The irony in the term “public relations” is that most of us don’t like to conduct our relationships in public, preferring to focus on nurturing more personal connections with journalists and other influencers. This doesn’t mean that we should be “invisible persuaders” acting in an unethical manner behind closed doors, rather the benefits of public relations are most apparent when a targeted rather than a mass market approach is undertaken.
The next edition of Revolve (the magazine for members of the Motor Industry Public Relations Association) will include a feature about the value of motor shows. Every member of the media asked for their view emphasised the importance of one-to-one meetings with executives, engineers and designers over press conferences where bland messages and dry facts are delivered to an assembled mass of journalists. The opportunity for private conversations with individual public relations practitioners was highlighted, even by those who represent online media.
Aren’t they clamouring for the chance to comment on podcasts, social media news releases or downloaded video then? No – but the ability to access information via the Internet rather than having to collect fat press packs is now expected. Indeed, the only people eager for the printed word are those looking to make a quick selling via eBay.
Journalists and PR practitioners agree there is no substitute for meeting in person, and, in the case of new car launches, seeing and touching the metal. The excitement of an unexpected reveal, the buzz of a busy press day and a positively-charged atmosphere cannot be replicated online.
As one journalist commented: “motor shows are an opportunityto do ‘proper’ journalism – everybody is there and you have a chance to interview the key team”.
Just because everybody is there, doesn’t mean that comments need to be conducted in public – via dull press conferences. Instead, this exciting environment offers numerous opportunities for private conversations. It might be public relations, but many of us prefer to do it in private.