In the beginning, there was the pitch. Elevator pitches, reporter pitches, fastballs and curveballs. The definition of a good PR person was based on the impact of their pitch – to journalists who would then write an article based on that pitch’s spin.
Then came the story. As traditional journalism shrank, and citizen journalists rose to take their place, the story became all important. ‘Made to Stick’ was the new mantra helping us find meaning in a series of status updates and tweets, and helping good storytellers stand out from the crowd.
Yet even the ‘story’ lost its glue, as everyone shouts their version of events as loudly as the next person, company or brand. Story alone is no longer driving a connection between organizations and their loyal supporters. Today, we are turning to the next phase. Engagement.
Engagement. In its most traditional sense, it is the connection of two individuals as they decide to combine their separate lives into one.
For two people, engagement is a bond signified by a ring. For a company or organization, it’s a bond signified by a share, a like, a handshake.
It’s a bond that my company will do right by you and you will do right by my company. It’s a willingness to realize that an organization is more than its R&D, HR, AP, EMEA outposts or APAC development center. Engagement is a recognition that people inside and outside the walls of any building have the power to hold that place up, or tear it down.
To engage in a story isn’t just to listen. It’s to listen with intent, to ask questions, to embrace, and make our own. Smart companies aren’t just telling stories anymore. They are engaging their customers to build a new story.
Likewise, we the public don’t want to be just told a good yarn. We want to lift up the causes we hold dear, to help, to build, then share it with others.
Which brings us back to the pitch. As PR people, we’ve always been trained that our job was to convince someone else how to share a good story. Yesterday it was helping a journalist take an idea and make it his or her own, to reach his readers.
Today we continue that approach, but instead of just getting journalists to share a good story, we’re also reaching anyone that can engage, which today, is truly, well, anyone.
Engagement is the new word, but it’s something we’ve been practicing since the beginning.
We’re proud to be engaging always.