I'm Jeremy Woolf. I run a consulting firm. My background is in public relations and communications. I've spent the past 26 years in public relations, looking more broadly at communications techniques beyond media relations in social, digital, influencer relations, and so on. I've done that through working for PR agencies, mainly with technology firms like IBM, Sysco, Xerox, Microsoft. More recently, as I've said, I've started my own firm, and I've got a couple of clients I'm supporting today.
I have a simple approach to communications planning and thinking. It really comes down to three questions: What do you want to say? Who do you want to say it to? What do you want them to do with that information? I apply that, at its most basic level, to almost any communications challenge I have, because often people say ... Years ago, I had someone say, "I need a Facebook page." You would say, "Well, why?" They would say, "Well, because my competitor has one." That wasn't a good reason. That wasn't a valid reason to go down that path. They'd actually forgotten to ask themselves those questions.
From my point of view, I start with that basic level of consultancy, then look at things like research-based planning. You try to establish what's different in the market about the brand, the product, or the service. Develop a strategy based on whatever insight you derive from research, and then look at the tactics that will support that strategy, and then the measures that show those tactics are actually working.
That's the core process that I apply to communications. I'll give you one example. I had a financial services company that I worked with for several years, and they had a challenge. Their challenge was they have many partners throughout the United States and around the world that use traditional marketing techniques, so it was media relations, it was ad buys, and so on. But they were struggling in social, because they knew social, in particular LinkedIn and Twitter, were important channels for their audiences, but their time-poor partners were busy doing accounting services and audit services and so on. They didn't have time.
They came to me and my agency, and said, "Well, okay. What are we going to do to improve this?" We developed, using those three steps, a response. Built a strategy, partnered with a software vendor who built us a communications platform, and then we built very good content, because we're really trying to solve two problems. One is the executives don't have the time, and they don't know what to say. So we're building a content platform, we created lots of social content for them, and then trained them how to use the apps, so they could actually push it out to audiences.
It was a great way to get them engaged. By the end of the program, we had around 6,000 people using the app on a regular basis. About a quarter of them said that they had had feedback directly from clients, from prospects, and also had business leads directly attributed to the program. It was a great way, using that three-step approach, to figure out the problem, look at the appropriate strategic solution, and then develop the appropriate response, and then, obviously, manage that process.
I would say at the very beginning. Again, I mean, there are new companies starting all the time. I think, if you define PR ... Let's go back one step. If you define PR as simply "media relations," then you're missing what public relations is actually about. I mean, PR as a discipline is a strategic communications discipline. It's designed to build strong relationships between organizations and the publics that they serve.
If you start from that mindset, if you're a small company ... Let's say you're a startup with a really good idea, working out of a WeWork, and you want funding. Okay, you've got a public that you want to reach. That public might be venture capitalists. You need to talk to a PR agency about how to construct a message that's appropriate. What are the appropriate techniques to reach that audience? Then, how can we measure our ability to do that?
Don't just jump in and say, "I need a media relations program." Because quite frankly, you probably don't need a media relations program at that stage. As the company grows, you start to broaden your audiences you want to reach, and then broaden your communications techniques accordingly.
It's funny, because it's hard to generalize across my discipline, which is now, again, it's paid, owned, earned, and social, so it's covering a whole bunch of different techniques. For B2B, typically, it's a longer sale. It's an 18-month sale ... This is technology, which is the background I have.