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Different Schools of Communication Have Plenty To Teach Each Other

October 31, 2012 Leave a comment

At the Global PR Summit in Miami this week, I was fortunate enough to sit in on a panel discussion called “It’s a Conversation, Not a Campaign: What Marketers Can Learn From PR.” The panel featured C-suite communications executives from the likes of Lenovo and Proctor & Gamble discussing how traditionally separate communications disciplines are becoming more and more integrated in today’s digital world.

That is, marketers must learn to speak the language of PR and social media to meaningfully engage today’s consumers. The top piece of information most public relations practitioners (83% of those surveyed) think marketers need to learn is that reputation is a consequence of the authentic behavior of an organization.

This lesson was underscored by Dave Roman, SVP and CMO of Lenovo, who noted that there’s no longer anywhere for brands to hide. “You have to be much more open when you can’t control the message.” Being open and transparent is a necessary condition of instilling a sense of trust and empathy with your clients, and to many public relations professionals, this is critical for marketers to internalize.

The survey cited by this panel also asked marketers what they think PR people need to learn. Not surprisingly, they have to do with analytics – a field marketers have mastered. 78% of marketers believed PR pros needed to learn how to shape their decision-making with data and analytics. 63% thought PR pros needed to learn how to quantify their results.

While marketers design their campaigns around research-based messages – determined by market data, audience attitudes, and demographics – some corporate PR departments still “wing it,” said the panel. (I am fortunate to be with an agency not among the “winging it” contingent.)

In short, all communications disciplines have a lot to learn from each other. We can learn creativity and emotional resonance from advertising. We can learn how to use metrics to not only judge a campaign, but design it, from marketing. We can learn the art of storytelling, how to create authentic connections with customers, and build a brand’s reputation from public relations.  And when all these fields sit at the same communications table, a brand will be that much stronger for it.

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Artists need media love too

February 28, 2011 Leave a comment

On February 15, I gave a seminar, “How to Get The Media’s Attention,” teaching DIY media relations for artists. The event was sponsored for an amazing local organization, Life Is Art, which advances and promotes Miami’s own artists.

Many might think artists ≠ public relations. They do it for the joy of creation and ideation, right? – hoping to sell just enough of their work to finance the next round of paint, clay, or film.

But when I asked for a show of hands from those who want to make a living off their art, every hand in the room – right back to the standing-room-only peanut gallery – shot up.

“Essentially, then,” I said. “You are an entrepreneur. You are your own small business. Why shouldn’t you use the same marketing techniques and strategies so critical to the success of any other entrepreneur?”

About fifty light bulbs clicked on over the heads of the audience members.

“The fact is, public relations ain’t brain surgery,” I told them. “Anyone with some basic training and materials (and a lot of time and energy) can do it. And I aim to have each and every one of you walk away with the education and materials you need to get the media’s attention.”

I showed them how to create a “home base” where people can find their work, their events, and their contact information. I recommended either a simple website or, even better, a free WordPress blog where they can host their videos, audio, or images. Then, I explained why having a social media presence was so important – each profile, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or Flickr – is another “lily pad” leading audiences back to their home base, and which of those social media platforms might be most effective in promoting their work.

Eventually, I told them, their lily pads will be articles in the New Times, American Artist, the New York Times Arts Beat blog, and other media hits they garner – yet more signs guiding potential buyers to the artist’s home base.

From there, we moved to tactics. I showed them formats for basic media relations documents, including calendar announcements, media alerts, and press releases. I taught them how to use those documents, when to use those documents, and who to send them to. Finally, I showed them the most important tool of all: the personal note.

As any professional PRer knows, the power of the personal note cannot be underestimated. If I’m tracking a reporter who I think might be interested in my story, I research their recent stories and read each new one they publish. One of the top ways to open a dialogue and begin the process of building a relationship is to just drop them a line with a comment or insight on one of their articles. After a few of those notes, the foundation is set, and I can ask them to consider my story. Artists are communicators as well, and arts writers connect with them in a much different way than they do with a public relations professionals. My bet is, the artists who attended my seminar would be much more likely to get some deeper coverage if they opened a dialogue with a writer whose previous work shows a potential interest in the artist’s story and work. I explained the best ways to research a writer and the best ways to communicate with them.

