Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - How do you Do PR Without Looking Like You're Selling Something?


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@Tom - some call it integrity (do what you say you'll do, I rather like this definition), recently I'm hearing alignment a lot. Maybe because the social media gold rush by organizations is shining a bright light on the internal house, so to speak. Thank you for contributing and extending the conversation.

@Christian - people flee PR folks who sell, too. That's not their role. Everyone sells, if not good, ideas, all day long. The hallmark of a great sales person is being a top notch listener. In fact, look at a rapid and successful career and you'll see an accomplished listener. Public relations is the art and science of establishing relationships between an organization and its key audiences. While the ultimate purpose is to help the organization do business, it deals more with communicating, negotiating, and building a conversation between the organization and its publics. One last thought on sales - tact and grace alone don't cut it. You could be very tactful and graceful, but if you have no knowledge of the product or service, no sale. Thank you for arguing, good thoughts.

I have to respectfully but wholeheartedly disagree with you that "people flee sellers, especially in a bad economy". People flee sellers who have no tact or grace in their approach, and this is true no matter what's happening in the economy. A proper approach to sales is a true service to the consumer, and it is perceived as such also. It is appreciated. It is also profitable. It is also recession-proof.

The reason I feel this way beyond just a semantic disagreement is because selling is a foundational component of any successful business. Avoiding sales and focusing on marketing is to ignore a vital business component, which is the lifeblood of most small businesses.

The whole "selling without selling" mentality is just another way of avoiding learning how to sell with tact and grace. Learning the art of sales is a crucial element that will serve small business owners well and make their livelihood impervious to any downturn the economy wants to throw their way.

These are great ideas on strategies and tactics for executing a public relations program. However, I’d suggest that much more time needs to be invested up front on planning to develop image and reputation as a part of corporate strategy. What does the organization stand for? What are its core values? If it positions itself as providing the highest quality of customer service and a commitment to the communities it serves, can it deliver on the promise over time? Are internal policies and procedures aligned with the achieving the desired image over the next few years? Can it walk the talk and demonstrate proof of principle, as the engineers or scientists would say? The corporate commitment to core values and authenticity become the unifying forces that drive great PR -- building relationships with many important audiences and then reinforcing the relationships through continuous, creative communications and positive actions.

Tom Gable
APR, PRSA Fellow

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