The PR plan: Don’t start a campaign without it

You wouldn’t embark on a cross country car ride (do people still do that?) without giving some thought to a route, would you?  With GPS today, it is certainly easier than in past years, but still, you want to plan your journey.  If you’re going to drive 3,000 miles, why not give some thought to whether you want to see the mountains or the desert?  Landmarks or just open road?

The same holds true when planning a PR campaign.  It is not enough to do PR and marketing just for the sake of doing it.  You need to know your objectives.  What are you attempting to achieve?  Is it to increase sales or brand your company?  Create a reputation or protect the one you already have?  Or, all of the above?

There are two schools of thought when planning a PR and marketing campaign.  You can do lots of things a little bit, or a few things well.  In most cases the latter is the better choice.  Select a few activities that your organization has the talent, time and budget for, and focus on them.  If you take this approach, you will be sure to achieve success in some areas, rather than limited success in many.

Will the press recover?

Thankfully, the presidential race is over.  It was an ugly, brutal, vicious fight of the left against the right, or whatever the other side is called.  And as everybody can’t stop discussing, the outcome was a surprise.  We now have president-elect Donald Trump.

Many would say it wasn’t a fair fight.  However, the person who had the cards stacked against him, won.

The huge part of the “finger on the scale” was the mainstream media who were overwhelmingly in favor of Hillary Clinton.  Clinton got something like 28 editorial endorsements while Trump got two.  Not to mention night after night of critical reporting, that didn’t even pretend to be objective.

In journalism school, which eventually led me to a career in PR, objectivity was king.  There was an era of “yellow journalism” where the press had no problem making their political views known.  That was before my time.  But in the last 40 years at least, the media has lived by the credo that they report the news, not make it and certainly don’t promote it.

This election proved just the opposite.  The media, led by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CNN and most others, didn’t even pretend to be objective.  They were so pro Clinton that they didn’t even try to mask their favoritism.  They chose partiality over the basic tenants of their profession.

Now that the election is over, my question is will the media ever regain the trust of the American people?  Will it ever again be viewed as an impartial source that reports facts “without fear or favor” as the famous New York Times founder Adolph Ochs said more than a hundred years ago.  How long will it take to regain the trust of the public?

Perhaps the real question is whether the media even want to regain that trust. Perhaps the media is fine being advocates rather than reporters.  Perhaps the era of objective journalism has passed and now the media serve to elect politicians whom they choose, pass bills they like and assure that pet projects are initiated.

Time will tell, and I remain impartial in the recent election.  But I sure miss the days when my local newspaper just reported the facts.