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Five Things a PR Can Be 'Mad' About Today
By: Jeannine Wheeler
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They say "count your blessings." For the field of public relations, there are plenty. Here are just the top five!

1. If you’re a frustrated journalist, there’s more work out there than ever.
If you’re a talented PR writer, content marketing has created enormous new platforms for showcasing your journalistic talents.

Whether creating news releases, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question-and-answer articles, or photos, you’re communicating to and influencing your audience. And if you possess a satirical streak, there’s always The Onion, The Philosophers’ Mail, and Join the Fastlane.

Although content marketing has been around since 1891, when August Oetker sold small packages of Backin backing powder with recipes on the back, it is experiencing a big bounce today with the advent of digital and online marketing.

Defined by the Content Marketing Institute as “the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling,” this tactic ensures that more former journalists and PRs than ever will find job employment and psychic satisfaction.

2. You don’t have to waste time creating a "social media strategy."
That’s because there is no such thing. Creating a social media strategy is “kind of like having a ‘telephone strategy’ or ‘an email strategy,’” says Olivier Blanchard in his excellent book Social Media ROI. “It’s a meaningless buzzword. What you do have,” he says, “are business objectives and strategies to achieve these objectives. Start with those and incorporate social into them.

“Using social media as a vehicle to support existing business objectives makes a lot more sense,” says Blanchard. “Never, ever, ever do tactics dictate objectives.”

3. Not blaming the intern is character-building.
We’re all too familiar with the social media horror stories of brands that royally mess up — and then blame the "intern" or low-level staff person for the mess. This just doesn’t cut the mustard. Either you haven’t trained your staff correctly, shared your corporate strategy effectively, or implemented proper oversight procedures. Or perhaps YOU are the perpetrator…   

The latest debacle is American Apparel, which published on Tumblr a photo of the Challenger Space Shuttle blowing up (and prettily colorized the image, no less) to mark the occasion of Fourth of July.

The social media sphere was not amused, forcing the brand to issue this statement: “We deeply apologize…The image was re-blogged in error by one of our international social media employees who was born after the tragedy and was unaware of the event.”

It is tough, but do consider it character-building to leave the intern or ‘foreigner’ out of the scenario – even if it was them. Mess up. Fess up. It should be the rule.

4. You can’t light up anymore to stall a tough question; but you can just say "I don’t know." 
Don Draper and his merry band of Mad Men had a myriad of tricks and obfuscations to confuse the client, including the long stall of lighting a Marlboro. Today, we’ll just have to heed the advice of Bill McGowan and Alisa Bowman in their book Pitch Perfect, when they inform that the tough questions are well, tough. They advise: by all means, do not say, “That’s a great question!"

Say the authors, “This is the most transparent stall tactic out there today," warning that it will be perceived as an oft-used cliché.

Toastmasters International agrees: “If necessary, rephrase it, asking if your interpretation is correct. If you don’t know the answer, admit it, but tell the questioner you will find out the answer later and contact him or her.”

5. And finally, just about everyone is in the market for some good PR.
From the "hot convict" Jeremy Meeks, who just hired a publicist, to politicians, who have a slew of them, to brands that employ whole agencies to build, guard, and expand their reputation, PRs are highly sought-after today and employable. With PR and marketing budgets up in 2014, the world looks rosy indeed.

However, the trick to continuing success for the PR is to learn, learn, learn. Every day, if you can. The advent of digital, web marketing, native advertising, and ROI have added layers of knowledge on top of the tried-and-tested skill base of excellent writing, media relations, and client management.

Now go out there and have some fun!


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About the Author
Jeannine Wheeler is a PR Director who has worked in three countries, including Russia, the US and the UK. She is currently Sr. Vice President of Pure Energy PR, a full-service boutique communications firm with a focus on the energy, healthcare, technology, construction, real estate & land development, tourism & hospitality and food & beverage industries. Jeannine is in the firm's Austin, Texas office.
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