Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Public Relations and 'Peanuts'

The New York Times ran a fascinating article on Peanuts in today's print edition. Charles M. Schulz's famous comic strip is an ageless favorite, partly because of what this story discusses: Authenticity.

An excerpt from the story:

"Accuracy and authenticity are hallmarks of the strips, whether they deal with music, sports or medical conditions, Ms. O’Cain, the museum’s curator, said. 'With figure skating, he [Schulz] would carefully study books to make sure the jumps or spins that he had characters portraying, that they were correct,' she said. He would add subtle twists or inside jokes for readers familiar with skating or surfing or shorthand."

Authenticity and credibility are the backbone of public relations. Public relations practitioners in Charlotte, NC and around the globe for that matter should consider for a moment the research and effort that one man put into a comic. Comics tell stories, albeit hand drawn and humorous ones. PR is storytelling as well.

With any good story, it must engage the audience (relevance), contain factual information (authenticity), and be told through a believable person (the PR pro).

Pubic relations should not be an email blast and random direct mailings, or poorly researched media lists and off-target pitches. PR requires attention to detail, an understanding of the messages, knowledge of the audience(s), and an authentic story and storyteller through which the messages are disseminated.

Otherwise, the story will consist of inaccuate characters, a seedy plot and - you guessed it - a sad ending. What kind of story are you telling?

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