I wanted to share my recent interview that appeared in a new book, Perspectives on Branding, part of Cengage/Thompson Learning’s, Perspectives Series.” I participated in this interview for a few reasons. First, if you know me, I can’t say no to the opportunity to educate professionals and to discuss PR 2.0. I was also happy to participate in this interview because my business partner at PFS Marketwyse, Jason Miletsky, is the series editor.
But, there’s another outstanding reason, different than any other interview in my career. The series is based on various perspectives on a number of diverse topics (delivered in the form of questions). Perspectives on Branding gives two very different points of view for each question; one from a marketing/branding agency expert who answers a question and the other from a branding expert, on the client/customer, side answering the same question.
Here’s a taste of my interview answering the question: What’s the role of PR in establishing and promoting a brand?
PR serves many functions for brands that want to increase awareness, manage reputations and build relationships with key stakeholders. Although companies have valued PR for years, they do more so today because PR is one of the strongest tools in their interactive marketing arsenals. Communication professionals have learned that the new PR 2.0 landscape allows a brand to interact one-on-one through social media tools including RSS, podcasting, streaming video, blogging and social networking, to name a few. These 2.0 resources enable brands to talk directly with customers, prospects, media, and of course, new influencers or bloggers.
PR 2.0 is not a new principle. As a matter of fact it’s been around for over a decade. It’s only recently that a tremendous focus on enhanced Web 2.0 collaborative applications allow professionals to fully take advantage of the communications resources available in web communities. Pre-Web 2.0, brands were using PR to go through the media and other important groups as credible third party endorsers. Today, not only are professionals able to develop those relationships (for example, using 2.0 sharing tools to help journalists build their stories with social media releases – the SMR), but they are also able to interact with new influencers or bloggers in ways that were never possible and with more reach and impact.
However, bloggers, like other influencers, have expectations too. Similar to media relations and a PR person’s approach to media outreach, there are rules of engagement with new influencers. Brands can engage with bloggers to increase brand awareness and build relationships that lead to endorsements, however, you can’t just jump right into their conversations. It’s very important to listen first, to hear what your influencers are talking about and what interests them, and then provide meaningful information or communication that they can then share with their followers or members of their communities. In many cases, these very influencers are the people who buy a brand’s products/services. Because social media allows sharing in communities, brands are reaching people directly and can listen, learn, interact or engage in new ways to build awareness and brand loyalty through a great experience.
There’s more to the interview, so if you want to read the rest of my answer or to find out the other perspective from the client/customer side, then you will have to read the Perspectives on Branding book!
Using your expert branding perspective how would you answer the question, “What role does PR play in establishing and promoting a brand? And, is your perspective on the agency or the client/customer side?