A Brand (PR) Apart
So many public relations agencies and other marketing-related groups emphasize their prowess in helping clients build their brands, Fineman PR among them with its time-tested “Brand PR” approach.
I wonder, however, how effective are PR agencies at promoting their own brands? What defines and differentiates them in a meaningful way? What helps prospective audiences understand the promise public relations firms are making and, ultimately, why should their audiences care?
That was a hot topic around here this past week when a longtime client called us “Best-In-Class.” Thought-provoking to say the least, so we asked ourselves: What are the ramifications of being Best In Class? How can we bottle it and promote it as the definition of Fineman PR? How can we communicate that to our potential customer base? How do we make that part of our brand messaging?
In reviewing the reasons for why we believe it is true (and being sure we are not just drinking the “Kool Aid”), we agreed that our 25 years of staying power was, at least, part of the answer. Certainly, our well documented success with high profile crises is a factor as well as our numerous launches of diverse premium products and, even, whole categories of products. Yes, we’ve earned an excellent reputation over the years. But, is that what constitutes a brand? Is that what our client meant? I say no to both.
A brand is more than a reputation, and our client was not complimenting us on our history. So, how then, do we tangibly define our brand four client said stands for excellence? Well, a brand must be more than a platitude; it must be dynamic with a suggestive quality attached that leaves both a visual impression in the brain and an emotional connection in the heart or nerve endings. In public relations terms, what’s the story or continuing legacy that’s going to continue reinforcing that impression or thought on hearts and minds? More to come below about what we decided, but, first …
I surveyed the websites for a view of how other agencies branded their perceived attributes, and, as you will note, some are better or clearer than others:
- “The Power of True” encapsulates what one group says it stands for, whether it’s about ethics, the conversations the agency promotes, vision behind its programs or the agency’s creativity. At the very least, it’s aspirational.
- Another group promotes that it is all about strategy, message architecture, creative, connections and acting as a catalyst.
- “We motivate people to change deeply ingrained behavior,” states another. “We make them believe.”
- At another site, “gold standard performance; ideas driven, results oriented, evidence based.”
- Breaking through to relevance, to initiating buzz and conversation, building communities and engaging stakeholders, claims another.
- “The wisdom business.”
- “Public Relations is a mindset more than a set of tactics and tools.” This definition of the profession for which one group stands is one of the better ones in my opinion; substantive, insightful.
So where does that leave Fineman PR?
My view … a white shirt; simple and clean and with substance. A principled, unfettered, fresh approach, flexible with changing times and circumstances. Nimble, business-like guardians of client brands, moderate – not radical, not reactionary – ethical, high energy, unafraid to make a clear statement or provide clear counsel, buttoned-up when necessary, focused, responsive, always appropriate and ready to go.
With a substantive approach, the client gets his value. Her brand appears heroic at every turn based on a strong foundation of right decisions, ethics and an understanding of the audience mindset. To cite just a few examples: client campaigns endorsed by brand name in an L.A. Times editorial; client stories accorded front page/homepage feature coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle and USA Today; clients helped by counsel that stops labor actions in their tracks with solid, out-in-front, transparent communications; and clients boosted by substantive advocacy that keeps major print media from publishing inaccurate and unfair activist charges.
For our own brand cause? With thought leadership that helps educate the marketplace about the value of effective communications: articulating the Brand PR difference for communicators; the widespread publication of our popular, annual list of public relations blunders, i.e., what good PR is not; by being called out by Time Magazine as publishing one of the best end-of-year lists, ranking even above the New York Times and NASCAR lists.
In summary, after peering through the looking glass, we project the Fineman PR brand and its “white shirt” approach as artisanal. It is hand crafted, not mass produced; it is defined and meaningful. It is a thoughtful undertaking of fulfilling our clients’ best interests, experiences, attributes and satisfaction time after time. It is Best In Class.