August 5, 2010

PR: Old School, New School

Filed under: Apple,Communications,PR — Hillary Davis @ 4:59 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I happened to be in New York City on the very very hot day Apple came out with the iPad. But I didn’t need to have known that was the day of the big event, because from blocks away I could see a long line and lots of commotion in front of Apple’s Fifth Avenue store.

I also saw lots of colored umbrellas. What?

So I walked closer, took out my camera, took pictures, emailed and twittered them.

What did I observe and pass on? Apple employees all dressed in identifiable shirts hovering solicitously around the long line of happless people suffering in the heat. Apple employees were handing out umbrellas to shield them from the sun, and cracking open box after box of bottled water and handing them out not only to people in line to buy but to anyone walking by that wanted hydration.

That’s what I call Public Relations:  relations interacting with your public that earn their devotion. What don’t I call Public Relations? Press releases.

Old school PR has evolved into New School PR. You used to think that in your PR position you were responsible for lots of press releases, making lots of contacts with radio, TV, and press, making lots of calls pitching your company’s latest and greatest, “doing” trade shows, “doing” press jaunts…….well, I don’t think so.

Because of our celebrity culture, most people know about press agents and “PR”, so they cast a not so lenient eye or ear to radio and TV guests…at least not without understanding that they are there to promote something, or sell something, whether it is their latest movie or their book or their ability to do great plastic surgery. And the public is getting edgier about being “sold.” Face it, the media overdid it.

Apple understands that beautiful design is creating a “relationship with their public.” They understand that “fun” is creating a relationship with their public. They understand that sincere nurturing of their relationship with their public, and the outlying public (i.e. those of us walking by that hot day) develops business.

Communicating with the entire world, not just their different publics, is what develops and grows business in exciting and unexpected (random) ways as well as along normal paths. It has become so possible to extend an infinite reach if you just look beyond putting a press release in your local paper or book a guest spot on your local TV station.

And consider twitter. If a bank used old school PR, they would have someone tweet to their existing customer base about new products the bank was adding or alerting them to bank happenings to build community and loyalty. Ok, but sort of weak. What if that same bank evolved their PR efforts to tweet about things that anyone in the entire twitterverse would find of value, whether bank related or not. What if tweets guided followers towards a better understanding of the financial world around them, perhaps even worthy causes, as well as micro-focusing tweets to the immediate area around bank branches? Complex? No, not really. More of a case of imagination and caring.


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