Monday, June 3, 2013

Analyzing the Global PR Practice

by Khiara McMillin

While studying abroad in London, England, in summer 2012, I had the opportunity to analyze and compare various global public relations agencies. Each day, employees laid out their daily work schedules to educate and advise ambitious PR students of what it means to be globally PR and how to consistently maintain that presence within an organization. An independent PR and digital communications agency called Kaizo aims at helping brands realize their ambitions in terms of profile, sales, market share and positioning by connecting and converting those that influence, from broadsheet media, to “mums” online. Another agency, Ketchum, is ranked among the largest and most geographically diverse PR agencies, operating in 70 countries. This organization demonstrated a few of its most successful case studies to students. Throughout the meetings, common PR terms continued to be repeated by both agencies while communicating the principle.

Crispin Manners, an employee from Kaizo, highlighted one of the most recurrent terms when learning PR. He said, “Trusted content is at the heart of purchase decisions.” Trust seems to be one of the core principles that PR practitioners must keep in mind at all times. By comparing Ketchum PR agency and Kaizo employee, Manners, it is evident that both use a wide variety of strategic tactics which illustrate global PR. For example, Ketchum demonstrates this framework by the selected case studies collectively analyzed during its discussion. One employee focused on the important obligation of global PR practitioners to connect and build relationships with their key publics. She pointed out that in order to do this, it is essential to do extensive research on your target publics. It is critical to grasp an understanding of audience norms and values to adjust a message particularly to fit their needs. The ‘Marmalade,’ “Bring Back Breakfast” campaign case study is a perfect example. During this campaign, employees at Ketchum researched the underlying problem of decreased marmalade sales and discovered this was a product used predominately by an older age group which ultimately led them to their key publics: younger folks. The agency then incorporated the Paddington Bear, a fictional character in British children’s literature, as visual stimuli during the campaign which served to mirror the geographical location and age of its target publics. In essence, by taking time to build a genuine understanding of its target publics, Ketchum succeeded in thoroughly performing its objectives and goals. Manners also strengthened this element when he explained how Kaizo worked to strategically assemble a diversity of mundane household products in a profoundly clever way. This framing technique worked to effectively carry out its goal of getting people to listen to its message and fundamentally winning their confidence and trust in the core advantages of buying and using these products. The company was praised by a volume of positive media coverage. Again, it pinpoints the high-priority requirement of PR practitioners to research their publics and compose a message accordingly to their wants and needs.

Both agencies signified a high level of global PR tactical application. One apparent difference was the degree of emphasis Manners placed on social media. His definition was simple: “A conversational medium for people with shared interests.” It really accentuated the basic feature of organizations physically and virtually interacting and communicating with people to build that dynamic set of relationships that is so compulsory in international PR. The best global PR practitioners are ones that immerse themselves in as many different cultures as possible. By the end of my travels, I became acutely aware that PR isn’t only about earning positive media coverage but, also, setting tangible goals to help people better live their lives. It is doubtlessly an essential part of life for everyone living within a community.