Is There a (PR) Doctor in the House?

People, please. If this month has shown us anything, it’s the importance of regular PR check-ups.

Perfectly robust brands were savaged on Twitter and Tumblr. Seemingly innocent hashtags somehow backfired. On Facebook, rumors popped up like weeds, and villagers rioted, and company spokespeople ran amuck.

From the deck on Cherry Street, I watched these faraway developments and wondered: Don’t any of these folks know a public relations specialist?

Because that is exactly who they needed—and need still. Someone who can help them use Twitter for better crisis management. Or devise a novel plan to innoculate them against Twitter’s inherently viral utility.  Or make sure their Facebook pages invite engagement and not parody.

PR pros do all this for their clients. And, because social media becomes more powerful and, correspondingly, more risk-filled with each dawning day, the services of a public relations specialist grow ever more vital to the health of your brand—and your bottom line. Isn’t it time for your next checkup?


Future Features

I can’t stop thinking about the panel discussion we had last month at the PRSA-Madison luncheon. Three impressive career-communicators—people who work here in town but are in demand as speakers all across the country—sat at a table in the front of the room and made their predictions about public relations in the coming year.

Which social media will dominate? What kinds of metrics can we look forward to adapting? How much will content matter across platforms?

I can’t recreate all their great insights here. But our panelists did inspire me to continue to scout out the road PR might take in the coming months.

Here’s what some experts say lies ahead:

•  From the bloggers at PR Newswire, PR with marketing outcomes.

•  From PRSA National, 12 very different trends from 12 bloggers.

•  Mashable’s take on what’s next in digital PR.

Finally, a caution from Harvey Briggs—who, incidentally, served on the very panel mentioned above. In a great blog, Harvey reminds us all to keep watch along the way for that which is actually innovative. Not just new. Not just different. Just really, truly innovative. Our past futures have always been shaped by innovation, he says, and innovation is what will give us a preview of what’s next. Thanks for the reminder, Harvey!

Black & Blue & Pink All Over

College courses will teach it. Post-grad students will write dissertations about it. Still, I’ll never understand why the Susan G. Komen Foundation blew up its own brand a few days ago. And make no mistake, that is exactly what they did.

Yes, I understand politics. This blog is mostly about public relations, but my particular political belief system goes on display from time to time; it’s simply part of who I am.

This was never the case with the Komen message. The words “cancer” and “cure” once belonged to that message and were so tightly interwoven in it that there was no room for other words. Such was the strength of that brand. Then—and have I mentioned that this is inexplicable to me?—the decision was made to swap in “abortion” for “cancer” and “politics” for “cure.”

So now we’re all learning yet another lesson in the power of Twitter. And the importance of brand consistency. And the necessity of a strategic and integrated crisis communications plan. But if we want to avoid becoming the next Komen Foundation, we should probably make a point of also relearning some Shakespeare: “To thine own self be true.”

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