Managing communications for a Fortune 100 company with operations in 30 countries certainly keeps the Global Communications Department at Prudential busy. And Bob leads the team.
However, it’s Bob’s experience as a former newspaper reporter that led him to the discovery of several important trends in public relations.
“We’re finding the media does not have the ability anymore to cover us in the kind of robust and in-depth way we believe our company should be covered,” Bob says. “From our local newspaper to The Wall Street Journal, all have experienced seismic shifts in their ability to cover our company—whether it’s the products we sell or the communities we reach.”
Bob and his staff also note another interesting trend in their media relations reporting.” More and more of the news we produce through news releases are generating clickable hits on sites like Yahoo and others,” Bob notes.
“It began to occur to us that we were reaching a lot of people directly, not through the media. As a result, we thought we could do a better job going directly to our stakeholders as well as the media—and that was the impetus for our online newsroom.”
Bob and his staff discovered what many in the corporate communications field have predicted for some time. “While our newsroom is set up to reach the media —and it does— it’s also our corporate online newspaper for our various constituencies,” Bob says. “Therefore, we’re writing and distributing our content in such a way that we expect people other than the media to come in and learn about the company. That’s why our newsroom has feature stories with content set up in departments —much like you would find in an online newspaper.”
As a result, Bob has increased his reliance on web analytics to demonstrate the value of distributed corporate content. “What we really like about the online newsroom are the metrics —monitoring is very helpful to us,” Bob says. “We look very closely to the pull part of the site —who is linking to our content. We’re delighted to know that the other sites link to our newsroom site. This is a huge success for our communication program.”
Bob is bullish on the future of online corporate communications and the spread of social media. “Five years from now all corporate communication will be interactive,” predicts Bob. “When companies talk to their stakeholders, that audience is going to have the ability to respond back immediately, ask questions, and get more information as a result of that dialogue.”
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Bob DeFillippo is the Chief Communications Officer for Prudential Financial, Inc. Prior to joining Prudential in January 1994, DeFillippo served as Director of Public Affairs for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the largest membership organization in the country, where he was in charge of media relations, speechwriting, advocacy advertising, and community outreach. Prior to that, he served as press secretary for the Hon. Hamilton Fish Jr., U.S. House of Representatives, following a 10-year career as an award-winning reporter and editor for Gannett and other newspapers.