Opening up PR
It could be described as one of the invisible media components, seen only by the effects. Bird Lovegod opens the conversation…
Nicola, please introduce yourself … My name is Nicola and my career has revolved around communication for the past 20 years. I am currently the named Founder and Owner of PR and Marketing Company FP Comms, a PR company dedicated to promoting those businesses that are focused on doing social good and better capitalism – regardless of sector. Within our client-base we are attracted to businesses that have at the core of their DNA: wellbeing: mental, physical and emotional, fairpay and sustainability. As I want to help those companies that have the welfare of our future generations at the heart of what they do.
Let’s talk about PR … how does it work, what is it even?… PR in a nutshell is the focus and management of a business’ or person’s relationship with the public. Many people think of PR as just what you see on TV, in the press, on the radio, on a blog, podcast …. but it is more than that. It is about the connection between two points. The practicalities of PR revolve around working with anyone with access to a wider audience, so that a message can be shared. However, from my point of view PR is about honest and transparent communication, which elevates others to take positive actions. Be-it, promote a good product, educate people, apologies or/and demonstrate our commonality as human beings – (after all entrepreneurs/business owners are just people too).
That said in my opinion, PR has been hijacked by a small sector of ‘professionals’ who create sleek messages, to manipulate other people’s behaviors. But I see this as a short-term behavior. The businesses that think long-term, value and see the importance of a transparent PR strategy. I know what I am saying is not a popular thing to say, but, it stands to reason, that if we continue to promote negative and salacious messages, we will have a society of negativity.
How did you get into the business?… I always knew I wanted to run my own business, but never knew what it would be. However, it was a wonderful meeting with a film director, that led to the path of starting a Media Agency. After a few year, I went out on my own and focused on communications, with the majority of my work focused around PR. I like to see people winning, so for me it was about finding those people who are really committed to succeeding and succeeding big.
How have you seen it change?… In regards to press coverage specifically, when I started there were a lot fewer platforms to communicate via. Today, the consumption of information is far wider, this has worked to the industry’s advantage and disadvantage.
How is it changing? … There is a democratisation of the narrative, there is less control and access to the news and it has become more accessible across so many platforms. However, there is also an information overload and a mist between deciphering what is credible and unauthenticated information. The news cycle is far faster too. This means if you want to be ‘relevant’ there has to be a consistency of storytelling across all platforms regularly. 20 years ago, a story could have a shelf life of a week or even two. In today’s environment, your article can become irrelevant within a few hours.
What’s important, to you as a PR person? … For me my job is to give a voice to businesses that want to do social good. As a mother, I am focused on ensuring that I play my part in sharing the stories that help good businesses to grow. It is that simple.
Why do you do what you do? It feels like a vocation and a calling.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job? The most satisfying part of my job is seeing the confidence of the business owners grow, as they achieve more and more coverage and they find their voice, tone and position in the world as a business owner. Also, the trust you build with your client.
And is there any part of it you find frustrating? The ingratitude of clients as they demand more and more. Good PR can often create beasts. It is slightly humorous to see their ego getting out of control, or when they think they can achieve the same success by themselves. But our approach is to take a step back and when they hit a crisis, they will usually come to you to help them get out of the challenging situation. Working in PR is truly a skill of patience.
The media has a bit of a love / hate relationship with PR … what do you think to that? I am actually working with an organisation, tackling this very issue in regards to the relationship between press and PR agencies.
I believe the relationship between media and PR should and can be a symbiotic relationship. A relationship where the journalist can trust the source, and agencies that can trust the story to be told honestly.
As an agency, we believe that the relationships you build with journalists has to be based on trust. Of course, we do not live in a land of utopia, so we do have damage response strategies in place for our clients. That said, we always tell our clients from the outset, no spin, no drama. Tell us the truth and we will position you honestly.
However, there is third party in this relationship, and that is advertisers. To maintain interest, many publications are seeking to feed the needs of the advertisers above the needs of the readers. This has an impact on the stories told and the approach of journalists.
Thank you Nicola, for your insights and honestly. I think the media is going through a time of unprecedented change and upheaval, and there’s some serious questions to be asked regarding the role and responsibly of all the components of media, including PR, advertisers, lobbiests, social media platforms and influencers, and the audiences. Let’s pick this conversation up again next month.
‘To be continued…’