Posted by Leo Tignini
Thanks to the Public Relations Initiative and all the people who voted, I now have a definition of what I do so my mom and dad (or kids for that matter) can talk somewhat intelligently about my employment. As you might have heard, it has been decided that Public Relations has just redefined itself as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” Sounds great, less filling. Now, please remind me how this changes anything?
The truth is, the PR industry has had identity crises for some time. Having worked at several PR agencies for well over a decade, the one common denominator was that they all fell short of promoting their work – which is not to say, they didn’t do great work. Although we might not have the same sexy visual appeal as advertising, PR is very much “a see it to believe it” industry.
I was recently reminded of this shortcoming when I began writing a collection of case studies for DiGennaro Communications. I thought a good starting point for my research would be to look at case studies across all facets of the PR industry as a frame of reference. Unsurprisingly, this task wasn’t very easy. Case studies were outdated, lacked detail and in many cases (no pun intended) were difficult to find on agency websites.
This is the root of the problem. It’s not about definitions and wordplay. While you can play around with the definition of public relations all you want, we need to SHOW how our stories changed the way people live and do business – one client at a time. Focus on the experience not the definition. Besides, PR is beyond definition.
Social media channels are presenting us with more opportunities to strut our stuff more than ever. There is an abundance of opportunity to SHOW not TELL. There is a method to our madness that can only be explained through visual case studies, a deeper focus on numbers/metrics client vignettes and testimonials, and of course, word of mouth.
Posted by Leo Tignini
Forgive my artistic license of interpretation, but there is a great line in Gladiator that can apply to the brand advertising world — “Win the crowd, you will win your freedom.” If you remember, this was said to Maximus (Russell Crowe) by his mentor before leading a band of gladiators to fight against the emperor’s men in the Coliseum.
Conventional brand advertising wisdom isn’t much different and often dictates that empowering your customers is a great starting point for success. This involves much more than just adhering to the old cliché that the customer is always right. In today’s Facebook generation, brands are starting to understand that consumers want social empowerment – they want to take credit for discovering that cool app their friends would want to use. Brands are deliberately blurring the proverbial line between themselves and the people they sell to for the benefit of getting their story told by the most influential people of all – their customers. If done right, consumer advocacy can be the most powerful tool in a brand’s arsenal.
According to Dietmar Dahmen, a Vienna, Austria-based ad man who was previously creative chief with BBDO (Vienna) and executive creative director at Ogilvy (Vienna), the best way to earn a thumbs-up from your audience is to address both your brand and your consumer in your advertising efforts. And the best way to think about this is from your consumer’s point of view.
With this in mind, Dahmen has created a system that lets a brand tell its story, making sure that the consumer sees it, loves it, uses it and promotes it.
One of the pillars of this system is called “My–vertising.” Focusing on the location and preferences of a consumer, My-vertising puts the individual in the center of the program. Imagine an app that shows a dog-owner only dog-friendly restaurants in his/her vicinity that are open now–that’s My-vertising. It cuts through the dense woods of over-information, showing you a few needles, but not the whole haystack.
As a result, My-vertising maximizes ego-relevance, and makes a consumer feel important because of what it does for his/her personal brand. This extends to sharing information about a brand on Twitter or Facebook. As Dahmen points out, Mike Arauz famously said: “’If I tell my friend about your brand, it’s not because I like your brand, but because I like my friend’ is just one more ‘I’ added to the already five I’s and my’s. Plus, I look cool doing so.”
Sharing information through social media is just another, sometimes faster, way of building one’s image.
We have to always remember that social advertising is essentially non-social. People collect friends to look cool, and they share information with those friends so they can be heroes to others. Your brand can help your consumers do that, and they will be grateful if it does.