Family Life

Now Hear This, Mom! Public Relations Makes Perfectly Good Sense.

Posted on March 13, 2014. Filed under: Family Life, Public Relations, Public Relations Commentary | Tags: , , , |

Public relations was hard enough to define in lay terms  in the analog age. Imagine trying to describe to your mother what you did in PR back in the day when the word processor was a marvel of technical wizardry, laptop computers weighed umpteen pounds, and daily newspapers still had multi-page classified sections thick with want ads.

“I help companies get their messages out through the news media, Mom,” you might have said. That in lieu of going into a lengthy explanation about the need to identify key publics, slice and dice the demographic aspects of your target markets, develop a media platform by which to tell your story, align your efforts with overall corporate marketing and business strategies, and blah blah blah. Mom, meanwhile, has turned the page and is wondering whether she remembered to get  stamps yesterday so she can some household bills into the mail today.

Visuals Overcome Cultural Barriers

So you might try using pictures. We had a client, back in the good old days of actual cut-and-paste layout boards, that produced a children’s television show for PBS stations. The goal of the public relations campaign was to create national awareness for the new season of this show — a show which, by the way, earned several Daytime Emmys and was sponsored by one of the largest breakfast cereal companies in the world, one that features a noble beast of the jungle as a signature character. Anyway, we were charged with not only doing media relations but also station relations. So we storyboarded part of our presentation, including various poster concepts, newsletter concepts and some graphic slicks that could be dropped in as-is into print publications. Those visual materials were easily grasped by Mom, as they were by the client for that matter. Now Mom had some idea of what I did – promotional posters and colorful newsletters, of all things.

Fast forward to today. Now Mom, who’s relatively computer-averse, has an even harder time understanding what I — or most any PR-oriented individual — does. Besides getting people news and blogosphere coverage for all the many newsworthy and compelling stories that they have to tell, I have to talk about using social media channels such as Twitter and LinkedIn, blogs, brand journalism and Native advertising, and YouTube to “engage with key client audiences.”

Mom, meanwhile, is still sticking stamps on envelopes and using the U.S. Postal Service to pay her bills.

Back To The Marketplace

So I just say that I do a lot of copywriting for companies, come up with ideas to help them stand out in the marketplace and get their stories told in a lot of different venues — including the good old, but now quasi-analog media such as newspapers, television and radio — and give important people (such as customers and prospective customers) reasons to know about them, and like them well enough to do business with them.

If Mom wants to see pictures, all I have to do is get on the Internet and call up examples of my work.

Mom, of course, is computer-averse as mentioned earlier. She doesn’t like looking at stuff on computer screens. So there’s not much chance she’ll look at what I have to show online.

Mom, most likely, is dealing herself a hand of solitaire — one of her favorite pasttimes these days — while I finish up my spiel about what I do in my PR life. Being an analogist, Mom is playing with an actual deck of beat-up cards, Bicycle brand. I could tell her that I like to play solitaire to relax too — but now I play online. I wouldn’t even know how to deal a hand of solitaire these days. I’ve forgotten how. The computer does it for me. God help me if I ever get stranded on a deserted island with just a deck of cards for entertainment and no computer. I’d have to reinvent the whole damn world of solitaire all over again. Holy Hoyle!

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