No doubt our clients have just completed a rough year and are about to close 2009 cautiously optimistic about the year ahead. As PR professionals, there’s a bit of instinct to apply here in terms of how we’ll manage our clients differently in the start of 2010.
Below are a few predictions or realizations I believe we’ll have to face as we build our campaigns for the New Year.
Prioritization in planning
Our client executives and Board of Directors at any <insert company here> will come back from the holiday break with guns blazing. Don’t be afraid of creating a campaign with a quick wow factor for Q1. Be proactive when writing your 2010 plans and apply campaigns that will create a quick ROI – i.e., awareness, new relationships via social media channels. When advising our clients on how to structure their road maps, launches and news distributions, consider how you can tap into current events to leverage more timely results.
With the rise of social media and reporters demanding ever more customized pitches, it will be important to convey the importance of brevity to our clients. We should be able to articulate what the news is in one sentence, explain the larger business benefit in the second sentence, and wrap it up with a third sentence about why the reporter should care. If that’s not possible, then it’s time to edit more ruthlessly. Cut the marketing speak.
Consider the social media effect
Remember that it’s okay to counsel our clients, albeit with care, regarding when news isn’t news and how each announcement should consider a different type of media distribution. A fluffy release or an irrelevant executive Q&A pitch can end up as a front-page social media laughingstock instantly. We might not always win these battles, but it is our job to tell them the war stories that are out there, the companies who get banished by prestigious thought leaders, bloggers and reporters. Use examples and provide alternative suggestions to make the most of their suggested news hook.
You dictate social media strategy, not the other way around
Getting control of the social media plan or working with all the groups involved (marketing, advertising, customer service) will be a crucial element to PR this year. We will have to open up the dialogue with many internal departments and even other agencies to make social media efforts effective and cohesive for our clients. Think about what value we can add to these other marketing functions, on how we can counsel on relationship building and targeting different audiences. Remember to see things from a reporter’s perspective. If you know something isn’t going to work, don’t let the client be the butt of a writer’s joke. Be vocal and collaborative.
Start to educate yourself now
As PR people, our function is no longer just as content developers and media/analyst liaisons. We have to be able to speak about brand defense, application development, mobile marketing and rich media. Understand the basic elements and think of creative ways to tie your PR plans into supporting and promoting these priorities for companies.
Back to our roots for biz dev
If we want to continue to be successful as PR agencies, professionals and consultants, we have to remember that business development is about relationships. And as lines blur between the topics mentioned in No. 5 above, it will be even more valuable to build long-standing partnerships to keep the client work at your table. Outsourcing everything so you can offer a sushi boat of services isn’t always the answer. Consider finding powerful partners that you can collaborate with and trust. If you bring in a major brand, connect them with a rock star lineup of app developers, designers, brand consultants, marketing agencies, etc… In time, your partners and clients will benefit and return the favor by sticking with you.