The New PR

In case you didn’t know, PR is changing. Companies are no longer able to procure their voice through paying an agency to write distant, removed press releases and expect them to connect and engage with their customers. Why? Because the press doesn’t form opinion anymore. Because customers have taken matters into their own hands, and found a way to get their reviews and opinions from real people with real experience.

Personally, I find it insane and insulting that companies think they can connect with me through cold and calculated statements that I might happen to read. PR needs to be reborn. Press Releases are antiquated remnants of a broadcast age and printed media. We need a rebirth for the engagement age of social media and beyond.

Allow me to introduce you to the New PR: Personal Relationship.

Say it to yourself, let the saliva flow. Let every rip-off PR agent quake in their boots. Let the Removed CEO‘s blood run cold. Because it is true. Personal Relationship. The public has no interest in a lifeless press release. PR is dead. Long Live PR.

Now breath. Let newness of life fill those lungs. And let it dawn upon you: the customer wants a personal relationship. Not quite a back-slapping relationship. Maybe not a share your lip gloss relationship. But they do want a relationship, and they want it to be personal.

In Case You May Have Forgotten

Whilst enjoying the booms of profit and becoming more and more distant from your customer, you may have forgotten how to be personal and have a relationship. So I’ll help you out.

  1. First of all you have commonality. That’s what started your relationship with the customer friend in the first place. Remind yourself what you have in common, and build on that. Perhaps through your commonality, you and your friend will find more common ground, or even adapt to be more like each other. But it starts with commonality.
  2. It takes more than things to be friends, and sooner rather then later you’ll need to contribute to the relationship. One sided friendship is abuse.
  3. To earn trust, you will need to be consistent. Consistency is the foundation of trust. People who continually change can’t be trusted.
  4. At this point, if you haven’t already, you care deeply for your friend. Emotions can go up and down, but after you have contributed and been consistent, this care transcends emotional whims and gets to the deeper parts of the heart. At this point, both friends in the relationship are prepared to put up with a certain degree of crap, every now and then — why? — because you care for each other. My friend, Apple, sure has let me down enough times. But I care for them.
  5. For the relationship to truly last, as any married couple knows, you need communication. And any married couple knows that not all communication is a press release verbal. Remember, up to 93% of communication is non-verbal, according to our good friend Professor Mehrabian.

Personal Relationship. Simultaneously the simplest human instinct yet the most complex. Today I’ve discussed the change. Tomorrow, we’ll look at how we do this.

Archived Comments

  • http://twitter.com/alexthegreen Alex Green

    On the button!
    Great Post.

  • http://twitter.com/alexthegreen Alex Green

    On the button!
    Great Post.

  • bendawe

    Good summary of the consensus. However, to me the new PR is the just the old PR in very inexpensive clothes. At some point, anyone who makes it online wants a NY Times (print) review of their book (print) and a slot on Oprah (broadcast) and maybe a spot in the bookclub (print). All the heavy hitters in this space (Godin, Kawasaki etc) take old cash with one hand and bludgeon its paradigm with the other. New, old? Two halves of the same pineapple.

  • bendawe

    Good summary of the consensus. However, to me the new PR is the just the old PR in very inexpensive clothes. At some point, anyone who makes it online wants a NY Times (print) review of their book (print) and a slot on Oprah (broadcast) and maybe a spot in the bookclub (print). All the heavy hitters in this space (Godin, Kawasaki etc) take old cash with one hand and bludgeon its paradigm with the other. New, old? Two halves of the same pineapple.

  • Scott Gould

    Muchos Gracias!

  • Scott Gould

    Muchos Gracias!

  • Scott Gould

    Ben – very good point. I’m going to discuss this in the coming days, because what you point out is so true. I’d love to get your insights on it some more.

    In your opinion, then, is this:
    – hypocrisy
    – a mix of the old and the new
    – or just the way it is?

  • Scott Gould

    Ben – very good point. I’m going to discuss this in the coming days, because what you point out is so true. I’d love to get your insights on it some more.

