run and in public relations terms the "Rudd dismissal" may have more impact on shaping how people view the character of politicians than on any changes it causes in government.