Media Relations and a Growing Digital World: Tactics March Issue Recap

By Bre Stephens

Each month, TacticsPRSA’s award-winning newspaperdelivers insightful best practices on public relations measurement, media relations, social media and more. I turn to Tactics to not only keep up with what’s going on in the multi-faceted, ever-evolving world of PR, but also to learn tricks of the trade from other PR professionals.

With a focus on media relations, the March issue was full of tips for effectively engaging with the media and dispelling the pessimism brought on by “fake news.”

Here are a few of my favorite articles from the March issue that will help you sharpen your media relations skills and learn how to best utilize thriving digital platformswhile reminding you of the fundamental PR skills that lead to success:


Snapchat, Instagram and Influencers: How to Know What’s Best for Your Brand

  • In this article, Natalie Ghidotti, principal at Ghidotti Communications, explores how brands can utilize Snapchat and Instagram to elevate their presence. She also discusses how to take a social media strategy one step further by implementing influencer marketing.

Media Relations in the Age of Clickbait: How to Identify Audience-Building Insights That Help Reporters

  • Rob Pasquinucci, APR, senior PR strategist of Intrinzic, explains how PR professionals can work with journalists to create content that will get drive traffic and receive clicks.

4 Timeless PR Skills New Pros Shouldn’t Forget

  • Written by Greg Rokisky, social media and community manager at Streamline Publishing, this article takes readers back to the basics of public relationslaying out the essential skills new PR pros need to keep in mind in a digital world.

Engage Yourself: Media Relations Key to Today’s News Landscape

  • Gloria Rodriguez, founder, president and CEO of Comunicad, LLC, discusses how to best navigate the waters of media relations in an age when digital platforms and social media rule. One tip she provides for establishing a clear communications channel with the press is to create meaningful, trusting relationships with journalists.

Hitting the Reset Button: How to Make Adjustments in an Era of Cynicism

  • In this piece, consultant and author Paul J. Taylor, APR, outlines ideas for implementing critical, long-term planning to garner the public’s trust in a time of doubt.


Read the latest issue of Tactics here.


Bre is an assistant account executive at Havas PR. Follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

How to Take the Human Error Out of Social Media Advertising

[ This article originally appeared on The Way, Sprinklr’s content hub. As one of PRSA Pittsburgh’s sponsors, each month Sprinklr will be delivering you with some insights into how you can use technology to make your marketing more efficient and effective. ]

The purpose of any social advertising program is to build valuable relationships with real people. That’s why—no matter how many tools and technologies you may have to back you up—you need real, talented people behind your marketing operation.

They can use their intuition to make key decisions in real-time, find flaws within the system, and optimize strategies based on audience behaviors. They do, however, still make mistakes. That’s why it’s important to address your people problems up-front.

Use the right tactics to hire the most qualified talent, set up proper approval flows and take the human error out of social advertising.

Here’s how.

Take a New Approach to Managing Millennials

Your social advertising experts are most likely millennials. They get a lot of flack for being supposedly self-serving and unmotivated. But for many marketers, they are the key to running a successful social advertising program.

These experts are in high-demand and hard to find. When you have them on your team, you need to nurture and manage them with new processes.

Show millennials that you trust them by giving them opportunities to work autonomously. Offer clear directions, feedback, and rewards, and allow them to show you what they can do. You can also set up systems for collaboration. Team members can brainstorm innovative solutions, check each other’s work, and create a sense of community.

Always Be Educating

Advanced social advertising programs aren’t just limited to one team; they often span departments. IT, for instance, has to help set up new pixels and platforms. Customer service provides input about how to interact with certain consumers. Procurement departments have to purchase the right technology platforms for the best prices.

There are many different stakeholders, and they don’t all understand the nuances and benefits of social advertising. That’s why they need to be properly trained and informed.

Start with the C-suite. Prove the importance of this operation. Their buy-in will help encourage other departments to get on board. But you can’t stop there. The social landscape constantly evolves, and so does your team. Be sure to share your new best practices and optimized processes with the necessary parties on a regular basis.

Set Up Safeguards to Avoid Mistakes

Social advertising moves quickly. You want to reach people at the right moment with the right message. This fast-paced and tedious set-up leaves many opportunities for errors. Even the smallest typo in a tweet or bid form can cause backlash and cost thousands of dollars.