    In your opinion, then, is this:
    – hypocrisy
    – a mix of the old and the new
    – or just the way it is?

  • Robin_Dickinson

    Hey Scott,

    Nice topic to kick off the week with. Loved the video. Man, those guys are clever.

    Commercially, do customers want personal relationships? Really?

    Sure, I want what I paid for; I want recovery service if things go wrong; I want someone who is easy to do business with etc.

    I don’t want a personal relationship with my software vendors, or local office supplies depot, or even my local grocery store. Good clean, honest, functional commercial relationship, yes.

    But do I care if they know who I am? Not really, just as long as they can do what I pay them for. Sure, it’s nice if the local coffee shop remember my name. Nice, but not mandatory.

    Far more important to me is that they are good value and clean, with a pleasant atmosphere – all that experience stuff that you know so well.

    Just wanted to throw some thoughts into the mix,

    Best, Robin

  • Robin_Dickinson

    Hey Scott,

    Nice topic to kick off the week with. Loved the video. Man, those guys are clever.

    Commercially, do customers want personal relationships? Really?

    Sure, I want what I paid for; I want recovery service if things go wrong; I want someone who is easy to do business with etc.

    I don’t want a personal relationship with my software vendors, or local office supplies depot, or even my local grocery store. Good clean, honest, functional commercial relationship, yes.

    But do I care if they know who I am? Not really, just as long as they can do what I pay them for. Sure, it’s nice if the local coffee shop remember my name. Nice, but not mandatory.

    Far more important to me is that they are good value and clean, with a pleasant atmosphere – all that experience stuff that you know so well.

    Just wanted to throw some thoughts into the mix,

    Best, Robin

  • bendawe

    Firstly, you dealt with my curve ball graciously, thank you.
    To me the new masters of online are pretty well just the latest commercial style that started shortly after Adam. The relationship between old and new is more like painting or literature to me. You get the cubists coming in and saying they are new and the modernists and the romantics and the futurists…they all espouse the same revolutionary talk. Actually, they’re doing the same thing – making art – or in our context, making money. We get these startling revelations from smart thinkers like Godin (who I like a lot) telling us that if you’re nice to people they will buy stuff. Gimme a break, we know that from our Grandma’s church cake stall. Overall, its just guys and gals trying to make a dollar by telling the world how to make a dollar. Nothing wrong here, not much new either. The very best, most articulate, hard working sales-people are still the winners for the same reasons they used to be.

  • bendawe

    Firstly, you dealt with my curve ball graciously, thank you.
    To me the new masters of online are pretty well just the latest commercial style that started shortly after Adam. The relationship between old and new is more like painting or literature to me. You get the cubists coming in and saying they are new and the modernists and the romantics and the futurists…they all espouse the same revolutionary talk. Actually, they’re doing the same thing – making art – or in our context, making money. We get these startling revelations from smart thinkers like Godin (who I like a lot) telling us that if you’re nice to people they will buy stuff. Gimme a break, we know that from our Grandma’s church cake stall. Overall, its just guys and gals trying to make a dollar by telling the world how to make a dollar. Nothing wrong here, not much new either. The very best, most articulate, hard working sales-people are still the winners for the same reasons they used to be.

  • sophynorris

    Interesting post – a lot of relevant comments – but:

    Good PR consultants (note – deliberate non-use of agents – a GOOD PR person consults, both to potential clients and to themselves) use personal relationships to their best effect. PR people connect (note my favourite word) clients to their public(s) in the best way possible. To do this, it is necessary to keep up with the widest range of communications tools, from the latest social media application all the way up/down (delete as needed) to print media.

    PR is about blending communications…. and using the right mix to get the right result. It’s about understanding who you are speaking to and what you are speaking to them about. It’s having insight into what turns them on and off and responding accordingly. It’s about press releases (gasp), but it is also about picking up the phone and speaking, meeting people, staging events (experiences), using facebook and friendfeed, blogging, getting on TV and everything else in between.

