B2B PR: The Blurring of Business & Politics
In the age of social media, big data, and CEO activism, public relations best practices are evolving.
Nicole Rodrigues, the founder and CEO of NRPR Group, dropped by the B2B Revealed podcast to discuss B2B PR with Cascade Insights CEO Sean Campbell. Rodrigues has more than 17 years of experience in public relations and social media marketing. She is a member of the Forbes Agency Council and sits on the board of The Organization of American Women In Public Relations.
Rodrigues prefers to emphasize organic audiences, but she acknowledges the growing need to pay for visibility. “I’m not huge on the pay to play stuff because I do truly believe that organic is where it’s at,” she said. “Organic is where you’re getting the honest third-party validation.”
However, formerly free options increasingly come with a price tag. Rodrigues explained that writers for popular sites used to appreciate being alerted to news items by PR folks. These days, they charge for a write-up. “Before it was like, “Great, you have news. Let’s talk.” And now it’s, “Well, but do you have money to sponsor this?”,” Rodrigues lamented. “There are great sites that people are reading …like Huffington Post nowadays. Some of these writers are like, “Yeah, I really love this product but I’m an independent writer so I’m going to charge $500 for it.” Then you have to go back to the client and say that.”
Companies that don’t already command huge audiences should expect to pay for media attention, good search rankings, brand awareness, etc. “It’s a necessary evil nowadays,” said Rodrigues. “It really stinks but it is what it is. If that’s what it takes to build up your reputation, then sometimes you just have to do it.”
Campbell and Rodrigues also discussed the increasing blurring of business and politics. As we are living in an era of CEO activism, it’s becoming more and more difficult to keep politics out of business. But how should company leaders gauge when to speak up and when to stay silent?
Rodrigues advises against simply hopping on the latest viral news item. Instead, company leadership should be guided by their core values and the social practices they’ve actually implemented in their own organizations. She gave this example: “Say you want to share your policies on discrimination and say, “We want everyone to know that we believe in equal pay and equal rights. By the way, 67 percent of the workforce at our company is female and they make the majority of the money.””
Authenticity is key. Are you sharing an opinion on a value you’ve actually put into practice? Or are you just jumping on a trending hashtag? “You can tell surface level and you can tell soul,” Rodrigues said.
Rodrigues urged caution in using the company platform to advocate for social issues that may offend your workforce or clients. “Your company is bigger than you are,” she said. “You have to look at the benefit of the company. If what you’re going to say could possibly have a negative effect on your company, then I say you need to keep your opinions to yourself and remain neutral.”
More PR Pro Tips
Listen to the full episode for more guidance on when and how to weigh in on politics, reputation building, coordinating PR & marketing efforts, and more.
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