PANKs, pics and gimmicks: Lessons from PR boot camp

In the spirit of Hemingway, where “all are apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master,” many PR agencies recently sent their senior communicators to the Fourth Annual PR Agency Boot Camp, hosted by the Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms and the Canadian Public Relations Society. Six members of the crew […]

In the spirit of Hemingway, where “all are apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master,” many PR agencies recently sent their senior communicators to the Fourth Annual PR Agency Boot Camp, hosted by the Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms and the Canadian Public Relations Society.

Six members of the crew at Apex PR share their top PR boot camp takeaways:

Know your clients’ business. “What impact will this campaign or idea have?” This is the key thing we should always be asking ourselves, according to panellists from TD, McDonald’s, Walmart and Toyota. If your ideas aren’t driving the business, then you probably shouldn’t be pitching them. By putting ourselves in our client’s shoes and thinking like them, we can anticipate their needs and make decisions accordingly.
Jennifer Stein, account director

“People are equally motivated by security and excitement” was one of many insights Kasi Bruno of Y&R shared on the truth about consumers. Also, shifts in societal norms—such as the increasing dominance of women, the rise of domestic dads and the emergence of PANKs (professional aunt, no kids)—require new focus. Are you aware that women shop for Cheerios, Tropicana and Pantene, while men shop for cereal, orange juice and shampoo? Now that you do, how will it affect how you communicate?
Daina Astwood-George, account manager

“Integration is king—no idea is an island,” said Karen Howe of One Advertising about taking thinking outside the box to the next level. By sharing highlights from the 2013 Cannes Review, she reminded us to find surprising ways to integrate marketing, advertising and PR to create engaging and heartfelt experiences for people. Her advice? Allow others to co-create, be clever and don’t be afraid of big ideas.
Merissa King, associate

Real-time marketing may not be the answer. Dave Jones’ presentation on the recent real-time marketing fad really confirmed some of my own opinions on the subject. Jones’ case studies showed how much planning, research and thought goes into successful social media executions to ensure they’re on-brand and don’t devolve into something gimmicky and forgettable. Jones summed it up with a quote from DDB Canada’s Ed Lee: “Participation does not equal relevance. It’s about the right time, not real-time.”
Gary Edgar, director of digital strategy

Great content is not enough. Steve Ladurantaye of Twitter Canada emphasized that brands need to know how to share strategically with their audience to be successful on Twitter. For example, the best way to increase your follower base is to live-tweet something exclusive or newsy. Add a picture and you could get as much as 27% more engagement. As per BuzzFeed’s @JPerelman, “Content is king, but distribution is queen and she wears the pants.”
Hilary Lawton, senior consultant

PR has not changed, even though some think it has. While there are more tools being used today, what Paul Holmes of The Holmes Report was getting at is that “things that defined PR 10 to 15 years ago are the things that still define PR today.” Public relations continues to be about transparency. To build on his point, he added that PR has been falsely categorized by some as “media relations and publicity” as opposed to defined by strategy.
Diane Bégin, account director

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