History has a way of repeating itself, even in PR


Jeepers, it’s already February of the New Year and we’re still trying to shake off the December vibe and recover from the January blues. It’s almost impossible for a person to concentrate and put their thoughts on paper, who else can relate?

Like most aspiring writers who have a hectic but balanced professional life, you almost always have to remind yourself that it’s time to get back to it and not waste any more time. But I think I can finally say I’ve come to my senses and I’m writing again!

Shift influences the way we do marketing and public relations

So you’ll recall the year before I wrote an article that I was very excited about and really talked about the inevitable changes that are happening in the PR space.

Let’s face it, public relations is a dying practice and there is no turning back! really sought to highlight the fact that these changes that are happening are not preventable, and if so, need to inform and be part of how we practice public relations. If you don’t believe me, watch the latest from Penquin Marketing trends to watch in 2018. A change is underway, influencing the way we do marketing and public relations.

So I returned to the office this year, resolute and eager to take on brand challenges like never before. Turns out, our customers were already fired up too and ready to jump in with new ideas for how they thought they could change and get things done with their brands.

Of course, as a practitioner, it’s always exciting to see how brands are going to change the game and align with how we, as agency partners, are going to be able to help them get there.

Earned media

That morning I attended a full day briefing where the client was excited to share the direction they were going for 2018 and would be part of a major KPI for all stakeholders involved.

Earned media. Earned media, earned media was essentially the “new” buzzword that should guide our thinking and approach to these particular brands. Meh! That was my first reaction because I thought damn it, history has a way of repeating itself, even in PR.

The idea of earned media plays on the ability to get organic coverage based on an activation or stunt that leads to a larger conversation that will end up getting media outlets and journalists buzzing and wanting to cover that particular phenomenon.

This, for me, presented two scenarios:

  1. A challenge because I no longer see the media in our country, and in our space, getting excited about any set-up in the hope that it lands on page three. And in a political climate like South Africa’s, where there are always developments, competition for coverage becomes all the more difficult.
  2. However, it also gave us the opportunity to think outside the box and perhaps look at this category in a much more different way. By that I mean, as quoted in the Penquin report, we can’t do things the same way or envision getting coverage the same way and on the same platforms as we have in the past. For me, earned media represents this old way of thinking and perhaps needs to be redefined and reintroduced as what I call partnerships won with the media.

Partnerships won

Partnerships won I define as a collaboration between brands, media and publishers to be able to get the coverage they want while providing publications with the type of content that will allow them to sell newspapers, get listeners to listen to their radio stations ( in some cases) and ultimately get readers who are online, clicking on their platforms to follow the story.

Easier said than done yes, but this is the reality we are facing IMHO and we need to start working so we can get where we need to.

Publications have made their position clear and that is, in most cases they are not able to offer free coverage to our brands, but they are able to collaborate and work with us in deserved partnerships to get us what we need.

Why not answer the call and take us to a better place?


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