Q&A with Dr. Karen Freberg

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Doesn’t INTEGRATE 2014 seem like yesterday? For me, one of the highlights of INTEGRATE was meeting Dr. Karen Freberg in person before PR Concepts & Strategy began in summer session. It marked the first time I’d met an IMC instructor before beginning class. Dr. Freberg is so friendly! If you haven’t met her, learn about her background here.

Continuing with the Q&A’s (read my interview with Dr. Larry Stultz), I thought I’d reach out to Dr. Freberg to get her input on Uber’s recent PR problems, what she considers the top three PR strategies, and what not to do in a press release.

Q: What role does public relations play in today’s IMC mix?

A: PR plays a huge role in today’s IMC mix. It’s a profession that continues to evolve along with the changes we are seeing in society with the technology advances, changes in consumer attitudes and expectations, as well as helping to address crisis situations.

In addition, we see PR play a stronger role in investing in the relationships between not only brands and their audiences, but with fellow professionals. PR is all about the human-to-human interaction as Brian Kramer has stated and it also focuses on the importance of storytelling and return on relationships within the community.

Q: Are there any campaigns – past or present – that you believe should receive more recognition?

A: This is a great question – there are so many to choose from!

I’d say that there are a few campaigns that have really struck out to me include the following: Chipotle and the Scarecrow Campaign, ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke Campaign, Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign, WestJet’s Christmas Campaign, and Starbucks and Tweet-A-Coffee.

All of these campaigns have unique qualities, effective brand storytelling elements, and were able to connect with their audiences with emotion, action, and build a stronger relationship with their community.

uber

How should Uber handle its recent PR disaster?

Q: How do you think the recent anti-journalist PR disaster will affect Uber moving forward?

A: I think this is an interesting case because Uber is a company that is either viewed very positively or very negatively – so it’s a polarizing brand right now because of their actions.

I do think that they are facing challenges right now with this particular issue and they need to adapt not only their PR actions and practices, but it really does come down to the internal corporate culture and leadership to really make the changes necessary. Time will tell to see if they address these concerns.

Q: What are the top three PR strategies?

A: Education is always a good measure, especially if you are looking at new technologies or creating awareness about a new initiative or product.

Another one that is good to do is engage with audiences through storytelling principles through content creation and curation measures.

Lastly, driving effective partnerships with credible third party endorsers, influencers, and opinion leaders is another one we see to be effective. However, PR strategies are the most effective if they are tailored for the company and audience in question – it’s all about connecting the dots.

Q: When writing press releases, what do we not want to do?

A: There are a lot of things not to do in a press release. Forgetting who you are targeting, making spelling and grammar mistakes, just using the press release to promote yourself, using jargon that is not familiar with your audience, and not including all of the added multimedia/social media content expected for press releases now.

Thanks to Dr. Freberg for answering my questions!

-R

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