New Roles for PR Professionals

Ask a PR professional to explain what he or she does for a living and you’re likely to get some very different responses. The reason is that PR professionals wear so many different hats that on any given day, they could be involved in very different activities. This recent article from PR Daily explains four new roles for PR Pros: Blogger Relations, SEO, Crisis Mgmt and Metrics. It also implies some interesting changes about where the perceived value of PR professionals exists. What do you think is the biggest value of having a PR professional on your staff?

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PR is no substitute for bad products

Two very interesting articles in today’s Wall Street Journal. The first one discusses the recent poor financial performance of McDonald’s. Interestingly, the company’s response is to encourage franchisees to provide better service with a smile. It identified the top customer complaint as “rude or unprofessional employees.” Customers apparently have found service chaotic and it described the average drive-thru order wait time of 188.83 seconds. I suppose a three minute wait time for your order must feel like forever in an idling vehicle, but that still sounds awfully fast to me. The company is even remodeling and sprucing up restaurants to appear more appealing, but one major area of emphasis seems to be missing: the food. It’s awful. Nutritionally lacking, poor tasting, lukewarm products are the problem. And, have you actually tried a milkshake? It tastes more like flavored foam than actual ice cream. The burgers are disgusting no matter how many condiments are used to either drown the ugliness or spice up the bland mystery meat. Clearly I’m no fan of McDonald’s food, but I don’t think it’s just me. What do you think is the problem at McDonalds?

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The next article does not bode well for the future of traditional computer sales. Apparently the rapid growth of iPads and tablet PCs have sharply decreased the demand for personal computers, including laptops and desktops. In separate reports from IDC and Gartner, both respected industry research firms, estimated a decline of 14 percent and 11 percent respectively in world-wide shipments. Adding to the problem is the latest operating system from Microsoft, Windows 8, that has failed to take off. In fact, it has been shunned by so many I.T. professionals as an inferior product to its predecessor, Windows 7, that many companies are choosing not to upgrade. The problem: Windows 8 has at best, missed the window of sales opportunity or is simply a bad product. It has certainly failed to deliver on the long-promised user experience with features many hoped would make the transition from desktops and tablets an easy, uncomplicated and glitch-free experience. Ask any IT professional what they think about Windows 8 and if this is the case of a bad product.

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Cruise Line Hell

Cruise lines seems to be taking a beating these days. If it’s not a runaway virus that is sickening passengers, it’s a runaway ship that’s floating without power. Carnival Cruise Lines seems to be the latest victim of a business crisis that seems to go out of control at ward speed. Enter social media and complaining customers (or in this case, actual passengers tweeting their discomfort). It seems that the CEO’s first response is to claim that it’s all under control and that they are handling it alone. What a PR disaster! How would you recommend this company deal with the ongoing crisis?

Carnival_Triumph_Half_Moon_CayRead more Carnival Cruise Disaster

 

***Update: Another article asks the question about appropriate compensation. Apparently, customers have been offered a full refund, a voucher for another cruise and $500. Is this enough? See the article here.

Credible Corporate Spokespeople

Harris Interactive recently published a survey that measured the percentage of Americans who believe the statements made by spokespeople from certain types of companies. The results are revealing about the opinions American’s have about specific business categories. Here are the results:

Accounting Firms: 67 percent believe, 33 percent don’t believe

Banks: 62 percent believe, 38 percent don’t believe

Health Insurance: 51 percent believe, 49 percent don’t believe

Mortgage: 49 percent believe, 51 percent don’t believe

Credit Card: 36 percent believe, 64 percent don’t believe.

Where does your organization stand in terms of credibility with customers?

Marketing and PR on a shoestring budget

When I started my business nearly eight years ago (March 2001), the U.S. was entering a period of economic stress, with unemployment rising and layoffs, many industry sectors were experiencing a downtown. Entering 2009, we’re in a similar position, arguably more significant, however the challenge to any business marketing and PR effort is the same: do more with less–or at least maintain in the face of economic gloom. In this blog, I’ll explore a few of these ideas in more detail so that your business can prosper & grow in spite of the lean times. For now, let me suggest a few tips:

Be resourceful- use existing resources, employees. Provide training where needed. Learn a new skill.

Research/survey your customer base – What do you really know about your best customers or the prospective customers you are trying to reach?

Targeted advertising – don’t waste your money on coupon clippers, yellow pages advertising or broad-based advertising. Use pay-per clicks, targeted e-mail distribution lists and reach out to your existing customer base.

Use Effective PR – this means using publicity techniques using time-tested PR tactics that deliver attention, buzz and more importantly customers.