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Talking to Ourselves

Many of us spend a lot of time talking to ourselves.  We have this constant inner dialogue happening that provides running commentary, works as a censor, allows an opportunity to rehearse/school our thoughts, helps us evaluate options and stave off pure panic (“Okay Robin, take it easy, it’s not that bad. So you’ve split your pants.  Nobody noticed.  Just take off your sweater and tie it around your waist to cover your…”)  Overall, this is a good thing.  At least, it works for me and helps keep me (relatively) sane.

Recently, however,  a client contacted us after receiving a report around the activity for a press release they had posted, asking for some input on what they might have done to achieve better results. Our bottom line answer?  They did not provide information that was interesting to their consumer.

In the body of the news release, they were talking to themselves.

How We End Up Talking to Ourselves

Internal culture is important.  Some people argue that culture is even more important than strategy.  I thoroughly agree with Venkatesh Rao — culture and strategy are complementary, both equal and vitally important to success and achievement, like two sides of a coin.

Culture is based on shared ideas, philosophies and common goals.  It is language, behaviour, customs and rules, both overt and unspoken.  It is fueled by celebrations of success.

Which brings me back to our disappointed client.  Having held management roles, I know how important acknowledgment is.  And that public acknowledgement is more powerful than recognition given in private.  There is constant pressure to ensure employees are aware of how important they are, of the contribution they make to the company’s achievements and success.  Kudos and accolades function as rewards.

If you are a company, how do you get the public to be aware of your accomplishment?

You tell the public.  You write a press release about the award you’ve received, the contract you’ve won, the terrific program you’ve launched.  And you distribute it.

The key question you must ask is:  What about your news is interesting to your consumer?  What about the award, contract or program will provide benefits or value to them?  Unless you can answer this question, then this news is only important to you and when you write your release, you will only be talking to yourself.

I came across a research report (small base) entitled “An inconvenient PR Truth” about irrelevant press releases.  Along with some incredibly high estimates of the number of  “irrelevant” press releases journalists receive every day, it showed that the story types that are the least popular are: 1. Office Openings; 2. Appointments; 3. Financial Results; 4. Awards; and 5. Client/Customer Wins.

How Do We Ensure We’re NOT Talking to Ourselves?

Be honest.  Be rigorous in evaluating the PR opportunity.

If there is an actual and appreciable benefit that the winning of a contract or an award will bring to your customer/consumer, for example (and this is a stretch), your company will be able to expand production which will result in significantly lower costs, then yes, you may be able to craft a press release around this.

If you are unable to come up an important benefit or added value for the end-user, then don’t do it.   Because if you do, chances are, you are only talking to yourself.

Sending out a press release, by whatever vehicle, which doesn’t get picked up can be a  use of time and resources that might well be more appropriately replaced by an internal celebration.

Talking to ourselves should be a private process, not a public one.