Protect your team from these mistakes by choosing a media buying platform that warns you about red flags before your publish. The right platform should also have built-in approval flows so you can ensure that all ads pass through each stakeholder’s hands.

If mistakes do slip through the cracks, don’t overreact by firing the person responsible. This will actually cost you more money in the long-run. Allow the talented team member to learn from their error. And create a positive culture that aims to reward accuracy instead of punish missteps.

Prepare for People Problems In Advance

Technology can carry out important processes, but you need talented people to create those processes. You also need them to drive real human interactions with valuable customers.

Just be sure to prepare for common human errors ahead of time. Educate your C-suite about the importance of social marketing. Set up approvals and workflows to catch mistakes before they happen. Give stakeholders the tools they need to communicate, gather feedback, and optimize.

With the right people and platforms in place, you’ll be prepared to launch your social advertising program to the next level.

Interested in learning more? Download Sprinklr’s comprehensive guide to social advertising here.

The author, Uyen Nguyen, is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Sprinklr.

Four ways PR pros bring value to your business

[ This article recently appeared on WordWrite Communications’ blog. Want to know more about WordWrite? Take a look at some of the services they offer here. ]

Recently, our WordWrite team attended the annual PRSA Renaissance Awards of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Pittsburgh chapter, which recognize the stellar work of PR agencies and professionals in our home region.

There were nearly 50 winners in nearly a dozen categories. From the audience I saw just a snippet of these campaigns, yet it struck me: PR professionals and agencies bring great value to an organization. Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a small business or nonprofit, public relations can help you achieve your business goals. Below are four ways PR professionals can bring value to your business.

1.   We’re creative

PR professionals are people who love to consume the media. We don’t focus on just one outlet or subject. We have a long list of media that we follow. Why? Because we’re constantly thinking of new ideas for our clients. PR professionals make it a daily habit to brainstorm, write, re-write and think of ways to tell stories in creative and innovative ways.

2.   We have direct connections to the media

PR professionals make value the “relations” in public relations. We work diligently to establish relationships, especially with the media. Most PR professionals develop contacts in their home city and across the country. By establishing ourselves as credible sources, journalists often turn to us for assistance with their stories. This is one way to get your business can get in front of your target audience.


 3. We use tools that make your life easier

As with many industries, the PR field has great software tools to make our jobs easier. As PR pros, we make the most of these tools. These tools can help your company target the right journalists and media outlets, keep track of your media mentions, analyze your social media efforts and even keep an eye on your competitors.

As someone who has worked inside an organization without access to these tools, they save time and eliminate headaches to produce and track results.

Bonus: by hiring a PR firm, you get an entire team of PR professionals with a variety of experience, additional relationships and the ability to collaborate. With a PR firm, your return on investment is higher because you got a team as opposed to just one PR professional. 

4. We offer an objective eye

Sometimes you need outside perspective to help you figure things out, whether it’s a strategy, dealing with a crisis or helping you prioritize your goals. Hiring a firm provides an ongoing relationship in which you feel comfortable sharing your ideas, your achievements, your fears and anything else that is on your mind. Our experience working with many organizations gives us the expertise and experience to help you think through problems and strategically plan for the future.


Robin Rectenwald is a senior account executive at WordWrite Communications.  She can be reached at

PRSA Pittsburgh Plans 2017 Public Service Project with Glimmer of Hope

At PRSA Pittsburgh, we feel it is vital to give back to the communities in which we live and work. Our public service chair, Katie Carr, has been committed over the past year to provide a way for our members to serve our local community.

After sending out a request for proposals to area nonprofits, the PRSA Pittsburgh board came to an agreement to work with Glimmer of Hope to assist in their communications efforts in 2017 as part of our public service initiative.

Glimmer of Hope, a Pittsburgh-based breast cancer foundation, was founded by Diana Napper in 1994 to honor the wishes of her best friend, Carol Jo Weiss Friedman, who lost her battle with the disease in 1990. The organization is focused on studies in premenopausal breast cancer as breast cancer in younger women tends to be more aggressive. Through fundraising events and support from the community, Glimmer of Hope continues to find better ways for women to detect breast cancer early and ultimately eradicate the disease.

