Posts Tagged ‘DC PR firm’

DC PR Firm Dispatch: The Miners vs. BP

October 15th, 2010

Problem: Let’s say you have a media-related situation, and as a client you want a PR firm’s help. Here are the key factors:

• Natural resources disaster;

• People killed, or near imminent death;

• Worldwide media focused squarely on you;

• 24/7 images and video convey the stark reality;

• Crisis will certainly last weeks before the quickest solution becomes available;

• All your fellow citizens are united in their anger and frustration.

Of course, we’re talking about the Chilean mine rescue… or are we talking about BP? On the surface (forgive the pun), the two crisis situations actually shared many common factors. And, they both have been resolved. Of course, we know the miners thankfully had a happy ending — they were all rescued. And as we further know, BP’s oil spill disaster, though it did significant ecological damage, also thankfully came to an end.

But why is it the world celebrates the miners’ rescue, yet gave BP a global chastising? One word: transparency. Time after time after time, BP’s own words, deeds, and track record either got tangled in miscommunication or shameful double-speak. The Chilean government, on the other hand, kept everyone continuously informed with the truth and built considerable goodwill for their actions. We’d bet that even if the mine rescue hadn’t gone as smoothly as it did, there would be some forgiveness offered for the considerable effort made.

Advice from a DC PR Firm: When the crisis starts, keep your facts straight, the explanation simple, and then you can ask the public to believe.

Bravo Chile!

DC PR Firm Dispatch: The Secret to the Best Public Relations Campaigns

October 4th, 2010

Lots of do-it-yourself PR plans give basic advice as to identifying stakeholders, using social media, how to pitch reporters, measuring results, and so forth.  These are all key tactics when it comes to crafting a sensible public relations strategyPR campaigns are certainly scalable; your business goal may be to publicize your child’s lemonade stand to the neighborhood, dominate global industry rivals, or somewhere in between (a big divide, no doubt).

Still – no matter the scale or the desired results, your messaging must fundamentally make sense and be relevant to your plan.  Getting precise, resonant messaging is not as easy as some may think it is.  There’s a reason why we remember certain marketing and publicity taglines.  There’s also a reason why any given time politicians rant about particular policy issues, and tend to ignore others.  Being a DC PR firm with experience advocating for clients, we’re here to pull back the curtain.

The secret is polling … or research, surveys, or other form of group analysis that considers variations in messaging.  The best publicists, before launching a PR campaign, use one of these testing methods to preview different messages before a sample audience.  In doing so, they can determine which messages, themes, phrases, or other ideas are likely to move target audiences toward the client’s desired business goals.

Without such precise messaging, what you may assume are the best business slogan or set of talking points can be wildly off base.  And, once a PR campaign is launched, it’s hard to go back and take corrective measures if the messaging is weak.  Think of the PR campaign as building a house – your foundation, polling, must be strong if the rest of the campaign is to succeed.

So before you get started on your way to captain-of-industry status, be sure to take extra time to develop great messaging for your PR campaign.

I Work in PR, and This Is What I Do

September 2nd, 2010

Once upon a time, a recruitment poster for an aid agency showed an American staffer and his Cambodian counterpart on motorcycles in the native jungles.  The basic message was, “this is my job, it could be yours too.”  Now – to someone who loved Motorcycle Diaries and dreamed of motorcycling through Cambodia (or any developing country), this was a very effective ad.  In fact, it helped spur The Blog Aesthetic’s love for international development and the NGO world.

As noted in a recent PRWeek bulletin, Praecere is the agency-of-record for the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP).  This amazing group parachutes the world’s best photographers into endangered and stunning sites to document what could be lost if a major development project in that area goes forward.  Ideally, these images spur public outrage and action against the project.  Praecere is guiding the iLCP’s current Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition (RAVE) in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia.  At stake?  The rights of the First Nations people, one of the most pristine marine environments in the world, and the home of the mystical white “spirit bears” revered by the First Nations.  We are helping implement a social media strategy with dozens of partners, securing major Canadian and US television coverage, and planning a large press conference in Vancouver to release the images to the world.

As we sit here in Prince Rupert, Canada awaiting a floatplane to the Great Bear Rainforest, we can’t help but think we’re now the guy on the recruitment poster: “I work in PR, and this is what I get to do.”

PR often gets knocked for being too consumed with products, widgets, and sloganeering.  But the other side of the coin is that PR can be used to protect the environment, help defend the rights of indigenous cultures, and brand and grow an organization in the process.  This is the side of PR often not covered or even discussed.  If successful, we will stop a major pipeline project by a company with a horrendous track record of safety (or lack thereof) from destroying a place people rely on for their livelihoods.

Praecere took this account to publicize one of the most unique conservation groups operating today, and show everyone that PR is not an ugly term only used for shilling corporate goodies.  To follow this RAVE expedition and to stay abreast of the characters and storylines, please visit iLCP’s blog “Expose”, the iLCP’s Facebook page, and keep visiting The Blog Aesthetic.

DC PR Firm Dispatch: The Shameless Media Aesthetic of Karen Hyer

July 29th, 2010

In public relations, inflammatory rhetoric conveys a very displeasing aesthetic.  Even worse, when someone’s statements have no motivation other than crass political maneuvering, their integrity goes out the door.

