Today, we visited FUGU PR, a boutique PR firm that caters to a range of clients from Doc Martens to TEDx Brighton to the Patient Safety Congress which garnered press in the BBC and Daily Mail. FUGU PR's owner, Vicki Hughes, has over 20 years of PR experience and has seen the industry evolve drastically. From Vickie's vast experience and wisdom, she shared the one aspect of PR that has not changed is the practitioner's ability to tell a story.
PR is about content. The goal is to develop interesting content that is relevant for the client. Interesting content lends well to getting the publics of Vicki's clients focused on an issue, product or service. A compelling narrative (i.e., story) leads to a change in attitude and/or behavior. People are interested in stories which capture the minds, hearts and ultimately brand loyalty of the consumer. Although the client may have a compelling story, the PR agency must carry the story above the din of other "great" stories. This is done by meeting publics where they are and meeting them there often.
Vicki mentioned the rule of seven touches by Dr. Jeffrey Lant which states that "to penetrate the buyer’s consciousness and make significant penetration in a given market, you have to touch the prospect a minimum of seven times within an 18-month period." Each touch is an opportunity to establish, build and manage the relationship between the clients and its publics. FUGU PR manages the public relations aspects of her clients relationships with their publics. Compelling narratives created by Vicki's team and engaging relationships through multiple touches lead to the establishment of a reputation.
A reputation is what an organization does, what it says and what others say about the organization. As an analogy, pretend you're at a bar. John begins talking to you saying he's kind, polite and has a great sense of humor. How you feel about that? It may seem self-serving on John's part. Now, Derek walks up to you and tells you John visited his grandmother for an afternoon because she was lonely. At the end of the visit, Derek's grandmother was smiling, laughing and could not stop talking about the great time she had with John. Now, how do you feel about John? John's words seem to have more credibility after hearing from Derek. That's the essence of PR and analogous to what Vicki's firm does for its clients.