“Can we PR this?”
Now, how many times would a PR person have received such a request? I never fail to cringe whenever I hear this.
What does it mean really when someone asks you to “PR” something? Does it mean to publicise it, write a press release about it or just have your work seen by the world? When people don’t know just what to get out of a piece of information, “PR-ing” it, seems to be the best ROI. You can show it to your boss, or your client, or your internal teams and they will all be happy their work was featured somewhere.
To all PR folks, PR-ing something is a cringe-worthy word and, even more, a dreaded task. If something is worthy of being out there, it gets out there regardless of being “PR-ed”.
Now there are some things that need a strategy, a plan, a team telling the same story – the product team, the marketing team, the sales team, the advertising team, even the CEO.
I am not talking about such big launches. These are often global or regional in nature.
But small, intangible efforts that don’t add up to the bigger picture, that don’t show a corporate as a differentiator from its competitors, that don’t tell a good story, often come to a communications lead’s desk to be “PR-ed”.
And the comms lead takes one for the team, writes a press release to ensure their team feels good about their work and “PRs” it.
From university open days to intern grad days; from climbing Kota Kinabalu to running a marathon for fun; from birthday celebrations to employee or client outings; website or app updates; trade-fair participation; wearing pink or green or white or whatever the colour day; selfie or wefie competitions – the examples are aplenty.
Such “PR-ed” activities unfortunately diminish the value of communications to a company, to its peers and the industry at large.
Communicating at the right time, in the right way, to the right audience is a combination of art and science.
It takes years of practice and experience. It takes a thorough understanding of the market, its competitors or the target audiences and the mode to reach these audiences via the various forms of media. Most importantly, it is aimed at building a good story about a company.
So, if there is no story or a strategy, don’t PR it. Just please don’t.
The writer is a senior PR professional who is working at a major MNC.