May 11, 2021

The Editor Speaks: Public relations

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Colin Wilsonweb2I have never understood why companies spend a fortune in advertising their product and virtually nothing on Public Relations (PR). It is rarely recognised like all the other disciplines.

Why not?

A case in point is today where one of our local Internet providers has been having problems over the last 24 hours and there is no one available to provide an answer or even confirm there is a problem.

In this environment of Hi-tech I would have thought PR should be centre stage.

All too often when one is dealing with the intricacies of 21st century technology there is a lot to go wrong and it does.

However, at the Consumer Electronics Show last week in Las Vegas some big real estate companies have recognised the need for good PR.

“Our smart home strategy is a result of my challenge to our PR internal department and CooperKatz to craft a three-year plan that moves us beyond traditional public relations, and into the digital age and strategic partnerships,” said Coldwell Banker Chief Marketing Officer Sean Blankenship. “There is no better discipline than this in today’s transformative and interactive marketing landscape.”

H&R Block Chief Marketing Officer Kathy Collins said advertising may still be dominant, but PR is rising. “We are now spending more on PR, especially around our cause-marketing program on improving teen financial literacy, Dollars & Sense,” she said. “We’re also doing more PR around our partnership with the NBA and social media, for example.”

Clients increasingly understand that marketing is multichannel, and that the digital and experiential spaces lend themselves to magnification by PR, said Harris Diamond, McCann Worldgroup chairman-CEO. “If you have the idea at the center, all platforms are necessary to amplify that idea above and beyond paid media,” he said. “More and more CMOs are recognizing the power and importance of PR, and I’m seeing more practitioners in the field being involved in integrated campaigns and that’s dramatically accelerated PR’s pace.”

More important, Mr. Diamond said, the “idea can come from anywhere.”

At Chobani, where PR has always been a weapon to battle bigger-spending rivals, the discipline is becoming increasingly vital, according to Peter McGuinness, CMO for the Greek yogurt brand. The growing importance of PR is not only a Chobani development, he said, but a “macro-category trend” because of highly curious consumers and the increasing need to reach them with brand information.

Edelman, the largest independent PR agency, is “getting not just a seat at the table, we’re getting half the table,” said Jackie Cooper, global chair-creative strategy at the firm.

Where PR used to be tacked onto a campaign after the creative was finished, Edelman is now working with brands and advertising agencies from the very beginning.


So the times are a changin’ and our local companies had better re-think. Bad PR makes customers mad. I know. One such customer of this Internet company called me to see if they had sent out a release on their problem.

No they haven’t.

Usually the PR comes out after the problem has been fixed and not whilst it is happening.

They like to say the problem has been fixed as swiftly as possible because they have our interests at heart. Their staff have worked beyond human limits to fix the problem and we should be eternally grateful.

Their PR firm came up with the PR.

For PR you can also substitute Press Release!

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