Public Relations

Panel Discussions: TMI?

The last two years have been an eye opener on PR for a lot of professionals in the brand and marketing world which includes PR. While marketing teams realized the credibility and depth that PR can bring to the conversations, PR teams across the country realized the power that lay in their hands that could effectively showcase the gravity of a situation with nuance while protecting and sometimes building a reputation. Powerful stuff, right? While we traveled this path which was new for some and an incredible revelation for others, industry professionals came together as a community and helped each other upskill along the way. PRPOI has been at the forefront of it.

Now while most of this knowledge share is voluntarily and pro bono where speakers have an eye on the bigger prize – development of the overall community skillset, it makes me wonder how much of a share is too much, irrespective of the industry. We do recommend clients to take up pro bono panel discussions as a reputation building tool. Most would brief them about what to share but how often do you brief them about how much to share?  Here is a list of seven that you can start with to draw a balance:

  • Balance: Share enough to be able to pique the curiosity of the audience without letting go of your trade secret. In PR there is no size that fits all. Every challenge faced by any industry will require customization. While you give them ground rules to start with, always end the share by giving them guidelines on the direction they should be thinking in and encourage them to think on the account.
  • Humanize: An audience connects when you bring the point illustrated with a personal example or a very real example that they can relate to. It not only brings the point home but brings it alive for them.
  • Confidentiality: Go over the list of names and incidents you can mention and cannot mention in a public / closed door forum. Both are essential.
  • Make it Real: What you do share make sure it is of value to the audience and not stuff parroted off google. Insights relevant to the audience will have them wanting more.
  • Encourage Dialogue:  Take in questions from across the cross section of audience you are addressing. Encourage a conversation that debates a point put forward. You will be surprised at the insights that come out of it.
  • Follow Up: A panel has a limited duration set aside for a conversation. You can take the opportunity to encourage an audience to continue the conversation on social media.
  • Selective Participation: Chalk out a set number and platforms you want to be seen in. Overexposure is a very real thing. Too much visibility is as bad as too little. When you weigh that against the time you spend on each then you realize what you are trading your time for. Be selective about how and why you want to spend your time on a panel.

What else would you add to this list of ground rules for panelists?

Tarunjeet Rattan,

Founder – PRPOI

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