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(Read time = 2 minutes)  Core contributor and longtime PR professional, Chuck Byers, weighs-in with his pointed take on the 2.0 world, and a need to be mindful of fundamental core principles when executing on a public relations strategy.  Enjoy, and don’t hesitate to add your own comments to keep the dialogue going.

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PR - Talking Hydrant smSometimes we have to go backwards before we go forward, and that is becoming particularly true within the practice of marketing public relations.

It’s my observation that product promotion has largely replaced the beneficial activity of relationship building. This is a sad consequence, especially since social media has focused intense attention on community and trusted relationships.  Promotional bombast has replaced relationship building.  There are plenty of players involved in this sad affair.  No one is blameless.  Not the public relations agencies, not the corporate marketing and corporate public relations departments and not the reading public who accept such drivel.  

Take the humble news release as a ghastly example

Grab a random handful of technology news releases.  Where is the relationship building?  Instead of providing a bridge to fulfilling needs … a sort of how can I help you offer … there’s hyperbole of the basest sort. When defining quotations PR people worry not about what will  motivate the target audience to evaluate a product or service … another critical step in relationship building … but rather whether person quoted from “our” company is the same rank as they person quoted from “their” company.  In the name of Edward Bernays, where’s the customer motivation in that? Instead of figuring out what can be done to help the target audience solve their problem, the news release has become one more arrow to fire at the competition in the war for market share.

Today’s B2B purchasing influences are focused on two things: price and relationships.   Hard-driving price negotiation clearly shrinks margins.  Building relationships not only influences repeat purchase and develops barriers to exit but also creates added value that justifies improved margins. 

There is no risk involved here.  Substituting benefits for braggadocio never upset any customer. 

It is time for all of us to pause, revisit the most basic element of public relations … relationships …. and ask , particularly at this time when reaching out to our key constituencies is so critical in jump starting our economy, am I really building bridge to my constituencies?  Am I practicing public relations principles or press agentry?  I submit that it will be the practitioners of public relations and those companies and institutions … not-for-profits, special interests and others … who will lead us out of the recession.

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