Thursday, March 05, 2015

The Public Relations Backgrounder Needs Help

Behind every company officeholder, every product and service, every company and much more are histories, a bunch of facts, images and other intellectual properties.

On taking office every PR manager will look to see where the corporate backgrounder is kept and whether it is up-to-date and will also review how wide the descriptors of corporate assets are.

It is a tedious job. Deciding what needs backgrounders, seeking out the relevant facts, writing the copy and then gaining acceptance and approval of the copy from stakeholders is a long and arduous chore.

It is taught in PR degree courses and touched on in passing. However, in practice these documents are gold dust.

They provide the added collateral for a journalist writing a story; the briefing for the MofC at the Christmas bash and help fill the brief to the brochure designer for the Annual Report. They are used in part and in full and describe the value of the organisation and are an intangible part of the balance sheet.

Such documents are invaluable and a PR must.

Today, there are other versions of such background briefings. They are part of the content in the cloud of information held across thousands of data sets and accessed across the internet.

Few people in Public Relations practice know this and even fewer care.

Such intellectual property is scattered to the four winds of cyberspace and invisible to all bar a few.

Soon, very soon, this will no longer be the case. As the robots of the internet get to work, they assemble these tiny nuggets of information. We see this ourselves. We see the scraps of information that come to us as a by-product of our searches in Google, Yahoo and the like.

The robots are beginning to get clever. Some use semantic indexing to find associations between factlets that build a sense of what an organisation comprises.  Sometimes this is a beautifully complete and rounded picture and sometimes a misaligned and corrupted perspective.

Now, such machinations become the problem of the Public Relations Practitioner. The practitioner needs well established approaches to the nature of human backgrounders. Some work is being done in the area. In respect of the human backgrounder some interesting perspectives are coming forward.

Organisations like and with a noddong acquaintence with we see a different view and perspective of the individual.

It is much harder to recognize the nature of this different form of background information. In the past, a comment or rumour might have a half life. On line the half-life is potentially forever.

The internet also has a place as an extension of the self. It is the vast amount of information from location, to background and to the words we speak and images we see and those beyond in peripheral vision that is obvious to our mobile phones, motor cars,  office and supermarket. They are now an extension of the factlets that can be assembled to reflect self. They are also part of the internet backgrounder of people.

As for people so too for things.

Identifying the range of inputs and the more significant repositories for such information is now of interest. How the digital meme travels the universe is also of interest.

Such interests should now be part of Public Relations research. It will be interesting to see who does it.