Every Sunday, my husband and I watch 60 Minutes. While most of the stories are reruns this summer, 60 Minutes aired the first public interview with Michael Vick who recently left prison on dog fighting and cruelty charges. Check out the video and article here. I’m a huge football fan and was surprised that the Philidelphia Eagles took a chance by signing Vick earlier this week.
While watching the interview, I couldn’t stop thinking about the strategy that Vick and his team (lawyers, agency and brand/PR folks) are using to manage and rehabilitate his reputation.
- 60 Minutes Interview: Lends credibility that Vick truly understands the gravity of hissituation and previous decisions and his true intent/desire (?) to redeem himself.
Association with Humane Society: With the Humane Society’s willingness to believe in Vick’s resolve to atone for his mistakes, the hope is that fans will also take that chance on him as well.
Controlled Public Appearances: Since being released, Vick has been very careful about his public image and statements. To my knowledge, he’s been dressed conservatively with a serious demeanor, further emphasizing that he is not the same person he was 2 years ago.
If Vick is truly sincere, I think these efforts will eventually have their desired affect with most out there – let’s be honest, a certain segment of animal lovers will never forgive him for his actions. There will be a healthy level of skeptism that Vick hasn’t changed and is just implementing a very sophisticated PR strategy to make money.
Regardless of which camp you belong in, I do believe that he is executing the right strategy to start down the road to redemption. What do you think?
I wanted to point everyone to a new resource, B2B Marketing Zone, that launced last week. Brought together by Tom Pick of The Web Market Central and Tony Karrer of eLearning Technology, the website brings together top bloggers and topics on B2B marketing into one place.
I was honored to be asked to participate. I recommend taking a look – there are a lot of topics relevant to B2B marketers. And I hate to say this, but for PR folks out there, you can research relevant marketing-related bloggers in one place. Just one word of advice, READ the blogs before pitching!
Any other resources to consider?
My husband likes to say that everything we do for public relations is basically bull crap. I always argue with him that public relations fills an important role in how company’s present themselves to the public. It never seems to work because his point is that companies are just lying to consumers and the public to sell more stuff. When he points to how oil, car, pharmaceutical, etc. companies market themselves, it’s sometimes hard to argue. In fact, he’ll even point to an instance when a spokesperson blatantly lied to better position his or her company.
I admit, he does have a point. As public relations professionals, what is our ethical obligation to our clients, and ourselves, if we know that a client is pushing the edge of truth? At what point does “messaging” become “lying”? And do private companies “get away” with more than public ones?
And what if you see a competitor blatantly lying or contradicting previously stated comments, do you have an ethical obligation to point this out to a reporter?
From my perspective, we as an industry have a bad rap for being flacks precisely because there are some PR practitioners out there who are willing to push the edge alongside with their clients. One “small” lie can quickly avalanche into new products and features to stay top of mind with reporters, but do your customers a disservice when those features aren’t “technically” available for weeks or months.
But I also have to remind myself that sometimes the clients insist that we go to market with a message that we know in our bones is inaccurate or obfuscating the truth, then what is our ethical obligation? For me, it comes down to my personal ethics. I think we have an obligation to provide our recommendation and if the “lie” is so egregious, to excuse ourselves from that campaign or account entirely or even resign from the company.
What do you think?
My apologies – this was a guest post by Alli Gerkman when I was on vacation. I didn’t realize that I had to approve this, so here’s the missing guest post:
So, I’m sitting here in a hotel room in Sacramento, one day into a two-day conference. I’d been thinking about what to write since last week when Cece asked me to guest post, but after the day I’ve had, I’m changing direction. That’s the funny thing about blogging. You never know where it’s going to take you.
I’m in Sacramento because I organize and run legal conferences around the country–about 24 each year. Usually, things go seamlessly (or almost seamlessly–it’s hard to imagine a completely error-free event). Occasionally, things don’t. Today was one of those days.
Each mistake, on its own, is relatively innocuous. The conference room is moved and is difficult to find. But people find it and life goes on.
