Whenever I tell people I work in public relations, a frequent response is “spin.” You spin the issues, they say. These days the concept of “spin” has taken on an even darker connotation with the advent of fake news. But spin belongs in a class at the gym, not in PR.
Politicians engage in “spin” to shift comments and events in their direction, and it may happen elsewhere as well. But not here!
We base our approach in journalism. Tell the story, get the facts out and the rest will follow. That’s why I prefer the term “strategic communications.”
That still requires a professional approach. We run into a lot of people who think because they can talk they are communicators. But when there’s a specific objective it is different. As my fellow PR professionals can attest, we do more than just talk or Tweet. We work with:
· KEY MESSAGES – What are we trying to say — what’s important — and how do we boil it down to relevant and brief statements that are understandable. This is a no jargon zone.
· TARGET AUDIENCES – we determine whom we want to reach and what part of our message is relevant to them. This may vary for each target audience. The facts remain the same, but the relevance and interest changes from one group to another. For example, what’s important to investors may not be as important to patients.
· CALENDAR – when I started in PR I was surprised to hear about a calendar for messages. “News is news,” I thought. “How can you put it on a calendar?” Of course, you can look at a company’s plans, clinical trials, presentations at medical conferences and so on. Planning and timing are critical to effective communications.
· TOOLS – I’m often asked by clients to issue a press release. But releases are just one tool we have available – an effective tool for rapidly disseminating information, but just one of our tools nonetheless. We also have direct contact with media (email or phone), social media, spokespeople – in medical PR patients to tell their stories are critically important. In our case one of our specialties is VIDEOS, building on my career in TV news. (I’m in PR, I should say “award-winning career,” but that sounds self-serving.)
In the end, an effective campaign boils down to a good news story: person and an issue of importance or relevance, and the facts that support it. And we’ve built our reputation on solid journalism. There’s no spin here.
Stephen Gendel Managing Partner Initiate PR and Video