To launch our partnership with Glimmer of Hope, our Chapter held a kick-off event with Diana at Revel+Roost on Wednesday, Feb. 15, to learn more about the organization and to introduce her to our membership.

While at the event, members learned more from Diana about her personal connection to the foundation, her goals for 2017 and how our Chapter can help her organization continue its commitment to the fight against breast cancer.

“I’m so excited to work with Diana and her organization,” said Carr. “We all probably have someone in our lives who is or has been affected by breast cancer, so learning about the mission of Glimmer of Hope and hearing Diana speak about it has been truly inspiring.”

Our project will focus on reaching and educating women between the ages of 28-40 about how they can detect warning signs of breast cancer early on. From February through July, our members will provide and execute a media relations plan to create awareness, as well as provide direction for Glimmer of Hope’s social media presence.

Interested in helping with this year’s service project? There’s still time to sign up! Email Carr at and let her know if you would like to assist in developing a media relations plan or contribute to Glimmer of Hope’s social media outreach.

Chapter Dues Increase

After careful consideration, PRSA Pittsburgh has made the decision to increase local chapter dues by $5, from $45 to $50 annually. This is our first local dues increase in more than 10 years and your 2017 board made the decision based on general economic inflation coupled with our mission to provide the best experience possible for our members.

The mere $5 increase per member will allow for enhanced programming activities, improved access to and quality of resources and an overall better localized experience for members.

In order to make that experience even better, we still want to hear from you! Take our member participation survey here: to help us built a better experience for you and the Pittsburgh PRSA Community.

Curious about dues? Here are a few frequently asked questions and answers that may paint a better picture. Still more questions? Email at any time to learn more.

Q.  I already pay National dues. Why must I pay for local chapter membership in addition to that cost?

A.  Your National dues allow you access to the hundreds of tools and resources available via PRSA including dozens of free webinars, RFP Exchange, Find a Firm tool, training programs, discounted access to national and international events, and much more. However, your local chapter does not receive any portion of your National dues nor is it funded by PRSA National.  By investing in a local chapter membership, you receive discounted or free access to local networking events, learning experiences and award shows not available without a local chapter membership. The separate dues allow your chapter to continue to offer these benefits to you on an annual basis.

Q.  Do I have to join a chapter?

A.  No, chapter membership is not required to be part of PRSA. However, National members who have not invested in local chapter membership will not receive discounted or free access to local events and awards.

Q. Do I have to be a PRSA National member to join a local chapter?

A. Yes, you must be a member of PRSA National to join a local chapter and receive access to local events and resources at a discounted or free rate.

Q. Do I have to be a local chapter member to attend PRSA Pittsburgh events or enter awards?

A. No, you do not have to be a member to participate in most PRSA Pittsburgh events, however you will receive significant discounts and recognition in exchange for your membership. Cost savings for major PRSA Pittsburgh events such as PD Day and Renaissance Awards is typically around $20 per ticket.

Q. Do I have to pay a reinstatement fee every year?

A. No. Although you must renew your National and local chapter dues on an annual basis, you will only be charged a reinstatement fee if you allow your membership to fully lapse prior to renewing.

Q. Are there different membership levels?

A. Yes, PRSA National offers multiple membership levels depending on your number of years in the field. To learn more, visit

Q. Do you ever offer any discounts?

A. Yes, occasionally PRSA National and your local PRSA Chapter will offer deals and discounts. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or check the blog frequently to learn when and how you can access these discounts.

Q. How do I join?

A. Visit and select your appropriate membership category to join today. 

Pittsburgh Leads the Way, Becomes First PRSA Chapter to Use New PRSA Website Service

By Steve Radick

As you’ve hopefully already noticed, PRSA Pittsburgh’s online presence ( got a long-overdue facelift this week. As announced at the PRSA International Conference in Indianapolis, we were the pilot chapter for PRSA’s new website platform – PRSA EasySites. We chose the Silver Concierge Website package and then with the help of our Webmaster JoAnn Jenny and Web Content Manager Jordan Mitrik, worked with the EasySites developers to create the new site. Our site is now being used by PRSA National as a case study for signing up other chapters, all in an effort to create a more consistent and efficient website build process for all chapters.

