PR: Why everything’s different, yet still the same

motorola cuttingsReading about the demise of the Motorola mobile phone brand made me stop and think. Who would have thought that the name of the original inventor of the mobile phone and one-time world’s largest manufacturer of them, would be no more. Yet that’s the reality today. The very first mobile phone aimed at the consumer was launched by Motorola in 1992 in the UK – I know because my PR agency at the time was given the task of handling it. We spent most of our time trying to convince journalists that mobile phones were really very useful things.

Laughable now of course and I think how much easier it would have been if social media had been about then too. But while social media would have definitely been an advantage, I wonder how different the fundamentals of our approach would have been.

You see, while the PR landscape looks utterly different today with so many options, digital platforms, online media and all the engagement opportunities these offer, fundamentally the principles of good communications remain the same.

What is important today is the same as it was then: a story with a good news hook, interesting, credible evidence in support and a compelling image. Good contacts help and good timing will boost its chances of pickup, but the secret to effective PR is still a little strategic planning, a nose for the right story and the ability to get that story across – be it through a briefing, a stunt, blogger outreach, digital engagement or good old fashioned press release sell-in. And sometimes, straightforward is best. As part of a campaign we undertook for a client last year, we surveyed how the shape of a glass influenced what women thought about drinking beer. The results, combined with a good image and timed to coincide with another beer-related newsworthy event, helped gain the all-important coverage.

I’m not saying it’s easy, but good PR is a process that still benefits from a clear, structured approach, just as it always has.

So while not every news story can have the gift of game-changing technology or fun research to work with, everyone can have the gift of good PR. Don’t settle for anything less.