Guide to PR in 2011
From push to pull PR

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Globalisation, digitalisation, virtualisation and mediatisation: change is upon us. How, with whom and how much we communicate has changed forever. Never before have so many communicated so much to so many, and in so many media. This has created new conditions in and around corporate communication, PR and press work. This text is a review of the six most important changes that follow, in particular, digitalisation and what these changes mean to you as a communicator and for your corporate communication in the time to come. The moral is that you must attract and earn the right to be noticed and not just snatch it. Pull is the keyword, meaning to draw the conversation and the public towards the company.
From push to pull
Marketing experts are right now talking about a paradigm shift from push to pull. The trend is that it no longer works to carpet bomb the world with corporate propaganda. Now is the time to get the clients to come to you, instead of manically seeking them out. This means that customer service is the new marketing: less focus on gaining new clients and more focus on retaining and serving the existing clients better. This, in turn, means more focus on dialogue. Companies no longer sell – they are part of a conversation between their surrounding world and their clients.
Insight: Focus on customer service and a truthful dialogue with the company’s surrounding world and clients.
From the media as an intermediary to media ownership
Historically a few select mass media and journalists have been a company’s access to society. They’ve acted as the gatekeepers of attention and social reputation, and those who played the gatekeeping part also had the power. It’s not like this anymore. With the internet the company can engage its stakeholders without passing through the media.
The company can create its own public interest through its homepage, Facebook, Twitter or web TV. This creates space and depth and a new opportunity to advance your own cause and grapple with even the most critical customers. To many companies it’s no longer about getting into the news, but creating their own newsflash. That’s a recipe Jyske Bank, Arala and Mærsk have all used with great success.
Insight: Old media is losing power. You and your company are gaining power through your own media.
From visibility to impact
“We have to be more visible in the media at any cost.” This has been the mantra in most communications departments for many years. Any communications strategist or department worth its salt have had media visibility as the primary goal. This is simply becoming more and more wrong every day.
The media explosion means that attention spans are short and visibility is being polluted by the noise from everybody else also wanting to be visible. In addition, visibility should never be an end in itself. It’s all about being visible with the key messages to the right target audience, effectively.
The important goals now are impact and influence, and that’s something you get by being perceived as a credible company interested in the needs of its stakeholders. It’s about moving away from being the object of a press story, to becoming the experts in your field. This calls for long-term planning and the ability to speak independently of the company’s narrow interests. A good example of this is how Danske Bank, with a series of creditable spokespersons, has become a media darling when it comes to the economy and the housing market.
The bank has gone from hardly-known to famous, and that creates impact and credibility.
Insight: Impact with expert status is better than visibility with 12 minutes of fame for something trivial.
From ‘please call later’ to real-time
The media world and society is becoming more social and real-time oriented. What does that mean? Most homepages today are static with pictures and text that never change. Once publicised, they wither away, untouched for years. This is not the way of the future where real-time, constant updates and live-interaction will become the norm on all media platforms.
This also goes for TV, where 24-hour news channels like Danish TV 2 News is in the vanguard on its way to the future’s real-time TV world. Clients and media therefore also demand more and more topicality and help right away. The more real-time and live you are, the more attention and influence you’ll get. To follow suit, your customer service, communications department and the whole organisation go live right away. Exactly how that’s going to happen in the right way is a colossal challenge, and just as important.
Insight: Think live and real-time. This holds the future to any form of communication.
From apologies to responsibility
Since companies began, the over-arching PR advice has been: ‘apologise’. No matter what, apologise many, many times, and do it clearly. One giant company after another has grovelled in the dust for grumpy customers and whining bloggers. It’s often been overkill, inopportune and totally inappropriate. Sometimes an apology has only made matters worse. That’s why companies are now responding with a new trend of counter-attack, using the motto “attack is the best form of defence.” That calls for respect, inside and outside the organisation, and in addition more nuanced and impartial responses. It’s all about taking responsibility as well as the beating.
Insight: Hold your horses. Never apologise just to be left alone. Believe in yourself and in your company. You’re also in the right, if you have the nerve to stand up and say so.
From shareholders to stakeholders
Since the economic crisis began, ethics and truth with a capital T are in fashion once again. Spin is dead. Manipulation and lies will come back to haunt the company when it least expects it. The little soundbites, so well-rehearsed, seem artificial and insensitive. Media training often leads to over training and to an untrustworthy and inhuman media performance.
Nobody any longer wants to listen to a company’s evasive explanations spewed out in unintelligible newspeak. The world demands the truth and nothing but the truth. This requires a new kind of authenticity and humanity in your communications with the outside world. This new approach is built on respect for the involvement of all the company’s stakeholders and not just the shareholders.
Insight: Try truth. The truth is, it works.

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