As PRSA Pittsburgh members, here are some of the big changes that will impact you:


The design is much more in line with best practices and now looks and operates like many of the top websites you use every day. The site uses responsive design so that it’s easily accessible and usable no matter what device you’re using.

Member Directory

You’ll no longer have to log into the PRSA Pittsburgh website to register for events or access our membership list. Instead of duplicating the membership list that National PRSA maintains, we’re just going to use their system. You can access the directory of Pittsburgh chapter members by visiting PRSA’s member directory and select the “Pittsburgh chapter.”


Our Events page uses an actual calendar format so it’s easy to tell what events are coming up now and throughout the rest of the year. We’re also moving our event registration to Eventbrite, the best-in-class event management software. Eventbrite makes the whole event registration process seamless for both you and us. We’ll now be able to issue mobile tickets to events and you’ll be able to pay via your mobile phone on-site if needed as well. Next week’s Glimmer of Hope event is our first event to use this new platform.


Our blog is now MUCH more visual than ever before. It’s also easier for anyone (guest bloggers anyone?) as it leverages WordPress’ intuitive WYSIWYG editor. We’ve also added sharing widgets to each post to make sharing these out much easier as well.


We’ve added a Resources page so that you’ll have easy access to key chapter documents and Pittsburgh PR resources.

Spend some time to take a look around and let us know what you think – there’s a handy “comment” feature right there below this post!

Steve Radick is the Vice President, Director of Public Relations at Brunner in Pittsburgh. Find out more about Steve here.

8 Ways for Companies to Improve Social Compliance

 [ This article originally appeared on The Way, Sprinklr’s content hub. As one of PRSA Pittsburgh’s sponsors, each month Sprinklr will be delivering you with some insights into how you can use technology to make your marketing more efficient and effective. ]

Social media compliance can become an afterthought for businesses of all sizes. At a time when social media crises seem to emerge every day, however, this can be a risky approach.

As we settle into 2017, here are eight ways to build a governance plan that will protect your company while helping employees and employers alike.

1. Close the Knowledge Gap

Most social media activity takes place outside the corporate network, and IT usually has little visibility into the risks. Marketing and IT need to collaborate to ensure the company remains social and secure. Start by documenting your list of branded social media accounts and the types of engagement they facilitate. Develop metrics to hold stakeholders accountable for how they handle potential risks on social, such as the average time it takes to handle a customer complaint on Twitter.

2. Develop a Response Plan

Work with your risk management or security team to develop a crisis response plan. In addition to accounting for spam and malware, it should include details on how handle a social media account takeover or crowdsourced protest attack against your accounts. The plan should incorporate staff escalation procedures and pre-determined criteria under which you would shut down an account. Check out this sample plan to help you get started.

3. Refresh Your Corporate Policy

Chances are it’s time to dust off your corporate policy and update it. Most companies still need to incorporate guidelines for newer social networks, such as Periscope and Instagram. Likewise, determine if your account profile needs an update to include disclaimer links or disclosure statements. For some ideas, take a look at Intel’s robust user policy published here.

4. Limit Social Media Sprawl

Account sprawl can run rampant and lead to fake and unmanaged accounts that damage your brand reputation and customer experience. You can only protect what you know. Use an automated solution to efficiently find, categorize, and track your company’s accounts across all social networks. Follow up with social networks to take down fraudulent accounts.

5. Adopt Two-Factor Authentication

Boost your security settings on your Twitter account. Turn on two-factor authentication that requires phone verification each time you log in. You should also update your settings to require a password each time you log in from a mobile device. Eliminating automatic authentication provides stronger protection against account hijacking.

6. Use Strong Passwords

Make sure you’re implementing a good password policy for your social accounts. Construct strong passwords that are unique for each of your social media accounts. Avoid writing them down and don’t share your passwords with others. Security guidelines recommend frequent password changes—an update every 60 days, maximum, is a good best practice to follow.

7. Limit Connected Apps

Apps connected to your social media accounts, such as Tweetdeck and Feedient, can serve as backdoors for hackers to access and take over your social platforms. Disconnect apps you are not using and be careful about linking new apps to your accounts.

