A PR Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 6 – A chat with the new PRIA National President

In this episode I speak to newly appointed National President of the Public Relations Institute of Australia – Sylvia Bell.

Listen here or download on iTunes

“It is a really important industry in that it gives voice to people, issues and programs that otherwise wouldn’t happen”

Sylvia, who originally studied science, has for the past two decades worked in both in-house and consulting roles across the education, health and sciences sector.

As a former member on the NSW PRIA Council, a fellow of PRIA and Chief Judge of the Golden Target Awards for the past two years, Sylvia brings a deep knowledge and passion for the industry.

Sylvia has a clear mission in her role as PRIA President;  to advocate for the profession and be an authentic voice for the trends emerging in communications not only among the direct membership but the broader corporate community.

In this podcast, Sylvia also discusses:

  • Her commitment to continuing to build a PRIA community of practice, providing education and networking opportunities for practitioners at all levels.
  • The importance of measurement and evaluation, citing the recently launched PRIA Measurement and Evaluation Framework to really measure the impact of your programs
  • The PRIA Professional Development Framework and how this could form the basis of a more formal designation in the future.
  • The value of Awards such as the Golden Target Awards in breeding an increase in quality across the profession.

In the news this week I recap the Cannes Lions Awards and discuss some of my favourite campaigns.

Blog: Taking inspiration from awards

The 2018 Cannes Lions Awards have been won and run for another year and it’s worth checking out some of the great campaigns and ideas.

Despite the ongoing debate and disappointment that many of the PR campaigns continue to be attributed to advertising agencies, there are some great ideas that are a tribute to the continued evolution of the practice of public relations.

Grand Prix Winner Trash Isles is clearly a great campaign, centred around the creative idea of transforming a pile of trash in the middle of the ocean into an officially recognised country – complete with a currency!

A few other personal favourites were:

  • Turning Beer into Water where Anheuser-Busch re-tooled its production line to produce canned water (rather than beer) to deliver fresh drinking water to people caught up in natural disasters from California to the Gulf Coast.
  • KFC ‘FCK’  where simply changing one letter in their name, and authentically responding to (literally) running out of chicken, turned a crisis into a great PR stunt.
  • The Most German Supermarket saw a German supermarket, to showcase the importance of diversity in this age of Trump and Brexit, open a store with groceries it would sell if they banned ingredients from other countries (i.e. not many)

As we’ve heard across a number of podcasts, creativity is an important currency for all PR practitioners. So awards like these provide a great source of inspiration to keep challenging the status quo.

Next month I’ll be judging the PRIA Golden Target Awards and look forward to seeing many great local campaigns.

A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 5 – Creating a tribe of change makers

Why after 120 years don’t we have a universally accepted definition of public relations? According to UK pracademic (practitioner and academic) Andy Green it is because we have been asking the wrong question.

Andy is spearheading what has been called, The Dublin Conversation. As described in my earlier blog There’s something going on in the world of comms, this includes proposed definitions of PR, comms, advertising and brand and is a starting point for 100 conversations in 100 days.

Listen now or download on iTunes

After seven years of struggling to arrive at a definition for public relations that was fit for purpose, Andy finally realised that previous thinking was blinkered in trying to define PR in isolation rather than as part of a bigger universe.

In this podcast, Andy discusses a new theoretic PR canvas, based on the work by Nobel prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman who identified that five things govern all social interaction – being known, liked, trusted, front of mind and being talked about.

According to Andy, and as detailed in the Dublin Conversation, these conditions form the foundation stone of any communication campaign as you are invariably looking to do these five things.

On that canvas – which we are all operating whether you are in public relations, advertising, digital marketing or any ‘comms’ role – there are then four channels of interaction: paid, earned, social, owned (PESO).

In this world of ‘comms’, advertising and PR work in polarity of each other with advertising being born out of the need to be known and PR out of the need to be trusted. In other words, advertising leads with paid (PESO) and PR has earned at its core (ESOP).

At the heart of PR is earned trust and PR five prime activities:

  1. Managing the activity of earning, growing and measuring trust
  2. Champion of corporate listening to its wider environment
  3. Advice and counsel on brand character
  4. Building social capital
  5. Managing narrative, storytelling, media relations, and content marketing or inbound PR

The reality of existing PR practice is that we tend to focus on the last point, so by broadening this out further creates a whole new extended platform of future PR practice

The good news, this validates existing global definitions of public relations but also gives us as practitioners greater clarity and focus on what we can/should deliver in practice and always with earned trust as the cornerstone of what we do.

Join the conversation here, or write a comment below. I look forward to the debate.

Blog: In an age of distrust; trust matters

A survey released by Roy Morgan last week found the ABC is by far Australia’s most trusted media organisation.

