Reading the Line: Content vs. Credibility
I often meet with prospective clients in search of a “PR firm” for their business, campaign or issue. “PR” means different things to different organizations and has been generally interpreted to mean:
- Guiding a client in its interactions with the news media in a proactive or defensive posture;
- Event-based support like ground breakings, conferences or media events designed to elevate a service, platform or accomplishment; or
- Generally increasing exposure in order to increase business prospects
The truth of the matter is that most clients have not thought through how public relations will move the dial on their behalf.
In today’s environment, where interacting with the public can be a risky and expensive proposition, it has never been more critical to carefully chart a path to success. For instance, while oftentimes the media is involved, in some circumstances, interacting with the media is the least desirable strategy. Media has historically played the role of developing content for educating and informing the public, but today, content generation is the easy part. Credibility is the challenge.
At its core, public relations is about connecting with the groups and individuals whose decisions can affect an organization or an issue. Who are the major stakeholders whose opinions actually matter? What is their perspective, concern, or interest in the issue? How have they been informed in the past and how can the client improve that process? What sources do they trust and what messages will they find the most relevant and credible? Is it the local newspaper, broadcast station, or perhaps a local business leader or policymaker? Understanding the strength of these connections are critical to success and requires a far more sophisticated analysis than just hiring a “PR firm.”
We live in a world of information –– some true, some masquerading as truth. It is easily accessed and often intentionally distorted. That makes it a challenge to tell an accurate story that actually reaches the intended audience. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the wild west of unchecked online “news sources” present challenging barriers to the truth, especially when the story is complex. There is little room for nuance.
We help clients tell their stories in a way that cuts through the clutter and reaches the real decision makers.
The difference between us and a “PR firm” is Monumental.