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Micro PR

We’ve come a long way from Edward Bernays’ Torches of Freedom and his United Fruit Company campaigns. Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923) was instrumental in guiding government agencies, politicians, and non-profit organizations to become skilled practitioners of crowd psychology and psychoanalysis, but now the hyper-adoption of social media and the world wide web place us in an even stranger spot.

In 2012, Public Relations Society of America voters were unequivocal in their belief that any modern definition of public relations should not include the word “ethics.” When asked whether the word “ethics” should be included in the winning definition, 60.3 percent of those who voted said No. Furthermore, an aggregate of 57.3 percent of voters indicated “No” to including the word “ethics” in any modern definition of public relations. 

Here’s what PRSA voters actually came up with:

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between
organizations and their publics.”

Now in 2023 we have a very effective and valuable communications strategy that needs to be re-visited and incorporated into a new tactics mix. Here are several tactics that use modern digital channels and classic communication methods to pay homage to crowd psychology and psychoanalysis and help ‘build mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.’

Social Media

Micro PR on social media is one way to leverage influencers beyond your traditional work with trade editors and industry partners. Connect with brand, media and industry association social media teams that are aggressively looking for engagement benefits for their channels. Research the social media channels of people with a direct line to your target audience. Be careful to choose influencers, not by size, but by effectiveness. Many influencers will unethically sell their numbers in leu of effectively reaching your audience. Consider moderate to small-tail influencers.

Host Events

Nothing beats face-to-face communication (especially after several years of Covid lockdowns). There is a new appreciation for in-person action and re-imaging of brick-and-mortar facilities. Consider facility tours, one-day workshops, showcasing thought leaders through a press event, live demos or customer panels. There are plenty of ways to produce customer interactions, as well as record such interactions for social media channels and to study customer feedback.

Online Reputation Monitoring

Part of the regular process of maintaining a healthy social media channel is monitoring for comments and mentions of the brand (or industry – tags and terms) on social media. Monitor not just social channels, but set up Google Alerts (blogs, social channel not scraped by monitors, etc.). Build a robust Customer Response Inventory so that the entire team can respond effectively and rapidly.

Search Engine Optimization

Links to your brand are one of the most important ways for your website to rank on search platforms and generate even more coverage. Creating content pillars will take this search engine tactic to another level. Content pillars are 3 to 5 topics that your brand will consistently discuss, amplify, and create content for on social media and on your website.

Activate Employees

Your employees are low-hanging fruit and your biggest brand advocates. Deploy them. Continually educate them on what social media channels that your brand publishes for each week. Establish a rewards program to encourage your employees to spread the word about your brand on the social media channels they maintain. Minimal employee engagement (Likes, Comments and Shares) will activate each social media channel’s algorithm to accelerate the delivery of that post in the newsfeed. No employee engagement is a missed opportunity.

Webinars and Podcasts

Are you still stretched thin for in-person connections? Showcase your thought leaders via webinars or podcasts. This type of content can be easily multi-purposed and highlighted on YouTube and other social media channels. One 30-minute cast can equal dozens of still images, shorter video segments and more to help users connect to your brand’s content from a different entry-point.

Community Engagement

You will never win the battle of selecting the best awareness topic. Fifty percent of your customer base is at risk with each effort. Connect your products and services to your workforce. You can control each end of this equation. Drumbeat your people and your process. 1. This kind of community engagement is distinctly different that your competitor’s focus. 2. Your workforce is inherently authentic. 3. Your brand’s active ‘disruption’ in this space actually helps it return to stable, sustainable messaging.

Next Steps

What is the purpose of public relations in 2023? Perhaps, it’s to foster an authenticity that so many crave in an economy that appears to operate at a surface level. But we are certain that any campaign touting ‘values’ and ‘authenticity’ might be interpreted as the opposite of that. Since modern PR was indeed aligned with crowd psychology and psychoanalysis, consider the tipping point, the jump-the-shark and the strange middle ground that we occupy at this moment.

Successful PR moments will be made up of “authentic” connections made by individuals distrustful of the current landscape. Can we get to this new spot? Not sure, but it’s certain that we are building a new PR framework on the rock-solid foundation of human behavior.