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The Value of Public Relations Is Growing In the Digital Age

By May 30, 2014 No Comments

Public relations has evolved into one of the most transformative ways to build your brand in the marketplace. The value of PR has increased dramatically in recent history – and in the wake of scandals that have rocked society to the core, such as Enron, WorldCom and the Big 3 automakers (GM, Chrysler and Ford) flying expensive private jets during a multi-billion bailout, the PR counsel has metamorphosized into an integral part of the C-suite.

What used to be an industry made up of journalists–turned publicists and marketers, is now a corporate boardroom fixture. And through this transformation, the industry has outgrown those sophomoric clichés of our profession – referring to our craft as spin, our professionals as flacks and our currency as misrepresentation and disinformation. Here is how we’ve grown up in the digital age, and with it changing attitudes and perceptions:

o Public relations is more than managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics. It is a communications discipline that engages and informs key audiences, builds important relationships and brings vital information back into an organization for analysis and action. It has real, measurable impact on the achievement of strategic organizational goals.

o Public relations and publicity are not synonymous; publicity is a small subset and specialized discipline within public relations, often practiced by dedicated firms who may or may not possess broader strategic communications capabilities.

o A survey of chief marketing officers at major national and global advertisers conducted by the Association of National Advertisers found that the value public relations delivers as part of the overall marketing mix is increasing. Why? A few reasons. Public relations is closer to the perspectives, objectives and concerns of corporate CEOs than any other communication or marketing discipline. Public relations also sees “the whole corporate picture,” as it relates to issues that CEOs worry about. Finally, public relations is a key driver of business outcomes critical to organizational success, including crisis mitigation, reputation and brand building, consumer engagement, sales generation, wealth creation, issues management and beneficial shifts in constituent attitudes and behaviors.

o Public relations professionals have a special obligation to practice their craft ethically, with the highest standards of truth, accuracy, fairness and responsibility to the public. The Public Relations Society of America code of ethics provides a practical set of standards to follow in this regard.

Public relations has served immeasurable public good. It has changed attitudes and behaviors toward some of the world’s most pressing social issues, from breast cancer awareness to drinking and driving to smoking and obesity. The public relations industry also has prevented consumer injury and illness, raised awareness of products that have improved our quality of life, advanced worthwhile causes and provided pro-bono services for institutions that needed public relations assistance but could not afford it.

5 Brand Campaigns That Bring Pinterest Into Real World

Pinterest, the Internet’s mood board, has become the standard bearer for brands that want to express themselves visually while simultaneously giving people content to use socially. Often this content has no connection to a brand’s brick-and-mortar business, so here are five examples of retailers that are using the platform to tie the digital world back to the physical.

1. Kate Spade uses Place Pins feature to create city guides

For Kate Spade shoppers who worry that once they’re all dressed up they’ll have nowhere to go, the brand enlisted the new “place pins” feature. With the pins, they created city guides offering users places to check out in a number of socially acceptable locales in the U.S., Europe and Japan. The program includes a partnership with Fathom Guides, a digital resource for those seeking travel advice through itineraries with names like “It’s My First Time,” “Here on Business,” “Best Day Ever” and “With the Kids.” Culture and fashion newbies will appreciate these guides for their lack of tourist traps and focus on places the brand’s namesake might actually check out herself. Urban Outfitters created a similar place pin set called “The Fresh List,” which is essentially the same thing, just more hipstery.

2. Caribou Coffee asks mall shoppers to inspire a new blend

Sometimes connecting digital to physical is simpler than you think. Take Caribou’s recent campaign that literally rebuilt a Pinterest board in the Mall of America. The 64-foot-tall board included things that inspired actual people (i.e., “summer” and “my kids”) and was billed as an inspiration for a new blend, aptly named the “Real Inspiration Blend.” How the brand translated user submissions into the “bold, silky, bright and wild” blend that their brewers created from the campaign we’ll never know. But that giant board and the real coffee that resulted represent a new stage in, “phygital” brand work, to coin a new social phrase.

3. A “Backyard adventures with REI”

REI has since its inception had a section in every store where shoppers and employees would post pictures from their various adventures. Usually, these were 5×7 photos pinned to an old corkboard. The company has recently taken that innovation to the Web with “Backyard adventures with REI,” a partnership with power pinner Jennifer Chong, who travels to national parks around the country and takes pictures with her favorite products. It’s a subtle twist on the print magazine sent to REI members each month, which includes — you guessed it — photos of products being used in the wild. The difference between old media and new is palpable: Chong’s images have gotten thousands of repins, while most of those magazines end up in recycling bins or the trash. By the way, REI got into the place pin game as well with “Adventure Destinations.”

4. NBC, Lowe’s and the Ultimate Dream Builders

Here’s one that brings TV, the real world and the Internet together in an epic design apotheosis. NBC’s Ultimate Dream Builders is a contest of 12 designers hosted by Nate Berkus. You’ve probably watched it and drooled. This effort follows the show’s template that pits a team red against team blue, only this time they serve up their vision in the same format that makes Pinterest pop in the first place. But in this case, the content here could very well translate to your actual home, resulting in real prize money for the winners. It’s also a great way for Lowe’s to show off the brands they carry: All of the images are from

5. Target collaborates with top pinners for party purposes

A recent ad sums up Target’s “Party with Pinners” campaign, which brought together top pinners to create custom party-planning collections. The Pinterest board dedicated to this campaign includes products that fit into the collection as well as inspiration from the pinners. In-store, customers can find special sections with the products. It’s a digital extension of the brand’s partnerships with top designers, meant to give customers the feeling that they can put on well-designed parties without spending a ton.

Cool Mic | Coldplay Hides New Album Lyrics In 9 Libraries Worldwide

In a kind of low-fi version of Jay-Z’s celebrated Decoded outdoor ad campaign, Coldplay is promoting its new album, Ghost Stories, with a worldwide scavenger hunt — hiding lyric sheets in Chris Martin’s handwriting inside ghost stories in libraries around the world. Clues were revealed on Twitter, and the lyrics were hidden in nine different countries, one for each song on the record. Eight of the sheets have been found — in Mexico, Singapore, Finland, Spain, England, New Zealand, Ireland and the U.S. The Spin Cycle loves the notion of sending the public back into the library, an oasis that quenched the thirst for knowledge for generations, and has lost its luster to an online, Google-fueled existence. For that, Coldplay grabs the Golden Mic! has details of each discovery.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!