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The Game Changer World View of PR

Person:  What do you do?

Me:  I’m in the public relations business.

Person:  Oh, so you help companies save face/you work with the media/you plan events?

 

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a conversation like this. Yes, that probably means you…we’ve all been there.

 

It’s fascinating to me how large a majority of people in the business world – and even within the PR industry – think of us as tacticians. We place stories in the media for our clients.  We help people and organizations navigate through crises. We stage events. We do x for y. At their core, these are all tactics – things we do for our clients. They also are transactional – they hire us to provide a finite service, and then when it’s done it’s over. 

 

This is a dangerous box for us to be in professionally; essentially, if businesspeople see PR people as tacticians, then they do not think of us as strategists. This is severely limiting with regard to the true value we can bring to the world, because there’s a massive difference between a tactician and a strategist. So…how do we get to a bigger-picture, more value-oriented mindset?

 

First, it’s helpful to remember some basic communications theory. Essentially, every human interaction of any kind in the world is a communication event. Whether verbal or nonverbal, a sender sends a message to a receiver through a medium. There may be outside noise that distorts or interferes with the receiver’s ability to understand the message. There also is a feedback loop in which a sender can determine whether or not their message was received in the manner they intended. This is a very academic approach, but it applies to everything we do as PR people, and when we draw up a message platform or a campaign for a client it’s important that we take each of these components into account. Have we crafted the right message? Are we disseminating it at the right time, with the right medium? Is the message appropriate for the receiver or audience? Will the message be interpreted and resonate in the way we want? How can the receiver give feedback? What’s the noise that could distract someone or cause them to misinterpret our message, and how can we minimize or eliminate it?


(image credit: DePaul University)

 

Second, it’s helpful to keep in mind the textbook and industry definition of public relations: the management function by which an organization builds and maintains mutually beneficial relationships with its publics. This is broad and vague on purpose, because…public relations is broad and vague. There are 11 different elements under the umbrella of PR – external relations (including media relations, digital/social media and more), content marketing, internal communications, public affairs, events and much more. It’s up to us as counselors to help our clients determine what will help them, and how to deploy it for their optimal benefit.

 

So that’s what we do. At Game Changer, we ask our clients what their big-picture business goals are, and then we create custom programs tapping the PR elements that will best help them achieve their goals. It’s a simple concept. But it’s born from decades of experience working with all of those elements of PR, mapping them to C-level objectives and seeing those efforts deliver and accelerate real business results. 

 

Ours is a world view that has resonated in a big way with our clients, and that not many of our peers can match. It’s also an approach that will inform just about everything that will be published on this blog going forward. If you have questions, or you’d like to know more about it, please drop us a note and let us know.

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