    Far from being dead, PR is one of THE critical marketing tools in the brave new world of communications. GOOD PR consultants should help people find the right, personalised, path through the increasingly complex maze of routes to an audience. What else but PR can guide people all the way through the communications line – from a 140 word tweet to a full length newspaper article (which, BTW, still resonates LOUDLY with a lot of folk – and still has the power to drive sales – call me – I have lots of proof!) and ensure consistency of message, communication and even brand value?

    Actually, I wrote about this last Jan in Express and Echo (http://www.thisisexeter.co.uk/news/Use-PR-steal...) – so I really do agree with a lot of what you are saying!

    So interesting post Scott, but you are talking about a minority of PR people (or at least I hope so!). Those of us who like what we do, and care about our clients’ (and yes some are friends too!) sucesses, are listening, reacting and may even be ahead of the game!

    Looking forward to Part II tomorrow….

  • sophynorris

    Interesting post – a lot of relevant comments – but:

    Good PR consultants (note – deliberate non-use of agents – a GOOD PR person consults, both to potential clients and to themselves) use personal relationships to their best effect. PR people connect (note my favourite word) clients to their public(s) in the best way possible. To do this, it is necessary to keep up with the widest range of communications tools, from the latest social media application all the way up/down (delete as needed) to print media.

    PR is about blending communications…. and using the right mix to get the right result. It’s about understanding who you are speaking to and what you are speaking to them about. It’s having insight into what turns them on and off and responding accordingly. It’s about press releases (gasp), but it is also about picking up the phone and speaking, meeting people, staging events (experiences), using facebook and friendfeed, blogging, getting on TV and everything else in between.

    Far from being dead, PR is one of THE critical marketing tools in the brave new world of communications. GOOD PR consultants should help people find the right, personalised, path through the increasingly complex maze of routes to an audience. What else but PR can guide people all the way through the communications line – from a 140 word tweet to a full length newspaper article (which, BTW, still resonates LOUDLY with a lot of folk – and still has the power to drive sales – call me – I have lots of proof!) and ensure consistency of message, communication and even brand value?

    Actually, I wrote about this last Jan in Express and Echo (http://www.thisisexeter.co.uk/news/Use-PR-steal...) – so I really do agree with a lot of what you are saying!

    So interesting post Scott, but you are talking about a minority of PR people (or at least I hope so!). Those of us who like what we do, and care about our clients’ (and yes some are friends too!) sucesses, are listening, reacting and may even be ahead of the game!

    Looking forward to Part II tomorrow….

  • Scott Gould

    Good analogy. No answer for you yet – I’m munching it through…

  • Scott Gould

    Good analogy. No answer for you yet – I’m munching it through…

  • Scott Gould

    “Commercially, do customers want personal relationships? Really?”

    Totally.

    “I don’t want a personal relationship with my software vendors, or local office supplies depot, or even my local grocery store”

    I’m not saying I want the software vendor to know me personally. But the City Council? The marketing agency that I spend thousands of pounds on? The utility companies increase in prices? The things that really effect me, I don’t want a press release. I want you to speak to me.

    And as for the brands I care about, the reason I care *is* because I have a personal relationship.

    There was a man who got elected to president recently, who understood that personal relationship could raise $55m through social media – directly touching the grassroots, whereas his opposition raised £11m through campaign fundraisers.

    And yes, I know I’m hyping it up above reality. But the days of static are giving way to dynamic, interaction by interaction.

    And for me, the relationship is integral to the experience. Of course it must be the right type of relationship. But then this is moving away from PR, and must be saved for another discussion!

  • Scott Gould

    “Commercially, do customers want personal relationships? Really?”

    Totally.

    “I don’t want a personal relationship with my software vendors, or local office supplies depot, or even my local grocery store”

    I’m not saying I want the software vendor to know me personally. But the City Council? The marketing agency that I spend thousands of pounds on? The utility companies increase in prices? The things that really effect me, I don’t want a press release. I want you to speak to me.

    And as for the brands I care about, the reason I care *is* because I have a personal relationship.

    There was a man who got elected to president recently, who understood that personal relationship could raise $55m through social media – directly touching the grassroots, whereas his opposition raised £11m through campaign fundraisers.