8. Enable Encryption

Make sure your encryption settings are turned on when you’re using social media. Encryption is usually enabled by default, but it’s good to check your account privacy settings to ensure it hasn’t been deactivated.


The author, David Chan, is the Strategic Alliances Director of Social Media Protection at Proofpoint. 

2017 Renaissance Award Winners: The Complete List

On Jan. 26, the city’s most talented communicators gathered together at the Sheraton Hotel in Station Square to honor the best public relations campaigns, tactics and individual practitioners as part of PRSA Pittsburgh’s 2017 Renaissance Awards. Karamagi Rujumba, director of public communications and advocacy for the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, served as the master of ceremonies.

Entries were independently evaluated by a panel of judges from PRSA’s Alaska Chapter. The top scored entries received the ‘Renaissance Award’ distinction and the runner-ups received the ‘Award of Merit.’ Several categories had multiple winners depending on the numeric score of the judges.

Complete list of winners:


B2B Campaign

Renaissance Awards

  • Burson-Marsteller, Research, Relationships and Resources for Small Businesses
  • Burson-Marsteller, Introducing A Product, Changing Industry Paradigms
  • Havas PR, Transitions Optical: Adapting to Younger Eyes
  • Havas PR, Listen Hear! Live Well

Digital Campaign

 Renaissance Award

  • Top Hat IMC, OnTheRocks – Soars 300% Past Its Crowdfunding Goal

Social Media Campaign

 Renaissance Awards

  • Blender, Inc., #IWantToWork: One selfie turns into life-changing legislation
  • Gatesman, Camp Invention Blogger Program

Awards of Merit

  • Elias/Savion Public Relations, COREworkout
  • MARC USA, Firehouse Subs Dogs of Firehouse Social Campaign

Reputation Management

 Renaissance Awards

  • Burson-Marsteller, Rewriting the Narrative – Elevating Bank of America’s Leadership Through Exploration of Modern Homebuying Trends
  • Havas PR, A Recruitment Challenge: Proving that National Vision, Inc. Has What ODs Want

Awards of Merit

  • Elias/Savion Public Relations, Airmall USA: Fit2Fly Week
  • Garrison Hughes, Western Reserve Academy Campaign

Crisis Communications

 Award of Merit

  • Burson-Marsteller, Overcoming the Efficiency of Robotics

Media Relations

 Renaissance Awards

  • Elias/Savion Public Relations, Center for Organ Recovery & Education Media Relations
  • Havas PR, Solar Impulse Flies High with Covestro
  • Michael Baker International, Michael Baker International Media Relations Program
  • Burson-Marsteller, Cutting through the Clutter – Elevating Bank of America to the Industry Fintech

Awards of Merit

  • Burson-Marsteller, CITGO Petroleum Corporation Fuels Education for Students Nationwide
  • Chemistry, Carollo Engineers: ACE Trade Show
  • Pittsburgh International Airport, Pittsburgh International Airport Media Relations Campaign

Influencer Relations

 Awards of Merit

  • Burson-Marsteller, Building Allies By Changing Industry Paradigms
  • Chemistry, Bloggers Show DIY How To Create their Own Style with Painters Paint Pens by Elmers

Internal Communications

 Renaissance Award

  • FedEx Ground, Injury Reduction Communications Campaign

New Products & Services Communications

 Renaissance Awards

  • Havas PR, Listen Hear! Live Well
  • Mindful Kreative, ”Catering to Your Needs” Campaign
  • Shift Collaborative, Nation’s First Restaurant Incubator, Smallman Galley, Launches in Pittsburgh

Award of Merit

  • Garrison Hughes, Heinz History Center – WWII Campaign

Content Marketing Campaign

 Awards of Merit

  • Garrison Hughes, Magee-Womens Hospital Pittsburgh Penguins Campaign
  • Chemistry, DIYers Discover How Painters Paint Pens Transform Everyday Items


 Award of Merit

  • Elias/Savion Public Relations, Southwest PA Says NO More Father’s Day Pledge Public Signing Event

Integrated Marketing Campaign

 Renaissance Awards

  • Blender, Inc., What’s a SHIM? And how can it help feed neighbors in need?
  • Brunner, Compact Power Equipment Rental Integrated Marketing Campaign
  • Burson-Marsteller, Cutting through the Clutter – Elevating Bank of America to the Industry Fintech

Awards of Merit

  • Brunner, Collections Infinies Launch
  • Gatesman, Thorntons Real Kitch. Real Food. 


