Public Relations and Crisis Communication: Getting Ready for the Storm

A relatively new practice in public relations is crisis communication. Probably the most high-profile example of this is the tragic disappearance of the young high school graduate, Natalie Holloway.

This young girl was celebrating her passage from childhood to adulthood with her classmates on the tropical island of Aruba when she disappeared. All of the public relations personnel in the entire country were not equipped to deal with the damage that could be done by a grieving mother who wanted answers. Tourism, Aruba’s number one source of income, dropped dramatically.

There are two sides to the practice of crisis communication – issues management and crisis management. One deals with a perceived crisis while the other handles the real thing.

What da’ heck is Issues Management?
In issues management, the PR consulting professional’s job is to correct an unfavorable public perception. A great example of this is Wal-Mart, a giant corporation with an amazing success story that must work daily to overcome a controversial reputation. Continue Reading

Planning a Public Relations Special Event It’s Party Time!

Every four years it’s the event at which everyone who’s anyone in the world of the elite wants to be seen.

Men in black ties and women in elegant flowing gowns drift gracefully across the dance floor to the music of a full symphony orchestra while holding the finest fluted crystal ware brimming with only the best champagne. Suddenly the music stops and everyone knows it’s time. They stand in anticipation as the orchestra begins playing “Hail to the Chief.” As hearts are pounding and a mass inhaling can be heard, out comes the newly inaugurated President of the United States followed by the new First Lady in her designer gown every woman in the country has been dying to see. This is the public relations special event of all time.

Have you ever considered that the Inaugural Ball is nothing more than a public relations extravaganza? One of the more fun, albeit stressful, aspects of public relations is planning a special event. The events come in all forms, from gala fundraiser balls to family picnics and everything in between. Event planning is one of the many specialties that fall under the umbrella of Public Relations. It can be one of the most exciting practice areas if you can handle the pressure. There are numerous occasions for which a special event might be used. Following are some examples. Continue Reading

The Public Relations Press Kit

The PR professional has many tools in his toolbox, but most would agree that one of the most valuable public relations tools is the press kit.

Somewhat elaborately designed, the press kit is a compilation of thorough background information on your client along with information and photos relating to the product or service to be publicized. When done correctly, it gives the media representatives an appealing presentation of the information they will need for the story.

Building a Dynamite Press Kit

There are six main components to an effective press kit:

1. The Cover
You’ve always heard, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but if the general population followed that rule, Fabio would never have attained the celebrity status that he enjoys. The cover of a press kit, a pocket folder that contains the slicks, brochures, and pictures to be presented, should be graphically, albeit professionally, designed to set it apart from the myriad of press kits that inundate an editor’s desk.

2. Backgrounders
Backgrounders are information sheets on the background of the company and management team, the products and/or services offered by the company, and any new products and/or services being offered. Continue Reading

A Case Study in Global Public Relations

There is a familiar story in the world of the global public relations industry that effectively illustrates the necessity of intercultural communications. There is no indication that the story is any truer than George Washington and the cherry tree, but it is widely used in marketing and public relations training.

In 1962 General Motors successfully introduced the Chevy Nova to the U.S. market. Ten years later they expanded the Nova market to the Spanish speaking countries south of the border. According to the story, GM executives were stunned when sales didn’t take off in those countries – especially since the Nova was so popular in the U.S. – until someone came to the realization that in Spanish, “nova” is translated as “no go.” Who in his right mind would buy a car that doesn’t go?

Whether or not the tale is true, it illustrates a crucial point in public relations. In our global economy, understanding the cultural differences of nations is every bit as important as understanding our own culture. Continue Reading

Your Arsenal in Public Relations Communications

Public relations is all about communications. I know, sounds like a no brainer but there are far too many ‘professionals’ out there that talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

Anyone promised to reply to you by a certain time and not followed through? How telling you they’d send the information you requested on Monday and it’s Wednesday and you still haven’t received it. Get the picture? These simple examples are at the core of what communication is all about. And public relations is no different.

Everything a PR specialist does entails communicating a message to a public, whether that public is your organization’s current market, potential market, investors, employees, or the general public as a whole. What gives variety to the job is the various tools you can use – some mundane and some more challenging.
So let’s dig in an review a few weapons in the PR consultant’s arsenal

The Press Release
One of the more prosaic tools you will find yourself using is the press release, also referred to as a news release. You will use this tool when your client is launching a new product, the CEO will be the keynote speaker at a major event, the appointment of one of your client’s principles to a high-level board or commission, or where your company stands on a controversial issue. Continue Reading

The Distant Cousins of Public Relations and Advertising

Listening to the news or to talk shows can be mind-boggling these days, not to mention terrifying. There are so many forces driving our economy that pundits are desperately seeking someone to blame it on.

Time Magazine recently came out with a story titled “25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis,” attributing the financial downturn to everyone from former presidents to predatory lenders. What I submit to you however is that a primary driver in our economy is advertising – a multi-billion dollar industry.

Years ago I thought advertising would make a great career, an opportunity to turn my creativity into an exciting profession, until someone introduced me to public relations. Then my life changed. Continue Reading