Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Stump the PR panel

I had the pleasure today of attending a networking/workshop hosted by the Public Relations Council of Greater Atlantic City. The gist of the program was to put 4 "experts" in front of the room to field difficult questions related to public relations. In all, I got the sense that the PR quandaries of the Council's members (Atlantic City is only a medium-sized city, and if you take away the casinos, it would be a palpably small-town market) don't stack up to those of my clients at Manning Selvage & Lee, Euro RSCG, Ogilvy, and Ruder Finn.

Nonetheless, I still got a lot out of the dialogues, and I was also able to communicate ICR's own recent internally-funded effort in "research for PR": a regional public opinion poll about the proposed New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act. ICR has put out its own press release and mini-report on the findings. We are hoping that the study gets picked up by the media and is noticed by the NJ state legislature, the anti-smoking lobby, and by restaurant owners and the casinos (who largely oppose the measure). So far, only one newspaper has carried a story featuring our study -- the Press of Atlantic City.

Anyhow, to summarize some of the interesting points I noted at the "stump the panel" session:

  • Several of the experts strongly advocate talk radio as an excellent way to get your client's message out to influential people.
  • Yet, a couple of the attendees noted that a 10-minute interview spot on talk radio will only reach a fraction of the audience that traditional print newspaper and wire services will typically afford.
  • Getting your client's message encapsulated in a press release is only the easy, partial aspect of the public relations expert's job. The real dirty work comes in following up on that release with editors, newscasters, and key influencers. This also means choosing when to "do battle" with opposing positions that may arise, and when engaging the enemy is the best option -- do it with tact, but with sufficient force.


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