Why Public Relations Needs to Change Due to Online Communication Developments

Up until today, Public Relations has largely been viewed as a way of sharing an organization’s news with their public in order to build a positive image. To communicate the organization’s view through channels other than advertising. To build credibility. Sadly, this also means that the “relations” component in “Public Relations” is basically one-way: from the organization to the public. In many cases this has reduced PR to a tool in the Marketing toolbox. But now organizations are forced to evaluate Public Relations in a different light due to the evolution of online communication.

In the course of history, technological advances have often had a profound effect on human communication. Newspapers, the radio, telephone, television: all are examples of how communication has changed through technological progress. However, the greatest changes are often brought about when individuals start applying technology in new ways. Currently, we are experiencing exactly such a communication (r)evolution. The World Wide Web was originally designed as an information-sharing structure: static web pages connected through hyperlinks. But in recent years this has changed radically.

First websites became more dynamic – weblogs being the best example: blogs produce dynamic sites, a means to share information on a changing basis . Now, everybody with internet access has a (possibly global) publishing platform. Then the sites became more interactive, for example through comments one can leave at a blog thus enabling discussions, conversations. The rise of social sites (such as Facebook, MySpace and the like), created communities online where people shared their interests, and more importantly: their views and opinions. Real-time global conversations are now very common.

The internet has now become a global interaction platform with huge consequences for all organizations. This is because – internet or not – if someone is interested in something (product, service or anything else), this person starts looking for information. And decisions are primarily based on the opinions of people they trust. Because of the way the internet is currently used, these “trusted sources” can be, and often are, from anywhere in the world. And they can be basically everyone. No longer is an organization itself the sole or even primary source of information about their own product, service or philosophy.

Organizations will have to change their communication whether they want to or not. This change is simply too large to ignore. With virtually every individual having access to a global publishing and discussion platform, the published opinions of every person have a potential global impact. And possibly a very large impact at that. There are already many examples available, with people complaining or singing praise of an organization online.

Organizations need to reassess every communication they have with everybody, one-to-one or one-to-many. And even within the organization itself. A single customer service call can turn into a Public Relations success-story or nightmare. Everyone, everywhere in the organization needs to be aware of this, but general management in particular. In this light, the name “Public Relations” says it all: the relations (every single one of them) with the public (every single individual). True Public Relations now goes far beyond mere marketing.

Public Relations online is not about ‘including online channels to send a press release to’. In fact, PR shouldn’t be about press releases in the first place. Public Relations in a strategic sense needs to be concerned with every aspect of building relations with the public and monitoring the interactions of the public among itself regarding your organization. Today, Public Relations needs to be concerned with monitoring and listening as much as with ‘sending’. Public Relations is now a valuable management discipline instead of a marketing tool. The current development of the internet has made Public Relations into a vital communication strategy, but only if PR people and management understand its changing role and adapt their strategies accordingly.

Entrepreneurs! Public Speaking is Your Best Marketing and Public Relations Tool

As an entrepreneur, I have invested a ton of money in marketing and public relations. From the must-have materials such as brochures and business cards, to the website, blog and e-zine, to those overblown marketing training programs that promise an endless parade of clients and customers.

But the most efficient, cost-effective, comprehensive, creative and reliable tool I have ever found is public speaking. In one short 20 to 40 minute segment of time, you can attract more clients, initiate more sales and create more business opportunities than three months worth of direct mail, networking and press release submission.

Here’s 7 reasons why public speaking beats out every other marketing and public relations tool:

1. You Are the Expert

I don’t know why but if you are speaking in front of a group, everyone assumes you are an expert. Even if you screw up, trip over your words, it doesn’t matter. If you are willing to stand up and speak while giving people useful information, you will become known as the expert in your field.

2. 100 New Relationships

If you attend a networking event, you may make two or three contacts with potential clients. But if you are the one speaking at that event, you establish a relationship with hundreds of potential customers. Everyone in your audience now knows who you are and what you offer, and it is this familiarity that makes it easy for them to contact you and for you to contact them.

3. Immediate Trust

When you speak to a group, you can establish an immediate relationship of trust and credibility with an entire audience, and that trust results in people wanting to do business with you. That trust is created when you speak with openness, honesty and authenticity.

4. Perfect Excuse for a Second Date

Your speech is your “first date” with your audience. Now, ask them for a second date! In other words, after your speech, you have the prefect reason to contact each member of your audience and offer them an opportunity to do business or engage with you in some way.

5. Make Money Now!

There are entrepreneurs who do nothing but speak to groups and sell products and services at the back of the room. You can do that, too. Bring your products and offer them at a “one-day only” discount to attendees. If you don’t have a product, offer a service or training for a special price if they register today.

6. Tell the Media

Giving a speech is a great way to attract media attention and get your name in print. Send press releases to local newspapers and even internet press services. Just be sure that your press release emphasizes the benefit your speech provides rather than how great your business is.

7. Leverage That Speech

If you tape your speech you can use it over and over in any number of ways. Create a CD that you can either give to potential clients or sell for a small fee. If you record a video of your speech you can post a clip of it on your website. Use the material of your speech to create while papers and articles. Whatever you do, let that speech work for you beyond that one-time live performance.

So, call up your local community service or professional group and ask to speak at their next meeting. You will find that no other marketing tool can match the power of public speaking.

A Fashion Public Relations Representative For You

Fashion is something that is ever changing and it can be difficult to keep up with current trends. If you are part of a company that sells clothes and accessories that you may want to find a Fashion Public Relations company to suit your individual needs.

Public relations is also known by the shorthand PR. When people think of it they usually think of a something going wrong that needs to be dealt with, whether it is someone bad mouthing their own products or getting involved in a controversial court case. This particular type of PR is also referred to as crisis management. However it is just one aspect of the work of a representative.

A lot of companies offering this kind of representation and you should be able to compare between the different ones on offer to see which is best for you. This is not as simple as looking at a typical product comparison as it is not always obvious who suits your particular needs. A sensible approach will help you find someone that fits the image of your company.

The size of the firm is the first thing to consider. Your budget may restrict you from getting certain firms on board. A larger company may not necessarily be better as in some cases this can mean more bureaucracy and a less personal approach. Smaller firms will not only be cheaper but also more likely to offer a more hands on style of representation. If they are new it is even more likely that they will be keen to impress.

When looking at possible representation look beyond the website and pay close attention to the case studies and media placements they produce. Does it suit the image that you are going for? Will it appeal to your target audience? The advertising for women in their early twenties will be different to men in their late twenties and so forth.

During an initial contact with a potential representative be sure to ask them how they see the brand. Do not tell them who you think the target market is, instead see how they react and whether it matches or your ideas. If their ideas are completely different to yours then it is unlikely they will be a positive match and offer the best representation.

Some firms will specialize in certain areas. For example some will be stronger at online campaigns whereas others will be better at creating print or television campaigns. If you feel your target audience are more likely to look at magazines than online then you are better off finding someone who can do better magazine adverts and focus your attention on that rather on an online campaign.

Choosing the right Fashion Public Relations representative is a personal choice. Ideally you should try to meet them in person to be able to discuss your needs and to see if they have that communication skill. A good representative should have the communication skills to be able to pitch to you in person!