Sunday, March 27, 2005

A Conversation PR People Should Not Miss

Markets are conversations between humans. That's where context plays its crucial role.

So often, conversations that are run through the corporate-filter lose their genuiness. As customers we are alert for the moose poop. We see adjectives as red flags. We see jargon as bluffing. Instead, talk to me in a clear English sentence and talk to me about something that interests me. Or, you know what? I'm busy. Goodbye.

-- Amazon’s website is a conversation about books and movies.
-- Linux is a conversation about making a better operating system.
-- This blog is a conversation about the role of context in marketing.

Contextual PR is not about news releases or staged news conferences … it is about real and meaningful conversations with journalists … such relationships then lead to meaningful news coverage.

Sure we need to provide information about the products ... about the company behind the products ... about the leaders behind the company.

But if we stop there, we have missed the opportunity to engage in the conversations that are happening in the marketplace.

The conversations are going on in the marketplace, whether or not we engage is the only question. Far too many companies fail to engage.
Engaging in the Conversation

Consider for a moment the conversation that Steve Kayser, PR Director at Cincom Systems, has started.

It is a conversation about children.

Specifically, those caught in the recent tsunami.

It is a conversation happening through Cincom client, Christian Childrens Fund and how they are providing help and hope to The Tsunami Generation.

It is one of many similar conversations that Steve initiates in Cincom’s twice-a-month eNewsletter called Expert Access.

It is a conversation that should make all PR people in the world proud and inspired at what they can do – reaching out far beyond the products they promote, to the very root of humanity.

I encourage you all to read Expert Access if you want to learn how PR can enable contextually relevant conversations that collectively become the marketplace.

What did this conversation with humanity do for Cincom? First, it discharged part of the company's responsibility to be helpful to people. But it has also returned a closer bond between Cincom and its client -- Christian Childrens Fund. See what CCF's vice president, Betty Ford, wrote to Cincom:

"Just wonderfully awesome - a work of art!!! Congratulations, we are so very proud and I'm sending this link to the entire Marketing and Donor Services team and then sending it out world wide. Thank you so much for all you have done to help us. Thank you again for being such an outstanding partner with CCF. We appreciate every thing you do for us. After this one is published, how about coming back in six months and we can do another one on the long term interventions that we are working on now. I think people would like to hear about how the money was spent.Looking forward to your "next" article. Take care, Betty Forbes, CCF Vice President."

Now, that's a nice conversation!

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