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Don’t be a PR Naysayer to Change

July 24, 2009

LAF Note: Another 2 for 1 Blog Special – My #followfriday picks are at the bottom of the page.

“Just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean it’s not incredibly stupid.”

I don’t remember where I heard that, but it was at a conference within the last two years. Harsh? Sure. But it can also be true. Many times, we get stuck in the same routine, or always pitching the same way, or just becoming so inundated in your routine that you never try to add to it. I can count on my hands and toes how many times I’ve heard “Well, that’s the way it’s always been done.” So?

Routine should be your foundation. But you also have to be willing to try new things.

1. Branch out with your media outlets. Yes, you still need to make sure they fit your angle. Research is a great skill for any PR pro to have. Look at magazines, alternative weeklies and blogs. Try it out. A large circulation newspaper might read about your client or organization in something smaller, and keep an eye out for what you’re doing.

2. Challenge the norm. I don’t mean change the coffee from regular to decaf, because who wants to deal with cranky people? Try a new approach to a campaign. Be as innovative as your press release says your client is. Ask questions.

3. Energize. If you need new ideas for creativity, bust out your music. Do a cartwheel in your office (only if this is appropriate.) Call up an old colleague or mentor and shoot the breeze. You never know where your next idea will come from. You have to be willing to be observant and practical, but also open to change.

So what do you think? How else can you challenge the norm as a PR pro?


And… #followfriday. Usually I do one guy and one girl, but I am featuring two men this week. Why? Because I said so.

Kilt-wearing Awesome Dude of the Week: Danny Brown, @dannybrown

People tell me all the time how nice and kind I am – but DB puts me to shame. He is the most genuine, kind and all-around sweetheart guy that I know. He started the 12for12k challenge, which aims to raise $12,000 for a different charity each month – all through social media. He’s a great writer and his blog proves that – plus it doesn’t hurt that he’s smart, savvy and takes the time to talk to anyone and everyone.

Would Wear Heels if He Could Be Superman: Sonny Gill, @sonnygill

Any guy that will tell me he would wear red patent heels if he could have Superman powers gets an A in my book. His sense of humor draws you in, but he’s an extremely smart cookie as well.Β  Plus, do you love sports? I could talk for hours with this kid about any sport, stats, legends… you name it. Sonny is a must follow because he knows what he’s talking about.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. July 24, 2009 7:47 am

    Great points, Lauren. Sticking with the status quo is simply sounding the death knell on your creativity. Once you lose your creativity, you lose the power to stand out. Then you may as well give up and succumb to the rat race and just be another drone.

    And thanks for the #followfriday shout – I’m only as kind as people let me be, so if I’m kind it just means I know some incredibly kind people in return. Like you, Flerdy πŸ˜‰

    • July 24, 2009 7:49 am

      Totally agree, DB – but I wonder at times if creativity is squelched because the company has this mindset. And if so, how do you bring it up? Do you quit? Do you try to change the culture? That can be pretty intimidating. I wonder if there is a way to approach the situation without sounding as if “I know better than you do.”

      And you’re welcome. You guys were easy picks this week. πŸ™‚

  2. July 24, 2009 8:32 am

    You make a great point about change and conformity. Funny I was gonna throw up a post about non-conformity, as this video has been ringing great things in my head since yesterday:

    I mean who doesn’t love that? But it really does connect on a deeper level and the issue of going with the norm vs. stepping outside of the box and letting your passion ride it out.

    And for some reason, I knew I wouldn’t live down that comment πŸ˜‰ But I’m sticking by it! Seriously – thank you. It’s always fun talking with you and always learning business or sports wise. (Don’t worry, that Vikings t-shirt won’t be sent to your house.)

  3. July 24, 2009 8:52 am

    Great post. Another good way to get a fresh perspective – talk to a colleague who works in a different area than you (i.e. let’s say you do B2B PR for tech clients, talk to someone who focuses on consumer health products) you’d be surprised what interesting ideas it can generate.

    But it is very difficult to innovate in an organization that is resistant to change – have to work hard, push gently and celebrate baby steps

  4. July 24, 2009 8:56 am

    This is one of my top pet peeves. Just because you have (or someone else has) been doing something the same way for years, doesn’t mean it’s the right way.

    I think it’s a huge mistake to operate in a vacuum — you end up ignoring the potential to innovate. For example, what PR pro DOESN’T want to craft a pitch, or write a release that stands out to a reporter? You can’t create it if you don’t get away from your safety net for a little while.

  5. July 24, 2009 9:03 am

    Sonny – I love that video! I think it’s how we all should approach life.

    Karrie – Love the suggestion of talking to someone in a different PR sector. That’s a wonderful way to craft something unique. Great example with recognizing baby steps – that goes a long way.

    Alexis – Agreed! Nothing bothers me more than people that operate in a vacuum – there is way too much in life to experience. I like the point about crafting a pitch that stands out to the reporter – if it’s routine, where is the excitement? You aren’t believing in your job anymore.

