End the Creativity Intoxication of PR

It’s a modern myth in the communications industry that being loud and exceptional is the (only) way to get attention for your messages. That this is a myth is true for all pillars of communications, I believe — but especially for PR.

“Loud” and “exceptional” might lead to some reach.
But reach alone is worth exactly nothing.

The main difference between self-referencing douche bag work and efficient communications is still relevance. What means relevance for those with whom I want to talk or to whom I want to sell something. Yes, this might sound a bit trivial. But I see a lot of signs lately that it might be forgotten by too many. Don’t forget: the most important part of public relations — the discipline of my industry I really love — is “relations”. Not “public”.

Looking at what is going on in PR the last couple of months I feel they are replicating the ugly mistakes from the early days of “viral marketing”. This is surprising, especially PR should know better, shouldn’t it? Back then there have been lots of really beautiful, impressive, well-executed videos and games, that indeed went viral — but at the same time didn’t do anything for the brand. I bet no one outside my bubble has the slightest idea who was behind the back then famous Moorhuhn (“crazy chicken”) game.

Just recently I had a chat with someone about insights and why human insights are so important for my work, why I need human insights to come up with strategic and relevant platforms for PR communications. His reaction was shocking to me: “Well, isn’t insights a bit too conservative, Wolfgang?”

Marc Pritchard, Global Brand Building Officer of P&G, came up with a wonderful definition of insights. I totally and 100% agree and made this idea the foundation of most of my work a long time ago already. He says, an insight is

a basic emotional truth that is so intuitive to human nature that it feels like you are recognizing something you already knew all along.

I will never go back from here.

Real PR is skilled exactly for this: for changing perspective from the sender to the audience. Maybe not everything I will come up with if I start with such an insight will be award-winning spectacular. But it will be effectual, efficient and — more than the other — relevant. It will help me to build sustainable relationships. It will be public relations.

Call me conservative, damn it. It’s ok.

(this is an English version of my (German) op-ed piece in Werben & Verkaufen of today, find it here.)