Case in point: Democrat Karen Hyer, who’s challenging Republican Congressman Jason Chaffretz, has attacked her opponent’s recent House vote against further funding for the war in Afghanistan.  But, instead of criticizing a flip-flop position or claiming that Chaffretz’s vote is inconsistent with his articulated political principles, Hyer pathetically resorts to the tired and stupid Republican talking point so loosely thrown around the past decade – that if a politician votes against funding a wartime effort, that somehow means the politician hates the military and wants American soldiers to be killed.

Karen Hyer’s specific criticism of Chaffretz was that his vote was “irresponsible” and that Chaffretz does not “support our men and women in uniform who are currently in harm’s way.”

Hyer has it backwards.  What is “irresponsible” is attacking your opponent on two false premises by (1) pandering to the basest instinct of American voters, and (2) misrepresenting his position, as he opposes funding a war that he believes is not achieving its goals.  How Hyer twists that into not “supporting” the troops is anyone’s guess, and one that prospective voters in her district should consider when casting their ballots.

Now, here’s a DC PR firm secret about Washington politics: Congressional candidates rarely speak off the cuff.  They tend to get fed their marching orders and talking points by the top levels of their respective political party.  Hyer’s position is, sadly, entirely consistent with the Democratic National Committee’s own batch of hot air that sounds eerily like Republican bluster from years earlier.

Politics is of course a contact sport, and those involved should push their arguments and positions aggressively – such is the nature of effective and game-changing debate, the very fuel of democracy.  But, lying to the press, and the voting public, is as silly as it gets.  Such shameless rhetoric almost always incubates in the press shop or operation, so it’s likely that the blame can be fairly directed at unethical publicists.

The PR industry should always work hard to distance itself, and our practice, from taking cheap shots, and show clients examples like Karen Hyer to understand why hitting below the belt is the wrong thing to do.

DC PR Firm Dispatch: Why Public Affairs Predictions Must Embrace the Present

December 28th, 2009

A great source of discontent with public figures perhaps derives from grand predictions gone awry.  The online magazine Foreign Policy catalogues the biggest errors in policy fortune-telling from 2009.

From an experienced DC PR firm perspective, it’s easy to understand why such errant predictions frustrate us.  And, it’s probably safe to say that public figures are primarily driven by politics, so there isn’t much point in dissecting the motivation behind grandiose statements made in an issues debate.  The better question may be, what can a public relations perspective offer in the way of meaningful analysis?

The answer touches on the dilemma that a public relations specialist wrestles with every day – what is the best principle to apply in effective client representation?  Many DC PR firm clients want to be part of the issues debate of the day, so inherently, the advice they get places great weight on future events.  Now, it’s one thing to analyze the ongoing pattern of current issues debates, but another thing to make grand, overarching predictions on how certain events will unfold without examining present opportunities.  These oversights tend to jeopardize key publicity tactics available at the moment.

So, instead of simply passing myopic judgment on past events, how about focusing instead on the present, along with the immediate opportunities the moment provides for the future?  Think about it – in the present, we know what’s happening, who the stakeholders are, what’s being said about the issues, the public intentions of key decision-makers, and so forth.  That’s a wealth of information that can guide the advice a PR firm gives a client.

With a thorough analysis of what’s occurring currently, we can better serve a client with PR solutions that leverage every available opportunity, instead of dreaming of what may happen in a few days, weeks or months ahead without recommending steps to take.  It may be a radical way of thinking in the PR industry, but one that countless great thinkers and philosophers embrace, so it’s worth a look by PR professionals as well.  If we’re to put an end to misguided public affairs predictions, this isn’t a bad alternative to consider.

Dispatch from a DC PR Firm: What’s Ahead for Public Affairs in 2010

December 16th, 2009

As the year winds down (can’t believe it went to fast!), media professionals are gearing up for a very busy agenda in 2010.  For DC PR firms, especially those that focus on issues and advocacy, that means keeping an eye out for the biggest public affairs debate so they can ante up and be in the action.  When issues debates radiate outside of DC, the public and media want to know – who will be the heroes, villains, rainmakers, underdogs, success stories?

As the nascent narratives develop in the policy world, here’s a sneak peak from the DC PR firm perspective:

Health care.  The jury’s still out on whether the Senate will pass a bill before adjourning, but regardless, the debate will play out aggressively in 2010.  Everyone’s got a stake in this debate – the public, politicians, states, insurers, businesses, interest groups, lobbyists and so many more.  Look for social media to do its best in dominating media platforms on all relevant issues.

Net Neutrality.  The debate on who controls the Internet’s pipelines will develop at a brisk pace, given that billions and big egos are at the table.  With the Democrats in control of Congress, strong scrutiny will be brought to net neutrality issues.

Global finance.  With the U.S. moving aggressively to investigate and scrutinize global financial dealings, the big finance houses certainly will be speaking loudly on this issue.  One key to success is who can best demystify these very complex and difficult matters, as the simplest narrative on finance is the one most people will understand and support.

Environment.  The on-going and violent protests in Copenhagen the past few days have allowed dissenting voices to grab the spotlight from ministerial deal-making, thus turning the entire effort into a PR debacle.  Look for energized activist movements on both sides to re-double their efforts next year either to gain more ground, or reclaim what leverage they may have lost.

No doubt, every DC PR firm in policy circles will be in on the media and publicity action in these public affairs debates.  With so many voices speaking at once, keep your eyes and ears open for who speaks the loudest – chances are, they have the best DC PR firms working for them.