“Reprinted” from the Manchester Evening News, February 5 2008, written by Jennifer O’Grady.
Reputation is created by what people say about you. It’s the first rule of public relations. And one which appears to have been forgotten by Manchester’s PR folk.
For its first 100 years of life, public relations was – in essence – a simple process; some bright chap wrote a press release, they dispatched it to select journalists and – if the journalist liked what they read – the story was printed, to be devoured by the masses.
Well, everything’s changed now. Yes, traditional media still matters but the wonderful world of the Internet has created millions of new writers. And there’s a lot more of them there are journalists.
So why does the majority of Manchester’s PR world completely ignore them?
There are 63m users of Facebook and in excess of 100m blogs worldwide. All of them carrying the writers’ varying opinions on the subjects that matter to them. They blog about the things they like. They post updates on Facebook about the things they hate. And, to the people that read these words, the opinions carry significant weight.
And the PR folk of Manchester? As a rule, they’re hoping that the client won’t notice this revolution. Because they don’t understand it perhaps?
Ordinary people can spread good and bad information about brands faster than any ad campaign, press release or sponsorship. If clients and agencies don’t engage with these new “citizen journalists” – then they’ve lost control over their brand.
So what’s your social media PR like then? A blog is a good first step but the bare minimum in 2008. What about a Facebook group? A MySpace profile? A social media newsroom? Ask your current PR agency about their plans for citizen media – and, with few exceptions, watch panic set in.
If the public isn’t the target of your public relations campaign – then wave goodbye to your reputation.