Every Campaign Starts (and Ends) with People By @JoeCortez

The last time I saw my good friend Chavo, we were on his back deck debating the problems of the world over chilled bourbon. The topic of particular interest that day was public relations, and why good content worked.

As a controller and fiscal officer with over 20 years experience, Chavo had a hard time placing value to public relations. More importantly, he had a hard time understanding why it creates value in the first place. In America’s 24-hour news cycle, everyone wants to use a journalist to sell you something – why does the end viewer care?

My personal path to marketing wound straight through journalism – print, radio, television and ultimately online. Through that experience, I learned about the storytelling process, and how to identify a concept with a reader, listener, or viewer. Creating strong positions, verified by facts and multiple opinions, held the attention of the end media consumer. This, in turn, continued to attract them to the medium.

One of the greatest lessons I’d ever learned came from master storyteller Al Tompkins. After an all-day journalism seminar, he left us with a precept that has followed me my entire life: “Good stories are not told about products, situations, or even events. At the core of every story are people. People tell stories. People drive stories. And those people are at the resolution of every story.”

From a marketing and public relations perspective, the idea really hasn’t changed: regardless of my product, I’m still working to create value and ultimately identify the concept with the consumer – a person, who is looking for a value-based solution. The most effective way I’ve found to do that is through the storytelling process. Good public relations isn’t so much about selling, but instead about being a resource in order to tell a story about how a product, service, or idea can benefit a person’s life.

Regardless of purpose, people are always the focal point of good content and public relations. Nobody cares if a new product has a fancy dongle attached to it, or that it sold 500 million units in the first six months. We care because of how the dongle benefits a person’s life. We’re interested on how the first 500 million units were used by people, and the mutations that resulted from their use.

It’s difficult to put an exact dollar figure on every reader, listener, or viewer in your campaign. There’s no magic set of analytics that come from traditional media placements. But in every media campaign, good PR is the cornerstone of creating a long lasting, high value customer. Advertising will make people aware of a brand. Public relations give credibility in the marketplace, and keep people coming back to your brand.

By the end of our conversation, Chavo still wasn’t completely convinced by my arguments. But he did respect that well placed content, directed around people, and verified by another party, does hold value – even if he couldn’t trace the money behind it. He also appreciated that there was at least another bottle of his favorite brand of bourbon left, and how his preferences were in no way swayed by good content, media placement, and public relations.

Or so he claims.

About the Author

Joe Cortez is the Content Manager for a digital marketing agency over on the other side of the Atlantic. In his spare time, he can be found wandering the world, with little intention of settling down. Follow Joe’s adventures on Twitter at @JoeCortez