Eye On PR  

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MAYO kicks off Year 2001 with a new feature  on its website "Eye On PR" Everything from tricks of the trade to getting on the radar of high-tech editors and industry analysts to making your company newsworthy. Nationally recognized and award-winning writer George S. McQuade III reports on the PR industry. 

April 16, 2001

Strategic Navigation Tools: Surviving and Thriving in the Open Ocean

By George S. Mc Quade III

Kathleen Buczko, APR  NMC Partners, Long Beach, CA

 “A guy in his boxer’s, in his back bedroom, can be as powerful as any activist regulator for the media,” said Kathleen Buczko, APR, NMC Partners, Long Beach, CA  Buczko, a nationally, known speaker, outlined 10 steps  to “:Make Strategic Public Relations A Reality” for communicators at the IABC, LA Chapter, dinner in West Hollywood, CA, March 14, 2001.


“Communications are not random and unpredictable,” explained Buczko. “If you take measured, small steps, you end up with a comprehensive approach to key constituents. If you don’t spend time with real market research, getting close to your customers, you don’t have the data or rhetoric that the senior executive speaks in, so when they want to change the course you can’t explain the risks.”


Buczko is the founder and president of NMC Partners, a high tech PR firm in Southern California. In her 15-year career, she has been Director of Pubic Relations at Epson America, Inc., Managing Supervisor at manning, Selvage & Lee in Los Angeles, and president of her own start-up agency, Mead & Associates in Detroit, Michigan. Buczko

Has developed a planning tool “Predictive mapping,” which uses a variety of marketing research techniques to benchmark a client’s operating environment, craft messages, plan strategic communications programs and evaluate results.

Beyond the 90 day cycle – 
“ accommodating change” leads to stress fractures


“Predictive Mapping incorporates research capabilities, as well as the ability of a communicator to move into that more strategic position, the one that is really the key communications officer for the whole organization “ said Buczko. “Moving beyond the 90 day cycle, a period most people in the Internet or technology business are familiar with, is critical, and you do it by taking 10 steps to make strategic public relations and communications within your organization a reality.”

Kathleen Buczko, APR, NMC Partners, 
Long Beach, CA


90-day cycle definition

90-day cycle is when “a company is locked into a situation every day, where it is reporting to someone, whether it is a shareholder, or a constituency. The company is always looking at what they have to do just to get through those 90 days. Who do they need to talk to, and what would make that 90-day window effective and important.”


The challenge says Buczko is the communications and the marketing functions then can become driven by real time, short-term objectives. “You end up with an organization that primarily has no articulated vision, yet under financial constraints. What you know about the organization, its brand or its vision is almost purely driven by the bottom line.”

                                                        Kathleen Buczko, APR
10 Steps to Reality                                

Define your role in the ocean.

Define the long-term vision. Why PR? Become the Chief Communicating Officer. Look at the stress factors within the organization. Put complexities in perspective

Build a cross-functional team

Relationships are critical for support. See the “school,” and know who will get the work done.


Define your relevant elements

Target your audiences. Who will make or break your organization? Target your message.

What makes them tick? Who do they listen to? Beware of big fish syndrome.


Know your environment
Where are the toxins? Where are the food sources?  Swim with the fish, and understand your organization’s long-term strategy.


Build infrastructure for evaluation
Benchmark critical data. Analyze what the competition is doing and saying to see what organizations are influencing the data.  Know your activists, regulators and sharks, show

Short term gains. Companies understand competition, but not long term visions.


Unlock the organization’s resident knowledge


Become the expert resource for your organization


Listen to the company’s articulated goals

Poke at them with a stick

Beware of the implied goals

Align short-term opportunities with long-term strategy

Where do you want to go? Where do you want to end up?

Call it desired results; call it your predictive map


Define the story platform
The foundation of all communications must be credible and put it in writing, it’s the resource guide.

Team Plan and Execute
Build cohesiveness, avoid murky water, and lead the project. Monitor and anticipate changes. Do media analysis, employee audits, Internet monitoring, and measure customer/constituencies perceptions. Tie your evaluation to the return on investment – your career, your company – reaching goals.

  Kathleen Buczko, APR

“For all of us who have just experienced the transition from that Bull market to the Bear market, that it doesn’t enable a company to have enough reputation or elasticity to that brand, to really sustain changes or distort disbeliefs of shareholders. The terrifying prospect is that the annual planning function for communications and marketing comes down to refining your budget, making sure you can squeeze the last dollar to give something, but you’re not really sure what it is, because you’re not allow to put forth a strategic vision beyond those 90 days. You want to be flexible, reactive. The problem is communications and marketing are part of a process developed over time.”


One of the companies that has lost site of its vision says Buczko is Hewlett Packard. “It is a long-standing, highly reputable organization. They are trading today at $21 a share. HP has lost sight of one of its core visions. And the way it is being articulated is a difficult proposition for the communications group today. They are locked into reactions to what that share price is at that moment. Unfortunately the ability to communicate that longer term vision is being obscured by short term reactivity of the short term cycle.”


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