Let’s Talk PR is a monthly segment on This Needs to be Said Radio. I am very excited to be able to share the interviews with the readers of Urban Tymes Magazine.
This month we sit down and talk with Raven Paris Robinson, founder of PR 2 Politics and author of the e-book, Your Campaign: A Business Owner’s Guide to Understanding Public Relations. At a very young age, Raven is taking the political PR Industry by storm! She has successfully planned inaugurations for elected officials, social media campaigns and obtained various press placements for her clients ranging from print news, blogs, radio and popular political shows such as “Inside City Hall”. Raven’s career quickly ascended when she began handling press for a Boston based organization known as the National Dance for Obama. Videos from the brand quickly became viral and received mentions from CNN India, CBS and Fox to name a few.
With this outrageous election year, it’s only right that we talk the Politics of PR.
Keema: How do you determine the type of clients and campaigns that you want to work on?
Raven: I believe that this piece of advice is good for anyone even working outside of public relations or political arena. When working on a project – just say to yourself, is this in line with my morals or what I’m about. For instance, if you don’t believe in smoking then working with a candidate that is working to get smoking back in areas or around schools is in line with your mission.
There are three main things that I look at: platform, budget and can we work together.
Keema: Speaking to point number 2 because this comes up a lot … Often times, people forget that public relations is actually a job. Especially for most of us who don’t work for an agency. No matter what industry you are in, keep in mind that a budget is essential to making your campaign work and allows your publicist to give their best to your brand vision.
There’s be a lot going on with this political year and I’m sure lots of crisis management. In the political arena, you are more likely to deal with crisis management than someone like myself in the beauty industry. If you’ve ever had to implement a crisis management strategy what are some steps that you’ve taken for corrective measures for your client?
Raven: Yes, as you can imagine there is always crisis management implementation and that’s largely because you don’t know what the day to day will be like.
We always have statements prepped and in place, what are our protocols and who are our allies that we’ve partnered with in the past that we can garner support from. That’s why it’s always important before the crisis happens, in any field, that you’re building your resources and partnerships. You don’t want to be that person that doesn’t do anything in the community and when crisis happens you’re pulling a card.
Another thing about politicians is that they are personal people and their brand is who they are -things begin to surface … so the best thing is to be upfront. I had a client who was speaking about being an elected official and he was asked what was the hardest part. And before the interviewer could ask about his past, with arguments, fights and being arrested, he addressed it and said that he had grown and brought up the story to show the people how he had grown from where he was to where he is today. That was good crisis management because before the interviewer could bring it up he had already addressed it and combatted that.
So it was just being upfront. Never try to throw anything out of wraps, always expose your truth and live your truth. Not just saying “This is my truth and it is what it is” but saying “This is my truth and I have moved on”.
Another thing is that you are responsible on the behalf of other people. Don’t just have an apology but also have a solution. Especially in the field of politics, this candidate this person you’re representing, it’s their job to be the solution. It can never just be “Oh we’re sorry” it needs to be “We’re sorry but moving forward we are implementing X, Y and Z.”
It makes you look like a leader and it helps you own up to things. It makes people more confident. Yes, this may be a personal brand that makes mistakes but they handle it.
Keema: For a person who wants to become a political figure what advice would you give them? I think people enter things sometimes not realizing that they will become a public figure. What steps should they take to prepare for their platform?
Raven: First, layout all of your past and then be prepared to speak to how you’ve made improvements. Be transparent with yourself and the executive members of your team.
The second thing you want to do is go back and look at your network and see what your network is. This will be beneficial for fundraising and building partnerships for when you need volunteers and support staff. In politics, your partnerships are very important because these are people who are either going to donate money or volunteer their time. You want people who know your mission and are sharing it within their networks.
Thirdly, know what your platform is. Why are you running? Why are you doing this? If you can’t answer this to yourself, you can’t communicate this to anyone else.
Keema: As a business owner, they want to support a cause but are not sure of how it is going to impact their brand. What advice would you give a business owner who wants to support a candidate or cause and still protect their brand message?
Raven: There are various ways to show support without throwing yourself completely out there. Do your research so that you are fully aware of the candidate, cause or organization. Have a meeting with the team to determine what is needed and make sure it’s a fair barter. Don’t just let them come in and run the show be very clear about what you need from them as well.
Some examples would be placing a sign in your window or allowing the group to hold meetings in your shop instead of paying rent.
It is better to show support for anything you believe in. From a PR standpoint, your customers will know what you support and your customers will know that supporting you will also support your cause. It will show that you are in the community and show that their money is going back into the community.
Keema: If both of the major Presidential candidates came to you and said we want you to run PR for our campaign, who would you choose and why?
Raven: I would choose Hillary Clinton because I feel like a lot her issues are things that I believe in; such as pro-choice and education. And I think it pretty cool for me as a young woman to see another woman fun the free world.
Keema: What advice would you give an aspiring publicist?
Raven: Invest in as many business resources as you can and not just in the PR field. I see a lot of publicists who are really good at social media and interacting with the media but when it comes to other aspects of building their brand or business they kind of struggle in that area and that’s because they understand the industry of public relations but not the business side. Building your business is just as important as building our media list, if not more. Get a business mentor that can you tell you about your accounting and enforcing accountability to meet certain resources.
Don’t be shy. What you don’t know you will learn.
Don’t be afraid to charge what you are worth. If someone were to hire a publicist in-house they would have to pay 50-60k with benefits so don’t allow them to pay you $500 a month. Also, an in-house publicist would like work less hours because they are turning off their computer at the end of the workday.
Follow Raven and connect
All social media: @pr2politics
Keema Bouyer is the founder of The Queen’s English PR (www.queensenglishpr.com ). The Charlotte, NC based agency specializes in branding and public relations for Beauty and Lifestyle Brands and Non-Profit Organizations. Let’s Talk PR airs every 2nd Wednesday at 230pm EST on This Needs to Be Said (www.blogtalkradio.com/thisneedstobesaid).
Follow Keema Bouyer on Social Media
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