PR Shift – Sharing is Caring

Paul Holmes, founder and chair of The Holmes Group, covered an ICCO Global Summit in Helsinki the other day – 5 October. Paul has written about Public Relations for 25 years, and this week wrote about Ketchum Chairman and CEO, Rob Flaherty’s, address on the way PR practices are shifting to best utilise social media sharing.

“We had this amazing skill, we knew the media and we knew what news was, and we could feed it to gatekeepers. But what happens to the role of gatekeeper in the absence of a fence? The most important way news happens today is by sharing. A recommendation from a friend is the most credible source of news today, at a time when the credibility of a traditional gatekeeper has been declining.”

I was lucky enough to have training in Public Relations that emphasised a couple basic points – always tell the truth, and you’re no longer in control of what happens to your message after you’ve set it loose. Many PR practitioners unfortunately kept a very “marketing” mentality about communication, in that the goal is to create a message, align it with the brand, lock it down so the brand or message can’t be tarnished and, finally, get it to market.

These traditional types must be rocking in a corner somewhere mumbling about the latest negative Facebook review.

It’s easy for a marketing message to become misconstrued, taken out of context or tarnished by rare business mistakes in the social media world. But that’s life now. On the other hand, it’s much easier for our target audience to celebrate, discuss and share the positive aspects and experiences without us shelling out small fortunes for promotional materials.

To me, PR has always been about the honesty and integrity of a business. Less about what we say in marketing, and more about what we do in business. Marketing is merely piece of the PR pie that is responsible for creating action-based messages about the best part of a company, distributing it to market efficiently, then putting hands-in-pockets to see what happens.

This PR shift might be a teeth-grinder for some, but I believe we’ll come out feeling like social media purveyance is a positive dynamic with huge potential to increase return on investment into communications activities.

If we love our company, its communications, or our client’s love their business…it’s time to set the messaging free. Put it into the hands of our market. Let them say good things and bad things about what we do. In the end, it’s not the marketers with hands-in-pockets that will gain market share. It’s good PR that will help align business performance, community perception and marketing messages to create a powerful, digital word-of-mouth.

“We need to spend more time on the promise keeping, not the promise making.” – Rob Flaherty

Read Holmes’ full article here – ICCO Summit: How PR Changes In A World Where News Happens Through Sharing

Ketchum Chariman and CEO, Rob Glaherty addressing the ICCO Global Summit in Helsinki (Photo credit – Peter Forsgard)

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