Public Relations In An Increasingly Public World

It used to be that public relations wasn’t actually all that public.

You would call up your favorite reporter or editor at the local newspaper and pitch a story to them, or send something via a glacial fax machine. In those days, the public generally learned from you through the mainstream media, not as a direct result of you delivering your message.

“Public relations has really been about media relations,” says Todd Defrens of SHIFT Communications.

Social media and the prolonged illness of the journalism industry has profoundly transformed the landscape. The traditional connection between reporters and PR specialists is still valuable, but these days, it doesn’t pay to ignore Twitter and other means that allow you to get your message out to a large audience with immediate results.

In this, the tenth of our series of blogs about the Inbound Marketing University classes, we tackle the transformation of the world of PR. Our instructor is Defrens , and he’ll take us through today’s lesson.

Community Public Relations

The example Defrens uses is a neighborhood potluck. If you’re the new guy on Elm Street, you want to strike a balance between being the wallflower—pure listening and tentative PR work—and the blowhard who floods the market with his incessant chatter. You want to take the time to learn about your customers, like the new guy clutching a plastic bowl of potato salad would do, and then share a little bit about yourself.

You have to meet them halfway. People who want to become your customers have to put in the work to learn about your company and become a customer, Defrens said, which means you have to provide them with the tools, the information and the enthusiasm to walk that road.

“It’s hard work to become a customer,” Defrens said.

The listening piece is a big part of that. Browse consumer blogs and message boards and see what people are talking about. If you’re in the fast food industry and people are talking about healthy food options, you’ll want to emphasize your restaurant’s forays into salads and granola, not your five hamburger patty, ten slice of bacon “Heartbreaker.”

Weigh in on this advice in the comments.

About the Author

Dave Choate is the lead writer for BizEngine, longtime blogger and voracious reader of all things business and news. Dedicated to delivering small business news, information and analysis that matters.

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