We notice the printer left a section out of the materials. Okay. We can get Kinkos to deliver the missing section within hours.
But then the computer dies mid-presentation, forcing a speaker to finish without PowerPoint. Now people are starting to think, “What is going on here?”
I take these mistakes pretty seriously. The speakers I line up for my conferences are leaders in their fields and the attendees have given us tuition and entrusted us with two full days of their valuable time, so I don’t like to disappoint.
That said, most mistakes are out of my personal control. I could get bogged down in explaining that: “See, after I do the final edits on the materials, it goes to our printer who prints and ships the book. That missing section was there when I reviewed it, but I don’t have another review between when the finals are printed and when they are shipped to the hotel, so there was nothing I could do other than get Kinkos to print the section and send it over.”
But does anyone want to hear that? Did you even want to read it just now? Does it help address the situation in any way? Probably not. So instead, I say, “I’m sorry.”
And I mean it.
Of course, I can’t stop there. “Sorry” doesn’t mean I’m off the hook–it means I’m working harder than ever to get things back on track. But it’s a start to building a stronger relationship with our speakers and attendees. Believe it or not, some of my best evaluations have come from conferences that couldn’t catch a break. After all, it’s easy to represent your company or your brand when everything is going right, but it’s how you react when things go wrong that can set you apart.
Tomorrow is day two and I think we’re in good shape, but wish me luck.
I had an interesting conversation with Steve Gershik who writes Innovative Marketer the other day. We discussed his recent post, “An open letter to PR agencies…” which highlighted some of his frustrations over a recent PR agency search. For me, I come from the PR agency background. I truly support PR and want to see PR agencies succeed. But unfortunately, since going in-house, I have to agree with Steve’s points.
In the end, I want a successful partnership (stress partnership here). But in order to do this, you need to be honest with me regarding your workloads and what is truly possible. This way, we can set the right expectations for success. Which leads me to
Referrals are key…
In this economy, referrals are worth their weight in gold. The expectations are higher when you’re referred by a person I trust or I’ve worked with you in the past. But don’t waste this opportunity. If you do poorly in front of my executives, it looks bad for you, me and the person who referred you. In the end, I’ll never refer you again. So bring in your A game and do 150% if you’re referred to me. But one word of caution
Respect My Process
People like Steve and I are managing entire marketing programs. For me, I cannot manage the vetting process from beginning to end so I work with my colleagues to help me in the process. Don’t try to circumvent that process by trying to reach me directly. In fact, you may lose the business as a result. And for PR agencies, would you go around a reporter to the editor becuase you thought the reporter was too slow? I guess it depends but you would think twice before doing that becuase of the remifications, right?
What do you think? Are there any other points to consider?
This morning, I was a guest on the Media Bullseye Podcast. Thanks to Jenny and Chip for having me this morning. We discussed the role of social media for finding me my job, what is true authority, and the decline of the print media industry. Listen to the podcast.
The response to my post on which PR firms hasd a social media presence was, well, more than I expected. My post received 66 comments while Jeremiah Owyang’s post had 47 comments. When reviewing the comments, you could see two audiences emerging:
- those who believe that you have to practice what you preach and
- those who believed that corporate presence wasn’t as important as much as the work that was done for clients and the individual participation within those firms
Regardless of which camp you belong to, the discussion resulted in the creationing of a wiki to allow PR firms to proactively update their profiles. To the A few firms that did proactively update their profilesm thank you. To those who haven’t yet, why not?
Overall, here is the breakdown:
- 109 firms are on the list
- 50 firms have blogs
- While 38 firms have corporate Twitter profiles, 5 firms deferred to individuals versus corporate Twitter. In total, 13 firms had individuals participating on Twitter.
- 47 firms had a Facebook presence, while 38 had LinkedIn
- 16 firms have started using Flickr, YouTube and Second Life
So, who else is missing from the list? Go to http://prfirmssocialmedia.pbwiki.com to make the udpates.
Cece Salomon-Lee is director of product marketing for Lanyon Solutions, Inc. and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.
This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.
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