Archives for April, 2011
The other day I met the owner of a small technology start-up at a local fundraiser. As we were exchanging pleasantries and small talk, I told him that I worked in public relations and he asked me if I thought social media was replacing traditional media relations, and if I thought that reporters were becoming less influential. I do get asked this from time to time and my answer is always the same. I read something recently that sums up my feelings:
“The trend we need to see emerge for the industry is the understanding within the broader profession and the business community that public relations is not communication – PR is about identifying, developing and maintaining mutually-beneficial relationships between an organization and its stakeholders. A public relationship is the end goal; communication is merely the means to the end. “
(Stephanie McFarland, APR)
In essence, one form of communication should not be judged against another as my new friend suggested, but merely analyzed and considered in terms of what is most relevant for a company or organization in order to help them build their public relationships. The value of print media is no less critical today than it was ten years ago. Even though newspaper circulations across the country are declining, niche, community and trade publications that serve a unique audience are showing sustainability and growth. Besides, if you look at what people are posting on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, chances are you will see some news article links to all kinds of traditional media.
When we view things from an “either/or” perspective in the PR world, we limit our potential for success. The best recipe for achieving valuable public relationships is usually a creative mix of programs and activities that will best serve your overall marketing objectives.
Last week, a video surfaced of Congressman Patrick Duffy making some ill-advised comments about his $174,000 salary and his “struggles” to pay the bills. During the meeting, a member of the audience asked Duffy what he was paid, and whether Duffy would be willing to take a pay cut. Duffy’s response has received a fair bit of criticism online and, of course, by the opposition party:
After acknowledging his $174,000 annual salary, Duffy went on to say,
“I can guarantee you, or most of you, I guarantee that I have more debt than all of you. With 6 kids, I still pay off my student loans. I still pay my mortgage. I drive a used minivan. If you think I’m living high on the hog, I’ve got one paycheck. So I struggle to meet my bills right now. Would it be easier for me if I get more paychecks? Maybe, but at this point I’m not living high on the hog.”
According to Census data, $174,000 is three times the median salary in Polk County, Wisconsin, which the Congressman represents. You can see why this comment is causing a bit of controversy and finger-wagging.
Unfortunately, the Polk County Republican Party came to the conclusion that it would be best for the video to just disappear from the Internet (not exactly an easy task). It began by removing the video from its own blog page and YouTube channel. Then it upped the ante by serving a takedown notice to the website TalkingPointsMemo, which was also hosting the video.
Two reasons this is bad strategy:
a) It’s ineffective. A quick YouTube search now brings up multiple copies of the video. See the Streisand Effect.
b) It’s bad PR. What was a one-day story has turned into a multi-day story. What was seen by a localized group of people is now being seen by a much more widespread audience. Attempts to scrub the Internet and liberal-leaning news websites only send the message that you’ve got something to hide. This in turn generates more interest in the original story, more media scrutiny, and more viral distribution of the remarks.
The Congressman probably wishes he could take back his original comments. But the best strategy now would be to clarify his remarks to the best of his ability, forget about trying to make the video disappear, and move on.
Snow Communications, Inc. today announced the launch of its new blog, The Snow Report, along with a complete website overhaul. The new blog focuses on industry updates, best practices and strategic principles for the public relations, marketing and government relations industries. The Snow Report has multiple contributors, all senior staff at Snow Communications.
About Snow Communications
Based in Minneapolis, Snow Communications provides world-class public relations and marketing services for exceptional clients. For more information, visit Snow Communications at www.snowcommunications.com.