Trust in the ABC was driven by its lack of bias, quality journalism and ethics. It is an interesting result after further cuts to the ABC budget in the May Federal Budget and recent speculation that it may be privatised.

Roy Morgan spoke to 4000 Australians and asked then which brands they trust and which they distrust.

At the other end of the spectrum Facebook – and social media in general – is deeply distrusted by the Australian public.

Social Media has what Roy Morgan calls a Net Trust Score of minus 42%.

To put that in context, the banking industry, which has been battered by the Royal Commission, has a Net Trust Score of only minus 18 so that shows you the level of distrust in social media in an age when fake news has become a common meme.

Roy Morgan outlines 5 reasons why distrust matters:

  • Distrust triggers audience churn
  • Distrust kills audience engagement
  • Distrust kills advertiser spend
  • Distrust is the tipping point for reputational damage
  • Distrust is the bellweather for an unsustainable future

The Walkley Foundation in its recent submission to the ACCC digital media inquiry said: “Fake news is simply easier. Shaping a fake story takes less time than digging out true stories. In fact, it’s so simple that bots can do it. This means that the sheer volume of manufactured news overwhelms true news.”

However, the rise of fake news has eroded trust – especially in social media – and according to Roy Morgan the rise of distrust can have significant commercial implications.

 

 

BLOG: There’s something big going on in the world of Comms

You may not be aware but the very foundations on which public relations has been built is being discussed, debated and (potentially) redefined.

The Dublin Conversation, as it has been called, is a 100 day challenge (starting from May 22) to make sense of how public relations practice needs to evolve and change because “there has never been a more critical need for a redefined, revitalised and rejuvenated public relations”.

I’d encourage you to get involved here.

In a whitepaper to start the conversation, UK-based PR practitioner Andy Green, with help from numerous supporters, outlines seven steps to understand why the Dublin Conversation is needed. At a high level these are:

  1. What was previously an academic debate about ‘What is public relations?’ is now an urgent task for our society.
  2. You need to be looking from somewhere completely different to define ‘public relations’. It’s emergent.
  3. We have witnessed the emergence of the ‘Comms’ era and need to evolve the PESO model
  4. You cannot define ‘Public Relations’ in isolation – it exists and works in polarity with advertising
  5. Earned trust is the pivotal touchstone for public relations – and validates existing accepted definitions
  6. Public Relations activity is scoped by the process of earning trust
  7. It’s urgent. We need to begin an emergent, bottom-up conversation for change

And the goal at the end is to come up with a Dublin Definition on Public Relations which in its current (draft) form is:

Public relations is born out of the need to earn trust for any social interaction. Effective Public Relations creates better influence, relationships, reputation, social capital and word-of-mouth conversations.

Public Relations operates in a ‘Comms’ environment, working alongside advertising and other communication disciplines to achieve familiarity by making you more known, liked, trusted, front-of-mind, or being talked about through using Own, Shared, Earned, or Paid-for channels.

The goal is to encourage a bottom up debate to refine and evolve this draft definition, and debate and agree the underlying principles, with the outcome to be presented a major international PR conference in October in, you guessed it, Dublin.

The paper builds on current theoretical models, brings in new concepts and approaches and most importantly looks to link theory to practice.

There will no doubt be things in here you disagree with, things you may not have known, things you may not have thought about, or things you may have been championing for many years.

For every practitioner, there is a clear call to action to get the Dublin Conversation going:

  1. Reflect on what you currently define as ‘public relations’. Compare and contrast with the draft Dublin Definitions
  2. If you have new feelings, insights or ideas share them at www.prplace.com
  3. Spread the word. Tell at least two people.

I hope at least two people reading this put their views forward. I am certainly be adding my views and I am excited to see how this debate evolves.

 

A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 4 – Continuing Education

At its core, public relations is a set of vocational skills that can best be learnt by doing, that is the view of Sarah Mason who shares with us the mission of HSPR in helping improve the professional standards of the PR industry.

Listen below or download on iTunes

HSPR is the only Registered Training Organisation dedicated to the PR sector and helps deliver professional development to emerging practitioners, career progressors, senior executives and career changes who may be coming to PR for the first time later in life.

Sarah has a clear passion for the professionalisation of the PR sector which she believes will  help attract a more diverse workforce, new ideas, new thinking, new perspectives and help keep good practitioners in the industry longer by supporting them to do great work.

In this discussion we touch on:

What makes a good grad: It is all about attitude and a willingness to keep learning

How to teach ethics: It’s common sense – do as you would be done by and be true to yourself

Skills that as an industry that we need to get better at: Creative thinking is our industry’s currency. Creativity is really the only thing that can differentiate us

Diversity: We need to step out of our echo chamber and build a deeper understanding of our audience we are speaking to

Digital and social: Our skillset remains the same just broadening opportunity to engage directly with stakeholders

You can find our more about HSPR and its courses here and follow Sarah Mason on LinkedIn

And do you believe PR is a Bullshit Job?

