At Your Service
Liza and I have had some great conversations recently with clients, colleagues and recent college graduates about the future of public relations. We say (half-jokingly) that we are on a mission to prove that public relations firms aren’t just press release factories.
Sure, there is still a time and a place for distributing a press release to media contacts to announce company news. But with so many great tools at our disposal (research methods, consumer feedback, online media outlets, etc.), we can learn what our clients’ audiences want and need and then tailor PR programs to make sure the end consumer is satisfied with a product or service, as well as receive valuable feedback from them on how to fine-tune the process along the way.
If there is a complaint on an online message board, we can be the liaison between the company and the consumer to find a solution. If a media contact needs information on trends that affect a certain industry, we can coordinate an appropriate client resource to provide comment. If we need to spread the word about a new service or product, we have the capabilities to talk directly to the people who would be the most interested – and then get their feedback to tailor future activities.
And with this, our role as public relations practitioners has essentially turned into that of customer service agents.
Through research, market knowledge and monitoring our clients’ industries, our PR programs essentially ensure that a variety of internal and external audiences are have a good “customer” experience.
The power of PR is incredible. It can change behaviors, increase awareness and create loyal customers who wouldn’t dream of working with any other business. But it’s time that more of us put that notion to work. Instead of immediately typing out company news into a press release and blasting it out, we must challenge ourselves to ask, “Is this the best way to communicate this news?” “How will people be able to comment and respond to this?” and “What will we do with the feedback we receive to make our business stronger?”
When was the last time you had a great customer service experience and told your friends? Alternatively, when was the last time you had an awful experience with a business and told anyone who would listen?
Liza and I are challenging ourselves to be better Customer Service Agents in 2010 – and to continue to incorporate this process into how we develop PR programs for our clients.