    And yes, I know I’m hyping it up above reality. But the days of static are giving way to dynamic, interaction by interaction.

    And for me, the relationship is integral to the experience. Of course it must be the right type of relationship. But then this is moving away from PR, and must be saved for another discussion!

  • Scott Gould

    Sophy thanks for the discussion, as well as revealing to me more of what good PR consultants are doing today.

    And here lies an interesting crunch, because if you say PR to me, I don’t think the things above. And I think a lot of people feel the same. And with the merge of PR / marketing / branding / social media becoming one almost-synonmous concept, the blur takes what used to be a conversation about Public Relations, aside from advertising, into the whole discussion of new media as a tool for engagement.

    I’m listening to your comments and getting them into my mind for tomorrow.

    Thanks Sophy!

  • Scott Gould

    Sophy thanks for the discussion, as well as revealing to me more of what good PR consultants are doing today.

    And here lies an interesting crunch, because if you say PR to me, I don’t think the things above. And I think a lot of people feel the same. And with the merge of PR / marketing / branding / social media becoming one almost-synonmous concept, the blur takes what used to be a conversation about Public Relations, aside from advertising, into the whole discussion of new media as a tool for engagement.

    I’m listening to your comments and getting them into my mind for tomorrow.

    Thanks Sophy!

  • sophynorris

    the crux to PR – which stands apart perhaps from other marketing disciplines – is that it is all about “content” (or “the message” in old fashioned language)… Our job is to convey the right messages, via “media” to the public. It always has been. Its just the methods, and the mediums by which we conveny, that have changed/are changing.

    But, point taken. PR has TERRIBLE PR… and the good are so easily lumped in with the bad

  • sophynorris

    the crux to PR – which stands apart perhaps from other marketing disciplines – is that it is all about “content” (or “the message” in old fashioned language)… Our job is to convey the right messages, via “media” to the public. It always has been. Its just the methods, and the mediums by which we conveny, that have changed/are changing.

    But, point taken. PR has TERRIBLE PR… and the good are so easily lumped in with the bad

  • timburley

    Hmm. The public have no interest in the cold press release? The press release has never been aimed at the public. It is aimed at journalists. The media are still here. They may be struggling with all sorts of challenges. But many are thriving (WSJ, FT, The Economist), and some will adapt to newer ways of working. But they will likely still need content. And that’s what the press release does – it offers content in a format that makes it easy for editors/bloggers/organisations to repurpose that content for their own needs. I launch a product, I have many channels open to me. Does your Social Media evangelism dictate that I must throw away all the established and accept only the new? But I still want my product launch to garner coverage in papers and news sites, so I create a press release, and hooray, it works. People start talking to me, which gives me a chance to create those relationships you talk about.

    Disclaimer – wrote this earlier and forgot about it – just noticed lots of comments appeared, so apologies if I’m repeating anyone else’s thoughts!

  • timburley

    Hmm. The public have no interest in the cold press release? The press release has never been aimed at the public. It is aimed at journalists. The media are still here. They may be struggling with all sorts of challenges. But many are thriving (WSJ, FT, The Economist), and some will adapt to newer ways of working. But they will likely still need content. And that’s what the press release does – it offers content in a format that makes it easy for editors/bloggers/organisations to repurpose that content for their own needs. I launch a product, I have many channels open to me. Does your Social Media evangelism dictate that I must throw away all the established and accept only the new? But I still want my product launch to garner coverage in papers and news sites, so I create a press release, and hooray, it works. People start talking to me, which gives me a chance to create those relationships you talk about.

    Disclaimer – wrote this earlier and forgot about it – just noticed lots of comments appeared, so apologies if I’m repeating anyone else’s thoughts!

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  • Erik

    Could you redo this video in the ghetto and factor in the evil, hateful nature of anonymous internet users so that this is a little more realistic?

    Thanks!

  • Erik

    Could you redo this video in the ghetto and factor in the evil, hateful nature of anonymous internet users so that this is a little more realistic?

    Thanks!

28th September, 2009

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