 Written Content

 Renaissance Award

  • Michael Baker International, Michael Baker International Social Media Management

Awards of Merit

  • Michael Baker International, Michael Baker International Internal Newsletter
  • Michael Baker International, Michael Baker International Signature Magazine
  • HM Insurance Group, Inside HM – Employee Communications/Medium Format Content

Multimedia Content

 Renaissance Awards

  • Brunner, Compact Power Equipment Rental How-To Videos
  • Em-media, Inc., Randy’s Story
  • MarketSpace Communications, Pittsburgh International Airport Media Relations Campaign
  • Pittsburgh International Airport, Allegheny County Airport Authority – “The Sky Beneath Our Feet” – New Terrazzo
  • MARC USA, Rite Aid Instagram Content

Awards of Merit

  • Burson-Marsteller, This is Milk
  • Chemistry, Shake, Press and Express Yourself with Painters Paint Pens
  • MarketSpace Communications, Women and Girls Foundation – Foundation Awareness Video

Promotional Content

 Renaissance Award

  • Brunner, Bob Evans Food Products SMT with Sandra Lee


 Communicator of the Year

  • Rick Steiner, First National Bank

PR Disruption Award

  • Michelle Flynn, BurghTV

PR Entrepreneur of the Year

  • Dan Ayer, Field General

PR Team of the Year

  • Gatesman PR

PRSSA Chapter of the Year

  • Waynesburg University PRSSA

PRSA Rising Star Award

  • Greta Edgar, PPG

PRSA Member of the Year

  • Robin Rectenwald, WordWrite Communications

Bob O’Gara Student Scholarship

  • Lauren Joseph, Point Park University

Hall of Fame Award

  • Lynne Glover, VisitPITTSBURGH

Best in Show

  • Pittsburgh International Airport, Allegheny County Airport Authority – “The Sky Beneath Our Feet” – New Terrazzo
  • MARC USA, Rite Aid Instagram Content

Havas PR Predicts 17 Trends That Will Shape 2017

[ This is a post from our 2017 Renaissance Awards event sponsor Havas PR. ]

The team at Havas PR has a history of observing, spotting and predicting trends. In 2014, we predicted the value of authenticity over mass production. In 2015, we focused on the rise of the “self” (self-portrait, self-parody, self-ie) and in 2016 we called out the rise of unease about our totally chaotic world. What’s going on in 2017? We’ve predicted 17 trends that will shape 2017, all centered on the theme, “Blowback.”

As the affluent, the comfortable and the successful have had a ball throwing around, and profiting from, terms like “innovation” and “sharing economy,” a massive percentage of the world’s population has felt left out and passed over. These same people are starting to suspect that all this fabulous change is coming at their expense. And they’re ready to show the people, fixtures and forces they blame what “disruption” is all about. That’s why “blowback” is the trend that pierces all others in Havas PR’s newly released forecast for next year, “Blowback to the Future: The Trends That Will Shape 2017.”

Some blowback will be personal (think: relationships, lifestyle), but a lot will be on a much bigger scale, and it may not always be pretty: People are more energized to act against what they don’t want than for what they do want, and that can be seen in our agency’s 17 global trends that cover everything from how we’ll eat, dress and decorate our homes to how we’ll feel about gender, politics and our life and times.

Here are just a few of the trends you need to know in 2017:

  • Boiling Points: The predicted blowback may not always be pretty: People are more energized to act against what they don’t want (whether it be Airbnb or Donald Trump) than for what they do want.
  • Cell Phone Health Scare: With the number of smartphone users worldwide currently over two billion and growing, there’s a massive market shaping up to investigate and treat the ailments that will certainly emerge.
  • Dressed for Zuckerberg Success: The more billionaires and tech stars wear T-shirts and jeans, the more a vest and open-collar dress shirt look like last-century throwbacks.
  • Sugar Showdown: The public’s burgeoning interest in “clean” food has left even less room in our diets for “dirty” sugar.
  • Life Hacks: For marketers, tracking life hack searches has to be one of the smartest new product hacks available.

