It was a wonderful day at Reliant Park as PR professionals from around the city gathered to learn from some of the most renown people in the Marketing and Communications industry. The morning began with discussion about “trust” and how the media attempts to gain it from sources when breaking a story. Investigative reporters Wayne Dolcefino and Amy Davis expressed their concerns with the growing amount of distrust between people and the media. An estimate of 46% of the public trust a TV journalist.
As PR professionals, our relationship with the media is always important because they can make a story explode or tone it down (depending on how generous they are feeling). Lee Warren, manager of external communications for Marathon Oil Corporation, presented on ‘Crisis Communication-Proactive vs. Reactive PR’ and discussed the importance of building these relationships with the media before a crisis happens (be on the offensive, not defensive).
Obviously, being on the offensive doesn’t work for all problems. Let’s use British Petruleum, for example. When the oil spill occurred on the Gulf of Mexico, there were several angles to the story. You had people exposing stories about BP’s negligent behavior on testing the rigs, environmentalists complained about the oil stained beaches and wildlife deaths, the economy came into play when stories about oysters were being discarded and affecting Louisiana restaurants and tourism. This crisis is an example of how an unfortunate event can draw in multiple story angles, making it hard for any publicist to contain the problem.
In this case, regardless of what relationship you had with the media, there would be no way to downplay the severity of the matter at hand. It looks like the only remedy for an event like this would be a lot of money toward oil spill clean up (which BP and the government came to a $20 billion agreement) and loads of positive story fillers. However, I do completely agree that if you create a brand and keep a constant positive message, when something bad happens, you’ll have less of a problem gaining trust than if your brand was already scrutinized to begin with.
Another panel that I had attended was one called ‘True X, Y, Z’s of Social Media: Optimizing New Media in a Multi-Generational Workplace’. This panel was hosted by Monica Danna, Founder and CEO of Colab; Kelsey Ruger, Vice President of Design and Innovation for ChaiONE; Maggie McDonald, Sr. Account Coordinator, Marion Montgomery; Jay Steinfeld, Founder and CEO of blinds.com.
My favorite part about their presentation was their analysis on the differences of generations and how information is being displayed online. For example, the current generation is open to allowing the public to have a closer look into their personal lives. They tweet and post images on Facebook that a majority of the older generation may find distasteful. Also, growing up with cell phones and technology has added a new mix of resources that other generations didn’t have access to.
PR professionals range from various generations with different types of expertise and creativity so when it comes to social media, it’s important to keep yourself updated on the newest trends and updates so that you don’t fall behind, regardless of your age.