In the Q&As, though, things got down and dirty. The conversation turned to social media, and I sat down at my laptop behind my projector to show them, in real time, how to use some of the platforms, and examples of other artists who were using them well. We talked about how to sell a story, how to stage a publicity stunt, like a live graffiti muraling or performance art piece. I gave each attendee a handout with the templates to use, and emailed each a media list of contacts in the local media, broadcast media, and national arts and consumer media.

Now, let’s see who makes the news….

For more information, check out this write-up we got from the Miami Herald. Or, view the full program description here.

ART AS BUSINESS

Seminar in Wynwood tonight: how artists can manage their own PR

By Jared Goyette

When artists decide to make a living from their talent, to make their passion their career, they become their own small business, and suddenly have to a manage a slew of new responsibilities of that are not typically mastered in art school or in studios. One of those tasks is managing their own PR, and that entails more than just opening up a Facebook page

How artists can manage their own public relations is the subject of a seminar being held tonight at 6:30 p.m. at GAB Studio, 105 NW 23rd in Wynwood. The event is sponsored by the Life is Art foundation, and there is a charge of $10 at the door. Julia K. Wakefield, a Senior Account Executive and Director of Social Media at Schwartz Media Strategies, will present, and plans to give the artists in attendance the rundown of what they need to know about the world of media relations.

“I want them to walk away with the ability to do some very basic public relations to get the media’s attention to their work,” she said in a phone interview.

The presentation will go through how artists should set up their own platform – a homepage, a blog, social media accounts — and how to build an audience. Wakefield will also go through the basics of traditional media relations, and will distribute a press list of local, national and international art writers and journalists.

She believes that developing artists are more than capable of managing their own PR, as it’s “not rocket science,” but that getting the basics right can be important for their success, especially if they want to make art their career.

“Most artists do it for the pleasure of it, but everybody needs to make some money,” she said.

Dear Company X: I read your boilerplate six times. I still don’t know what you do.

The below boilerplate from a business which shall not be named was forwarded to me by a coworker with the simple note:

I’ll give you five bucks if you can tell me what this company does.

Fancying myself quite the wordsmith, I read the thing six times. And I still have no idea what this company’s function is or why someone would hire them to perform it.

[Redacted] is a company focused on leveraging business and commercial opportunities for Latin American global companies and business conglomerates by providing direct channels and granting unique business investment opportunities. Through the strategic alliances, [redacted] extends and optimizes business value chains integrating markets from strategic global locations.

We work together with our customers to create and implement the commercial ventures that Latin American enterprises currently require in the face of globalization. Therefore, our knowledge, experience, and network add value to our customers finding the appropriate channels to turn opportunities into tangible benefits.

There’s no wordsmithing to be done if nothing of the words mean anything. That’s what happens to buzzwords in today’s business communications landscape – eventually it’s a “scorched earth” situation where there’s nothing left of value in them. This company manages to pack in, at my count, about 14-16 buzzwords and phrases which served, as usual,  only to confuse me more.

“Leveraging opportunities?” Why not just taking opportunities?

Providing direct channels? Whaa? Business value chains? Whaa?

Integrating? Strategic alliances? Addingvaluetocustomersfindingtheappropriatechannelstoturnopportunitiesintotangiblebenefits? Kill me now.

Wait, don’t kill me before I give you an offer you can’t refuse. I’ll up my colleague’s ante and give $15 to whomever can explain in one precise sentence what this company does for its clients and why anyone should hire them. (Then I’ll take it to my colleague and let him give me $5.)

Lesson learned for all us communicators: use precise, exact language. Don’t make a reader dissect your prose six times and still not understand it. Nobody cares that much. And please, please torch those buzzwords.

Send me your answers and rake in the big bucks (hey, $15 will get you a whole cocktail in Miami!): julia@schwartz-media.com.