Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Problem Defined

I read with interest a recent post by Josh Hallett that related to my comments in Public Relations = Media Relations. Josh retells the tale of a Florida PR practitioner who was "directed by the 'corporate office' (read: not local) to increase their media outreach initiatives." I'm hoping that this directive came with an underlying purpose...a message and clear goals. It very well may have since I wasn't there and didn't get to talk to this fellow professional. However, too often a directive such as this is passed down from management without specific goals in mind. Basically, just go raise awareness, get my face in the paper.

It is time that the PR departments of the world stop hiding behind excuses that there isn't a way to track PR results. The fundamental problem is that we don't know what to track because we don't know what we're trying to accomplish.

I recently met with a local company that is looking at generating local buzz. However, these were smart business men and women, and they had a goal in mind. A competitor was taking too much of a lead in a business area they wanted to capture. The buzz was specifically related to helping them break into that market. Now, that's smart public relations. Is it hard to measure? Sure. But, that's true for many aspects of the business world.

Let me reiterate, I don't know any details of the situation mentioned by Josh. I'm sure there is more to this specific story than I know. It just made me think about a thousand other examples I've heard where PR folks are trying to get their boss's name in the paper, but have no clear understanding of the overarching business objectives driving that activity.

Let's get that seat in the board room, folks.

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