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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Positioning and messaging is not an option

Attention PR directors and agencies: positioning and messaging is not an option.

This week a global company asked us to troubleshoot some marketing problems, including its public relations agency's performance. The national agency has received numerous national awards and been named one of the best in its class, but the client is disappointed after working with the agency for six months.

We looked at the agency's recommendations and plan: the "core" program includes all kinds of tactical things like "media outreach" and press tours and press release writing. The fifth option of the "optional" programs was positioning and messaging, after a list of things like awards, product reviews, and speaking circuit.

The client had opted for the core program, and no messaging or story lines or point of views were ever developed. The agency has been pitching nothing, save for a couple of uninteresting product announcements. Who cares? No one.

If you don't have a story -- lessons learned, insights of value to customers, predictions, customer stories, a contrarian perspective of industry trends -- you don't have the ingredients for a public relations program.

You have to be interesting for people to be interested in you.

So don't buy or sell a heap of PR tactics without positioning and ideas that make the company interesting. Idea voids only lead to failure -- and another black eye on what executives think of public relations.

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