Where Are Our Fundamentals?

November 4th, 2011 | Guest Contributor | 17 Comments

building blocksGuest post by Harrison Kratz

A while back, I was involved in a discussion among my PR student community about the balance between social media and public relations.

While social media is a major factor in the future of PR, some students felt that we were all too focused on social media and forgetting our PR roots. Personally, I am adamant that many traditional PR tactics are fading. We need to have an innovative mind when learning how to adjust to the social world and industry we are now immersed in.

(Forgive me if I sound like a naïve millennial. I’m just speaking from what I’ve seen and the path I’ve been fortunate enough to take.)

That said, I think there are many fundamentals that are essential to succeed in the digital age. Unfortunately, many young professionals and students have seem to forgotten them, or aren’t applying them to new strategies and tactics that are taking the industry in a new and fruitful direction.

Here are three communication fundamentals that resonate no matter what tools and strategies we evolve with.

Writing

Just because we can now share our message or communicate in 140 characters or less does not mean writing is a lost art. In fact, I’d argue that it is more important than ever.

Writing concisely is an art and will make anyone a linchpin to his or her company.

A great tweet shouldn’t be filled with abbreviations, but rather contain a message that used to take a full page to say. When solid fundamentals combine with the knack for brevity that is required in social media, you will see that skill set carry much further than Twitter. You will start to communicate more efficiently and swiftly with media, bloggers, and your community.

Press releases

I will be the first to tell you (again, I’m a millennial) that the traditional press release is virtually dead. With so many new ways to spread our messages, a simple press release doesn’t exactly cut it.

That said, a good press release has always contained all of the information that one needs to learn about a certain event or product.

It’s important to remember how to write a great press release because it will allow you to understand what you need to include in your social media messages, and how you can relay the important details to your community while being brief and engaging.

I continue to refer to press release templates as a way to ensure I am including what is necessary.

Good old networking

I know, this must be millionth blog post about this, but another reminder can’t hurt right? I learned so much about networking etiquette and just how to get out there and meet people during my time at school and in PRSSA, and those lessons ring true today. The importance of face-to-face interaction will never be replaced nor diminished.

Online communications bridge the gaps and connect us with those that we wouldn’t have the pleasure of meeting otherwise, but the strongest relationships are still formed and nurtured through in-person interactions.

Never underestimate the importance of a great handshake and conversation.

I’m not saying anything particularly new here. But I felt it important to revisit the fundamental lessons we have all learned before too many young professionals are too distanced from them.

Social media and communications are not about the tools. We need to understand the fundamentals because the tools will change and the importance of adapting will increase with each step.

What fundamentals still ring true for you as social media continues to gain more and more importance in public relations?

Image: Nazly via Flickr, CC 2.0

Harrison KratzHarrison Kratz is the Community Manager at MBA@UNC, the new Online MBA program at the University of North Carolina and sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Tweet Drive.

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15 comments
KarenD.Swim
KarenD.Swim

Great reminder @HarrisonKratz for all generations to remember the fundamentals. One of the things I most appreciate is hearing the perspective and passion of a millennial. This brought up another basic for me - the need to communicate and collaborate with multiple generations. Some have grown up in the digital age, others have adapted and still others will cling to what is familiar and comfortable. There is a need to understand the broad spectrum and be open to using methods and tools in ways that make sense to your target audience.

JGarant
JGarant

Nice one @HarrisonKratz ! I agree that all three are still foundations of public relations. I also agree that there's a need to always keep the basics in mind - even as we face an environment that seems to be developing at an unprecedented rate of change. Yes we need to get to know the new tools and media environment that we now live and work in, but we should also take that time to step back and look at how we've evolved and where we've come from as individuals and a profession. I'll admit that it's easy to completely immerse yourself in the world of new media, technology and communications - but sometimes it takes stepping back momentarily to see the bigger picture and reflect on that change.

mdbarber
mdbarber

Good reminder @HarrisonKratz of the basics but I'm going to agree with @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing on the press release. Your perspective if from that of a millennial. It's definitely one we baby boomers need to understand.

In my experience, press releases are still valuable but the way we use them and distribute them is completely different. I've worked with clients who use the release to focus their thoughts and as the base document. Then, it's broken down and distributed using a wide variety of tools.... pieces in a tweet, posted to a web newsroom, pieces in a Facebook post, etc. It all depends on the objectives of the piece in the first place.

HarrisonKratz
HarrisonKratz

@Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing Thank you for your comment and I'm glad you liked the post. As far as the press release...YOU are absolutely right. I wrote this with passion and put a little too much millennial juice into that section haha. (Where are my fundamentals?!) Thank you for addressing that because even I have corrected my thinking since writing this post. Sometimes I need to be a little grounded :)

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR

Harrison, props! Love to see this counsel coming from a true "millennial." Absolutely nothing replaces good old fashioned networking (even social media which makes it easier). And, if you come to me for a job, I'm hopeful that you'll use my engagement on the interwebz to further impress me during networking...!

Writing and the press release -- yes. But, I have to say press releases may be dead in your book, but when you want an archive of factual information on your news center, press releases are it. And, let's not forget, the publicly traded company that HAS to do press releases to conform to the SEC.

HarrisonKratz
HarrisonKratz

@KarenD.Swim I love your point about communicating with other generations. That's a challenge/experience I find myself facing every day and I actually always find myself being a better communicator because of it.

HarrisonKratz
HarrisonKratz

@JGarant Well said Jamie! Good to know us millennials are going to be able to carry the torch :)

HarrisonKratz
HarrisonKratz

@mdbarber Thanks for your feedback! Like I said in my previous comment, I agree with you and @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing . I think I devalued the press release here way more than I should've and put in a little too much millennial juice! Thank you for bringing me down to earth b/c it is still so important - we just now have more ways to communicate that information as well as support the actual release.

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  1. [...] The first from Harrison Kratz talked about the fundamentals and basics in PR in the context of social media: writing, press releases and networking. [...]

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