In the news this episode I look at a new book by David Graeber, an anthropology professor at the London School of Economics, who says over half of all jobs today – including PR – are BS jobs.

 

 

Blog: The rise and demise of Sir Martin Sorrell

It’s been a month since Sir Martin Sorrel was ousted from the head of the global agency holding group WPP.

He built the world’s largest advertising agency and in the process became an accidental PR mogul, whose empire grew to include some of Australia’s (and the world’s) biggest PR agencies, including Ogilvy, Hill & Knowlton and Burson-Marstellar.

A lot has been written and said over the rise and demise of Sir Martin Sorrell, so here’s five articles that give a good snapshot of one of the most unexpected industry stories this year:

  1. The New Yorker on the rise, reign and fall of Martin Sorrell
  2. Arun Sudhaman and the Holmes Report give a wrap of industry response to the news
  3. An insider’s guide to working with Marin Sorrell
  4. David Brain on Martin Sorrell’s advocacy for agency model
  5. The Wall Street Journal on why WPP may be better off without Martin Sorrell

But it may not be all over yet with the FT reporting Sir Martin Sorrell may ‘start again’.

A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 3 – The PR Warrior

In Episode 3 of Smoke Signal I speak with Trevor Young, a.k.a. the PR Warrior

Listen below or download on iTunes

 

Trevor is well known on the PR circuit, having been a practitioner for over two decades, a regular speaker at industry events, and one of Australia’s earliest PR bloggers and tweeters. His blog, PR Warrior was ranked in the world’s top 100 PR blogs to follow in 2018 (#33).

The lines between PR and content marketing have certainly merged in recent years. In fact, in a recent global PR survey (which I speak more about in the In The News section of this podcast); nearly two-thirds of PR practitioners surveyed believe that in five years the average consumer will not be able to tell the difference between paid, earned and owned media.

In this context Trevor Young talks about the need for brands (and individuals) to embrace content marketing as a way to deeply engage and influence consumers.

Trevor defines content marketing as “strategically creating, publishing and amplifying original content that is of interest, relevance and value to a specific audience with an ultimate goal of influencing a desired outcome.”

He believes it is VITAL (Visibility, Influence, Trust, Advocacy and Leadership) that individuals and brands use the tools that we have available to make a connection with the audiences that are important to you.

Trevor admits today there is a lot of junk content out there but the common denominator among organisations who do it well is passion. They embrace it and have a culture of content in their organisation.

We discuss the different types of content and that while utility-based content (FAQs, informational needs, addressing pain points etc) is useful, and every organisation needs to do that, it is through leadership content where you can really set yourself apart by pushing the boundaries and inspiring people to think differently.

And the biggest mistakes when it comes to content marketing: wanting instant results;  doing things as a campaign (it is not a campaign); and succumbing to pressure to repeatedly talk about your own products and services (follow the 80:20 rule).

You can follow Trevor Young on twitter (@trevoryoung), on LinkedIn or via his blog.

A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 2: The Creativity Coach

In this episode Andy Eklund, a.k.a. the Creativity Coach, takes us into the wonderful world of creativity.

Listen now or download on iTunes

According to Andy, who defines business creativity as the act of combining two different ideas in an unusual way to create something unique, useful or new, creativity is one of the most important life skills that everyone should learn. He believes it should also be taught in schools!

Creativity seems and ever more important skill for PR practitioners where creativity is becoming more and more vital as brands look to differentiate themselves and cut through the clutter.

Andy currently runs his own creativity coaching business, having held both in house and agency roles, including Global Creative Director for Burson Marsteller in the 1990’s where he was involved in 4-6 brainstorms a day.

According to Andy brainstorming gets a bad wrap. In reality brainstorming is simply the act of your brain coming up with an idea – whether that’s in a formal team setting or a chat in the hallway.

Some of his tips on brainstorms that he discusses in this podcast are:

  • You need ice breakers to help participants become creative
  • Understand 90/10 rule – it’ll take at least 10 ideas to get one good one
  • To brainstorm in the absence of the audience is a complete waste of time

We also discuss the fact that while creativity is a right side of the brain, it also requires discipline and consistency that is left brain thinking. And relax, creativity can be taught, you just have to really want to learn.

In the news this week we look at what feels like the only story going around – the Facebook Cambridge Analytica controversy. The story has continued to roll on since I wrote this blog and it shows no sign of since Mark Zuckerberg appeared in front of Congress to admit guilt and apologise.

There is no doubt a lot more to come on this story but restoring trust will be a key challenge now for Facebook.

If you enjoy this podcast then do be sure to check out Andy’s blog www.andyeklund.com where you can get a lot more tips on creativity.

 

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