Nov 10, 2017 / by Russ Somers

The last couple of days have been a whirlwind, as the TrendKite team spent it immersed in the PR Daily World Conference, held at NPR headquarters in Washington, DC. The audience was from a wide range of organizations; we spent our time talking with communications pros from non-profit, governmental, and for-profit companies. Still, as communicators, they shared some common concerns, and three big themes emerged.


Relevance Is The Key to Breaking Through the Noise. There were so many amazing presentations, but Amir Bibawy (@AmirBibawy) from the Associated Press stood out with his talk on "How to Think Like a Journalist". As someone who endures hundreds of weekly pitches, almost all irrelevant, he had great perspective. He tossed out so many great soundbites that I was tweeting and texting furiously to the team at TrendKite HQ during his talk, with thoughts like:

  • Know your journalist and what they currently write and care about. A pitch about a beat that a journalist hasn’t covered in years is irrelevant. (Editor’s note: sadly, legacy media databases make this mistake all too easy).
  • A pitch is ten times more important to a journalist than a press release. In fact, Amir stated, “If it’s just a press release, it’s not going to get you results anymore...”, because it doesn’t really ask you to do anything.
  • When he and five colleagues receive the same blanket pitch, none of them will cover it, because each may assume one of the other will respond. A tailored, specific pitch with a clear ask will get better results. 



Organizations and Individuals Can Be Redeemed - through communications. Dierdre Breakenridge (@dbreakenridge) led a powerful and sometimes emotional discussion with Richard Bistrong, a defense-industry executive who plead guilty in 2009 to conspiracy to pay bribes and illegally export goods, leading to an 18-month prison sentence. Typically, you’d think of that as a career-ending event.


You’d be wrong.


After being freed, Bistrong reinvented himself as an expert on anti-bribery measures and compliance. Just as some of the world’s most respected information security consultants leverage the knowledge they gained early in life as hackers, Bistrong used his experience to identify the social, economic, and structural triggers that can lead to bribery and fraud. He now works as a speaker and consultant on the such issues.


However, it wasn’t an easy journey, especially when the #1 search result for your name are records of your court cases. Breakenridge took Bistrong through his journey, explaining how embracing “radical transparency” in publishing his journey on digital and social channels supported his transformation. That communication strategy was pivotal in gaining acceptance and handling critics. All organizations and individuals will make missteps. If Bistrong can use communications as a strategic tool to gain redemption, so can any individual or organization.


PR and Communications Pros are transforming into sophisticated data consumers. I gave a presentation on "Executing a Data-Driven PR Strategy". Since I’m a data-driven communicator at heart, it’s a theme I’ve touched on before at other conferences, and that we’ve published the Communicator’s Funnel best practice guide about.


I asked the audience a question that I often do: “How many of you have logged into a web analytics tool like Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics in the past month?” Two years ago, only a handful of audience members would raise their hands, preferring to leave those tools to their digital marketing team. This time, well over half the hands in the audience went up. Concepts like the SEO value of PR, once thought of as esoteric, were widely embraced. PR professionals are quickly coming to understand that they own more than just brand impact; they own and can take credit for digital impact and bottom-line impact as well.


As we talked post-session, a number of people expressed concern about sorting through all of the available digital metrics and data to arrive at insight. It’s a great question and well timed; on Tuesday, November 14th, we’ll have a Webinar covering Web Analytics’ Vital Role in Communications, featuring digital marketing expert Matt Brutsche. Join us and we’ll take the digital conversation to the next level.


All in all it was a fantastic conference, with great learnings for all - many thanks to the PR Daily team for their hard work and thought leadership in putting it on!

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