If there’s one lesson I learned during my trip to New Orleans last week, it was this: do not wear pants to Louisiana in June. Saying it was hot would be an understatement.
But if there’s another lesson to be learned from my time in the Big Easy, it’s that we are standing on the precipice of the future of public relations; a fundamental shift in how we will spend our budgets and manpower. Soon, our profession will rely more on the creation of our own content for consumption than it will pitching an interview to a reporter, crossing our fingers, and praying for the best result. (We see an example of this on Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference video page.)
It was for this reason alone that I hopped on a plane to spend some time with Microsoft’s newest IT Investigation unit: Point & Click.
Recently, we’ve been able to leverage a fantastic relationship with the New Orleans Hornets of the National Basketball Association due to their creative work in the IT space with Microsoft’s customer relationship management software, Dynamics CRM. Since the guys were already in New Orleans for TechEd, we figured we would be remiss if we didn’t at least ask the Hornets if we could shoot some video with their team to discuss how they’re using the CRM technology. As we’ve come to find out, the team was more than willing to accommodate our request, even going so far as to give us access to the Hornets’ team locker room for the shoot. (Lesson #3: Before you discount an idea, ask. You’d be surprised how willing people are to help.)
Now, learning that Chris Paul has three lockers to himself aside, the coolest part of the trip was digging in and gaining a working understanding of how this tactic is going to change the way we work in PR. As I mentioned above, traditional PR has, for so long, relied on pitching stories to reporters, knowing full well that it’s ultimately not up to us how the story will turn out. But what if we’re now able to control the entire message, and distribute that message on our branded sites, in exactly the way we want it to look? It certainly makes us more valuable to our stakeholders, does it not?
We are never going to stop doing PR in the traditional sense, of course. But as newsrooms shrink and our budgets get tighter, ultimately, it’s up to us to decide how to get the best bang for our buck. And whether it’s through pitching reporters our stories, or creating videocasts and podcasts that tell the same story, well, that’s up to you. But if it means spending half a day in an NBA locker room? Well, that’s one initiative I can support.
(Disclosure: Microsoft is an Airfoil client.)
-- Brad Marley