  6. Keith Trivitt permalink
    July 24, 2009 9:28 am

    Lauren – I love your first point: Branch out with your media outlets. I have been counseling this a lot more within my own office, and with clients, as a way to revitalize some older accounts and to explore new options for ones that have reached that point where the big push is over, and now it’s time to find some new avenues of public awareness. What I keep telling those around me who will listen is that with the fragmentation of media today, and so many reporters at major publications covering so much more than they ever have before, reporters are now really looking to trade pubs and smaller pubs for more of their information. You get a really well-placed piece in a trade pub or an independent local weekly, and you have a chance at getting a great piece in a more mainstream publication. I call it the “groundswell effect” of PR, and so far, it’s working pretty well for me.

    Thanks for the insight!

    Keith (@KeithTrivitt)

  7. July 24, 2009 9:35 am

    Keith – That’s a great point. Media is changing constantly, especially with how the industry is now. We have to be able to keep up with the trends, and if you’re creative and try to branch out, chances are that that new client will respect you and know you show passion for their brand.

    Thanks for reading!

  8. July 24, 2009 9:55 am

    Regarding Keith’s point about changing media, do you ever find that ppl can be hung up on one or two media outlets that they think are the pinnacle of success (say, NYT or WSJ) but the truth is that coverage in another publication (say a trade or a hyperlocal pub) is what is really going to help them reach their goals?

  9. July 24, 2009 10:00 am

    Based on recent experience, I fear that challenging the norm will be a hurdle in my next job … but not because I don’t like to kick “status quo” to the curb (in fact, I *love* challenging “how it’s always been”). Rather, the potential hurdle exists because I came from an organization in which we were encouraged — implored, even — to innovate, take calculated risks, try new approaches, etc. but were then slapped on the wrist for “experimenting.” The mixed message can definitely make a person gunshy.

    However, I feel incredibly fortunate that I am aware of this potential hurdle, as it will make me even more conscious — and conscientious — in my efforts and will keep me attuned to what the organization REALLY wants and how best to be a trailblazer!

    Oh, and thanks for giving shout-outs to two of my favorite Tweeps, Lauren! I’ve recently had the good fortune of meeting Sonny in person, and I look forward to (hopefully) getting to do the same with Danny before too long. Hands down, they’re two people who EVERYONE should be following. And you are a third such person! πŸ™‚

  10. July 24, 2009 10:34 am

    Karrie – I do. But I also believe it is our job as PR professionals to educate on the different types of media.

    Name recognition is a big deal if you don’t understand the field of journalism – and some people are stuck on those. But if you provide them with research and results, I don’t think they can argue with that.

  11. July 24, 2009 10:35 am

    Lindsay – That’s terrible. If they encourage it, then take it away, that’s what I call PR Indian Giving. It’s also one of the worst practices of PR – practice what you don’t preach.

  12. shawnebee permalink
    July 24, 2009 10:51 am

    Honestly, I don’t see a problem with wearing red patent heels on a daily basis.

    Change is not the enemy and stepping into an uncomfortable, attractive pair of shoes might just provide the pep in your step you’re looking for.

    Jump into those tempting pumps!

    Though you might begin by walking funny, soon you will rock them like the rock star you know you are.

    Then it’s time for another pair.

  13. July 24, 2009 11:03 am

    If you don’t change, I guarantee everything else around you will. Then what do you do?

    Read another industry’s trade rag/site; try a new restaurant for lunch; walk someone’s dog if you don’t have one. My favorite one I’ve learned from my hubby – take a different way home.

    Just the simplest change can inspire better thinking.

  14. July 24, 2009 11:43 am

    Jen – I like it!

  15. July 24, 2009 12:55 pm

    Challenging the norm – i love it! The best thing to do, IMHO, is to bring in fresh perspective, as often as possible. This can be interns, coworkers from other accounts or divisions, peers from other agencies, or my personal favorite – intelligent friends from completely different industries. Some of my helpful insight and inspiration has come from Day Traders, Accountants, Paralegals, Actors, and Social Workers – Most of whom know very little about PR which is why their ideas are so fresh and different.

  16. Kyle Johnson permalink
    July 25, 2009 10:41 pm

    I swear, that video that Sonny posted… I think everyone and their mother watched this video within three days. I’m not kidding. A coworker sent it to me. I, loving it, sent it to a few other coworkers, and before the day was over my own mother sent me a link to it thinking I hadn’t seen it yet! You can definitely tell which of those people go to the club often and who stay home, too! Hahaha.

    Back to the naysayer/non-conformity. We all have to remember that PR can lead to ethical questions if you don’t tread lightly. As much as it is sometimes needed, there’s a reason why change comes slowly to our industry.

    We speak on behalf of our clients, and that raises red flags for a lot of people. Yes, it’s mostly good intentions. But there are enough people who intentionally deceive in order to get their message out there. There are set standards and widely practiced techniques because those are what is accepted and deemed appropriate.

    So be creative, yes. Just make sure it’s ethical and people still know you’re a PR person!

    LAF- are you still in PRSSA? You going to San Diego, by chance? I’m my school’s chapter prez!

  17. July 26, 2009 4:37 pm

    Hey Kyle – I graduated from college in 2007, and am currently a member of the Greater Ft. Worth chapter of PRSA. I am the Social Media SIG Co-Chair. Loved PRSSA – was president when I was in school. πŸ™‚

    Might be in SD this year for conference – not sure yet!


  1. Why Nonconformity Rocks |

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