With presidential and local campaigns in high gear, I got to thinking about how heavily these campaigns rely on public relations. After all, winning an election is as much about public perception as it is about policy and decision-making.

So who do you think, so far, is winning the PR battle?

Take a look at this blog post from last year and tell me if campaign ads or the constant PR churned about by campaigns, political groups, and even the media are doing more (or less) to influence your voting decisions.

Content Matters

(Originally posted on October 11, 2011)

Often when we hear the term “PR,” we mistakenly think about advertising or press releases, items that companies and individuals use to send information. And, certainly those things are important components of any good PR effort. But PR is so much more. PR is a company’s voice to the people.

Just consider the term itself. PR stands for “Public Relations,” which by definition can (and should) encompass everything about your brand that is there for the public to see—from the overall look and feel of your website and the content it contains, to how your executives carry themselves personally and professionally, to the products and services you produce and the support you offer, to even the physical signs outside your building. It all adds up. PR is all about making an impression and getting and keeping the public’s attention. And in this day and age, with all the jungle chatter out there, the competition for public awareness is fiercer than ever.

At the heart of any successful company’s growth strategy, you will find a well-thought out and executed PR campaign. And a well-thought out PR campaign, more than anything, relies on the presence of consistent, sustainable content and messages—information, entertainment, or product-related—not just the occasional press release.

  • When you pick up a newspaper or magazine (or read one online), what carries more weight with you, the articles you read, or the ads themselves?
  • When you log onto Facebook, are you skimming the ads or are you reading what your circle of friends has to say, looking for personal updates or the latest news from sites you like?
  • If someone you know and trust—either personally or professionally—were to recommend or badmouth a product, would that influence you more or less than an advertisement for the very same product?

I think you know the answer, and it’s obvious.

Content in the form of articles, blogs, tweets, video, etc. is what gets people talking. Content leads to dialogue, and dialogue leads to full-blown conversations, and that’s what creates buzz about your company and its products or services. Advertising is fleeting. Consider the Super Bowl ads, we enjoy them for their humor and wit, but within a few days of air time, do we really remember the products they advertised? Hardly. We may remember how a certain ad made us feel, but without additional content to follow-up or reinforce that feeling, the sentiment soon passes.

While advertising is critical for companies to get their message out when intended as intended, it’s really relevant content that drives one’s overall “public relations.” Advertising without supportive, relevant, reinforcing content is at best a shotgun approach, and more likely a giant waste of resources. For example, during 2010’s Gulf oil spill, British Petroleum ran a host of “feel good” ads, but did it do them any good? The “content,” in this case driven by 24×7 news coverage, was what really what formed public opinion. BP could have run ads for years and not overcome its poor public image. After all, what made a more lasting impression, any one of the BP ads or the BP Board Chairman’s comments during his ill-fated news interview?

How can you make content “king” with your PR efforts? What are you doing to utilize all the social media tools at you disposal to create and sustain word of mouth about your company?

Share what’s worked or hasn’t worked for you here.