Last August, I spent a blissful week in the small town of Müstair, Switzerland as a presenter for the Summer School of the UNESCO chair in ICT. It was undoubtedly the highlight of my year, and I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in what an international and collaborative work space. There were 32 participants from 16 different countries, and we labored together, like a mini-United Nations, to find meaningful solutions to the questions that faced our respective fields. While in Müstair, many participants and fellow presenters sought advice as to how they could utilize strategic PR concepts into their respective projects in the tourism and cultural heritage sectors. What follows are three suggestions that my students and fellow participants found useful, and which can be employed in any PR initiative or project.
Knowing and voicing your respective organization’s mission is essential to PR professionals in a variety of sectors, but this is critical to those working in nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. I have seen organizations with talented teams, balanced budgets, and cutting-edge technology lose momentum and focus because their mission is either poorly understood or expressed. If employees within an organization fail to comprehend or recognize an established mission, then its intended public audience will never understand its intended mission either. This will hinder all subsequent public relations initiatives.
It is equally important for PR professionals to have frank and open discussions within their respective marketing and/or communication departments about audiences. Targeting chosen demographics through PR initiatives should be done with care and precision, and I recommend the undertaking of market research via questionnaires, surveys, and interviews before any such initiatives are implemented. If this is not done, time and capital are wasted and lost in the pursuit of fruitless activities. Quite often, PR teams and professionals have solid, general data as to their audiences, but research can reveal curious nuances that would otherwise go undetected. It is also worth pointing out that audiences, as well as their tastes and preferences, do change overtime. Rarely do they cease in evolving!
The power of good writing and a persuasive voice should never be underestimated. Whether in a local call-to-action campaign for an elementary school, in advertising directed at Chinese tourists, or in museum scriptwriting, language is the most powerful tool a PR professional has at their disposal. Effective storytelling techniques can make the difference in winning the hearts and minds of an audience, and a lucid explanation of purpose and value can ensure a ROI. Far too often, I see press releases that are either shallow in content or casual in tone, advertising full of clichés, and grant requests lacking immediacy. Annual reports are the worst — one would think companies and organizations are trying to comatose their shareholders and advisors rather than excite them!
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