Strategic Public Relations
Focused on public relations strategy within the integrated marketing communications mix.

Saturday, December 14, 2002  

The Facts Behind the Figures

As the end of 2002 hurtles towards us, a big topic around water coolers nationwide is: "Will we get a bonus this year? And, if so, how much will it be?"

USA Today cites research that points to yes. A lesser-known publication cites conflicting research pointing to a lean Christmas.

Media outlets provide "conflicting" reports all the time. Besides, upon closer examination of these two studies, the samples and surveys used to generate the results will surely show which one is more applicable to the nation. The bigger issue here is research and public relations.

Research is used to fuel publicity efforts more than it is used to drive marketing strategies. This is unfortunate, but the above cases in point prove out that—no matter what the results—research sells a story.

Research is typically used to predict trends, positioning your client as a thought leader, or to prove out issues or needs that a product or service addresses. Conducted by third party researchers or analyst firms, the results are golden news opportunities.

And while it makes sense to leverage this information into media placements, don't forget the opportunity it provides to drive strategy.

The other issue relates to secondary research conducted over the Internet. Far too often, when looking for data to support our own assertions, a source for attribution is all we look for. What about looking more closely at sample size, the type of survey used, when the research was conducted and other details? This homework not only helps you further establish research credibility, it also helps determine to what extent it supports your own assertions.

If the research you find reads too good to be true, it might be. Take a few more minutes to learn more about the facts behind the figures.

posted by Kevin Dugan | 2:51:00 PM

Martha: A LONG Year in Review

This month-old article does a great job at predicting what might happen to Martha Stewart. It's been one year since the stock sale in question occurred—a mere six months since the likes of you and I caught wind of it.

This year, there will be no Martha Stewart Annual Christmas Special on CBS. She's sticking to her silent strategy.

By laying low, Stewart distances herself from the larger brand—a brand she will still own 61 percent of if she is asked to step down as CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

Regardless of what happens here, the Martha Stewart Living brand will survive. And it kind of makes you wonder.

posted by Kevin Dugan | 2:30:00 PM

Wednesday, December 11, 2002  

Alphabet Soup

This post was originally going to point you to a new blog focusing on business to business.

Then the alphabet soup headline popped into my head: FYI on B to B Blog. This reminded me that an easy step we can take to communicate more clearly is limit acronym use.

Far too often, we litter our work with acronyms to shorten the document and save a few keystrokes. The end result? Some pretty bad sins committed against the church of the well-turned phrase.

You surf the Web enough to have been on the receiving end of this phenomenon. You've probably even had to rely on one of my favorite reference sites to decode news you've come across within your clients' industries. It's a pain in the neck. Perhaps an easy New Year's resolution might be a pledge to stop the madness and use fewer acronyms in 2003.

posted by Kevin Dugan | 1:15:00 PM

Monday, December 02, 2002  

The Ries' are Wrong

Nothing like a confrontational headline to gain your attention, eh? Al & Laura Ries are dancing on the grave of advertising in their latest book: "The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR." Many a PR person is squealing with delight over the title. I can hear the PRSA luncheon small talk now, "Finally, we gain some well-deserved respect." Well, respect is earned. A book cannot somehow bestow respect upon someone.

And yes, I do disagree with the Ries' title as much as you might disagree with the one above.

Even case histories like the Razor Scooter will not change my mind. Razor has sold more than five million scooters and it has not spent a dime on advertising. Grass-roots marketing, word of mouth and public relations did all of Razor's heavy lifting.

So why am I bashing public relations?

I am not bashing public relations, or Al & Laura Ries. Debating which marketing communications discipline is the best is moot and does nothing to earn public relations respect. It is the right mix, working together, that creates results. Driven by research, Razor realized ads would not reach their target market. They created a mix of marketing tactics that would reach their target market. And they have five million plus units sold to prove they were right. This impressive case does nothing to prove advertising is less effective than public relations.

Ads, public relations and the rest of marketing all have their place. And they are most effective when based on accurate research and driven by insightful strategies.

posted by Kevin Dugan | 3:18:00 PM