Public Relations is an approach to stakeholder communications from business development to employee engagement, it is not simply the use of technology. As a public relations business, I believe my job is to help identify the business goals that can be achieved through better communication and then provide a plan to achieve them. More often than not, the tactics that I identify will use one or more technology based tools to achieve the goals in the process.
I don’t try to simply sell web sites, SEO, mobile applications or email distributions, I work to find the mechanism that will put my clients and their story in front of the right people in a way that they will be receptive to my client’s messages. Many times that requires face to face interaction, sometimes it includes social media and sometimes it even includes advertising, but the key is managing the messages in such a way that my audiences are able to absorb the information that I am trying to share. The technology is not the answer it is a tool that can be used in conjunction with a communications plan, the right mixture of tools all used at the right time.
I routinely run into people who ask if I build web sites or do SEO, to which I answer, yes, if after we put together a strategy, they need a new web site or other technology based tool, then we with budget in hand determine the best way to go. We don’t simply rebuild a web site because a new consultant comes on board, that would be a massive waste of time and energy.
Public Relations firms hire technology experts who can build web sites, design logos, layout ads or manage search engine performance.
- If a web site is poorly constructed, it leads to a bad customer experience, so we hire a designer and develop a site that is more responsive to the customer.
- If a web site does not show up in search results, we seek out an SEO/SEM expert.
- We develop mechanisms to speak with key audiences so that they can understand why to buy, invest or continue to use a product or service.
- If our email outreach is hitting a technical wall, we hire an expert to overcome the problem.
It is more important for the success of a campaign to have a strategic thinker who can determine a successful path to both communicate with and listen to the key audience with an end goal in mind than have a technician. By being thoughtful and looking at the environment in which a client exists, a strategic communicator can enhance the business relationship between the client and their target market, leading to better sales, better retention and a more profitable company.
We use tools like press releases, newsletters, emails, blogs, brochures, promotional items or social media platforms to help get the message out. Some messages are complex and need significant time and space to share, while some are short and simple and can be achieved with something as simple as a car coaster that you see every day.
Public Relations experts are often familiar with the technology, some are experts in one of the areas themselves. We excel because of our ability to understand our audiences needs and wants, how they need to have that message delivered and executing a plan that will move the needle to advance our clients goals.
While technology is a key element in many of the techniques that the public relations professional will use, they do not have to be technology experts in and of themselves. They need to be excellent writers, preferably on par with journalists, to ensure that our messaging is clear, concise and actionable.