Click here to download the full list of “The Trends That Will Shape 2017.”

Havas PR (@havasprus) is the North American earned-media and buzz agency within French holding company Havas. Havas PR lives and thrives in New York City and three promising P’s – Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Providence – proving through their successes that “Local is the new global” (our trend spotted many years ago) has truly come to life. They’re newscrafters and buzz builders who launch and nurture brands that people admire, adore and emulate.

PR: Innovation in the Age of Convergence

By Jerry Thompson, EVP, Public Relations Director at MARC USA

[ This is a post from our 2017 Renaissance Awards event sponsor, MARC USA, one of the largest independent marketing communications agencies in the country with offices in Chicago, Miami and Pittsburgh. ]

In the wake of an emotional election process and a public dialog marked by incessant scandal-mongering, the public relations profession’s leading voices are wrestling with the concept of “fake news.” However, from this counselor’s view, fake news is old news – not because we so quickly these days move on to the next thing, but because it’s always been the practitioner’s role to advise for accuracy and authenticity in the client’s information and storytelling. In a world where publishers and media channels have been exposed for placing the revenue from clicks or commercial or political gain above accuracy and truth, it’s imperative that PR people use their unique storytelling sense and professional judgment to deliver credible content on behalf of our clients. And that we encourage critical thought so that messages, stories and opinion that violate standards of transparency and truth are seen for what they are: self-interested attempts to manipulate the public.

So what IS newsworthy in the PR profession? Let’s back into it with a review of what’s NOT news:  it’s not stakeholder segmentation, or aligning with “influencers” — whether they be industry analysts, bloggers or simply prolific publishers or social media mavens. It’s not behavioral science research methods, which have been used for decades to illuminate the influences on judgment and decision choices, such as how to get people to stop smoking. Traditional media relations by definition is not new, nor is sponsoring/promoting content in social and digital channels, or using analytics to measure and refine marketplace engagement — almost as it happens. And it’s certainly not content or content marketing – PR pros have always been in the business of earning attention with information packaged for easy, impactful consumption, and stories told creatively and compellingly enough to first earn media time or space, and then the audience’s attention.  

So here’s what I think IS news: designing communication and marketing programs that converge these evolving tools. We can use decision science to understand more fully and precisely how stakeholders perceive risk around a proposition – whether it’s a new product, a pipeline project, or a company’s leadership changing its strategy to capture new opportunities. With those insights, and the knowledge gained from segmenting and analyzing target groups, we can craft and deliver information and stories that enable people to understand and assess facts for themselves. And we will improve our ability to do that by accounting for the context that is their personal experiences, opinions, emotions and preferences, all of which will influence their judgment and behavior choices.  

This can be the foundation of strategic and measurable stakeholder engagement that is the essence of PR’s value. On it, we can build distribution programs across news, entertainment and social channels that enable our clients’ stories to find audiences, and those audiences to search for and find the clients’ stories and other information with which we want to connect them.

PR has always been the discipline asserting responsibility for helping clients establish and build trusted relationships, and ultimately align – as much as possible – the interests and value exchanged between an organization and its stakeholders. Today, we have advanced digital media and other methods with the potential to make us more effective business partners than ever. This where we can make real news, and continue advancing the value PR delivers in a world where fake news is just the latest of many challenges to the trust, transparency and authenticity on which great brands are built.

Jerry’s decades of diverse career experiences enable him to provide trusted counsel across a range of industries and brands, and includes work in both corporate communications and consumer marketing. As a client counselor and strategist for leading agencies Burson-Marsteller, Ketchum and MARC USA, Jerry has helped drive measurable communications across the evolving media channel spectrum on behalf of premium brands such as The Home Depot, Mitsubishi Nuclear, Peoples Gas, Rite Aid, Chevron, Delta Air Lines, Miller Brewing, Heinz 57, StarKist and Georgia-Pacific, among others. He launched Ketchum Energy, a global practice, helped MARC USA’s establish its Mental Models research methodology, and has deep public affairs, issues management and crisis response experience. Jerry is a multiple winner of PRSA’s Silver Anvil award.