5 reasons to practice old school PR

This is a guest post from Elissa Freeman.

Call me old-fashioned, but I’m a traditionalist when it comes to practicing PR.

old school book and goodiesThere’s been much speculation over the longevity of ‘old school’ methods and how social media will eventually replace the press release, the press conference and good old ‘look’em in the eye’ relationships.

To be sure, I’ve embraced social networking, geo-locating, and instagram as much as the average up-to-date PR pro, but the more I look at the practice of public relations itself, the more I realize how much the old tried and true methods are the ones that continue to resonate and work.

Here are my five reasons why old school continues to rule:

  1. The Press Release:  Oh yes, you’ve heard the same thing I have: “the press release is dead!” “Nobody reads them anymore!” Well, I’m here to tell you the press release is alive and well and useful.  I’ve yet to be engaged in a media relations campaign when a reporter doesn’t ask for “the press release.” It’s one-stop shopping for all the information a busy reporter needs when filing a story and it becomes the foundational document for developing key messages and crisis Q’s and A’s.
  2. The Press Conference  To be sure, press conferences can be an expensive proposition. Costs for audio-visual, technical and signage requirements can give you sticker shock. But, there’s nothing like gathering media and stakeholders in one place, at one time to create buzz, branding and excitement about a newsworthy story.
  3. Key Message Development:  Some say ‘control’ is a dirty word.  I say it’s necessary to be successful when engaging in PR. I’m not talking ‘spin’ here; I’m talking about the honest communication of key messages via the broadest media possible. I always ensure my spokespeople have their three key messages – and know them by heart.  And it’s easy to measure success as the news items of your story should bear out the very same messages.
  4. Eye to Eye Relationships  Everytime I participate in an online PR chat, you see this question: “what’s the most important piece of advice you can give to a PR pro?” Easy answer: get to know your media contacts. Not through social media (although you can initiate a relationship that way) but face-to-face, eye to eye, womano a womano (you get the idea). Personal interaction creates trust. Trust creates a great working relationship.
  5. B-roll; B-roll (or background footage) helps broadcast media round out the visuals for a news item. With newsrooms busier and staff leaner, the more you can provide a journalist, the better.  Shots that are most likely to be used? Spokespeople giving ‘natural’ answers vs talking head corporate speak; visuals that represent the story (eg if it’s about pollution, smokestacks belching smoke).  Also, don’t edit the shots too closely, let them run on a little bit. Let the reporter (and their editor) decide how to edit the shot.

Elissa FreemanAs a died-in-wool Toronto Maple Leafs hockey fan, PR veteran Elissa Freeman jumped at the chance to guest blog for a guy with the last name ‘Esposito’ from Boston.  A 20+ year PR veteran, she was named one of Twitters’ Top 75 Badass Females and Toronto’s Top 150 Social Media Influencers.

Image – crunchcandy

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