Are You Trapped in the PR Twilight Zone?

by PR Coach

Are you caught in the public relations Twilight zone?

One of the challenges with public relations, marketing or social media is the temptation to do more instead of better communication. I call this the PR Twilight Zone.

To quote the creator of The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling:

“You’re travelling through another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Next stop the Twilight Zone.”

The trouble is, in the PR Twilight Zone, we’re overwhelmed by choices. Too many messages and social media channels to handle. Desperately trying to keep up with local, national and international news while looking over our shoulders at up-to-the-minute Internet news.

In social media, there’s too much noise. We’re hearing but we’re not listening very well. Responding to social media channels? Getting harder every day and soon to be next to impossible.

One TV screen is not enough. We feel compelled to add our iPhone, tablet or laptop. We’re in danger of entering the Twilight Zone of too many screens. A house of mirrors.

Tom Fishburne, aka the Marketoonist, captured this insight superbly in a recent post Marketing Clutter.

“There has never been a greater level of marketing clutter. Yankelovich Consumer Research charts that “we’ve gone from being exposed to about 500 marketing messages a day back in the 1970s to as many as 5,000 a day today.”

At the same time, marketing communication is often little more than a string of adjectives: bigger, better, faster, cheaper, etc.

So we marketers are interrupting consumers more, but with fewer meaningful things to say….”

How does this relate to PR?

The "old" PR isn't working. We need fresh ideas.

Public relations is caught in the same spiral. The “old” style of PR doesn’t work any more. News releases need to be reinvented. Pitching has changed dramatically. . Bloggers have influence. Me-me-me media relations turns off reporters and carpet bombing the media no longer works.

Traditional media audiences are dropping and as a result of budget and people cutbacks, it’s getting harder to reach editors and reporters. Breaking through the clutter of social media is getting more challenging every day. Responding to a crisis puts tremendous pressure on every organization. And hey. There’s only 24 hours in a day!

How can we do public relations better?

With all these challenges, what can we do better?

  • Listen better: hear more effectively using monitoring tools to cut through the clutter.
  • Choose media better: be more selective about what you read and watch; high grade your traditional media choices.
  • Be better socially: similar to traditional media, choose your social media channels carefully; don’t try to do it all; follow up and do the most important things first.
  • Pitch better: if your pitches and media relations look like the release above, you need to rewind, rethink and restart fresh.
  • Network better: surround yourself with knowledgeable, talented pros in your field in person and in social media.
  • Pick better curators: find and manage your sources of quality information; fine tune them; turn down the volume and turn up the relevance.
  • Be better: do fewer, better communications.
  • Be different: to be better you need to stand out; there’s only one way – you need to stand for something that breaks you out of the pack whether it’s news, your content marketing, advertising or the way you conduct yourself on social media.

In this era of always-on, always-available, digital overload, sometimes the best and smartest choice is not to try and do more. You’ll be many times more memorable and effective if you do PR better.

To paraphrase Nike, Just Do It… Better! That’s the only way to escape from the public relationsTwilight Zone. May you escape and find success in another dimension.

If you liked this interplanetary PR musing, you may also like these recent posts:

The PR Puzzle: Will They Ever Trust Us?
PR 2.0? Inspiration first. Technology last.
PR 2.0 Trend: 10 Ways Tablets Will Impact PR
What are the Top PR Trends for 2012?
Will That Be Value or Values with Your PR?
Ten PR Truths: How Do You Measure Up?
Public Relations: Great or Gone in 7 Seconds?

As always, you can browse the virtual PR Library‘s 7,500+ links, articles and resources anytime. Just beware the grouchy librarian! Don’t forget to sign up for the PR Coach blog for weekly tips and insight too.

Jeff DomanskyAPR is a PR and social PR strategist. He blogs at The PR Coach and you can also follow him on Twitter @theprcoach or (PR 2.0 Insight).

Photo: The Twilight Zone by
 Roadsidepictures via Flickr
Visual: Courtesy of the Marketoonist, Tom Fishburne,: For Immediate Release

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