great article on publicity and media relations:
How to be a good PR person – or PR client
Know what we write about. If there’s one message I can impart to public relations, that’s it. That’s exactly the same information I would have given 10 or 20 years ago, and even 30 years ago if “The Loker Elementary 6th Grade Newsletter” got pitched. (“New Swingset is Bleeding Edge of Back-And-Forth Tech!”) At a public relations summit in New York City Wednesday, I was on a panel of people talking to the Publicity Club of New York (Twitter: #pcny). There were panelists there from the Gothamist, Patch, the New York Times and the NBC locals. It was a pretty good mix of new and traditional media. And we all wanted the same thing from PR: signal, not noise.
Yeah, you’ve heard this spiel before. That’s why it’s partly worth writing about. In 2010 there are so many better ways to get publicity than in a boring old newspaper or in a five-second mention on a local TV newscast. Now any company can be a media company. What’s more valuable — a half a column inch that mentions your client or a whole website and social community around its brand?
The internet is the greatest marketing tool ever. So why are so many PR people treating it like old mass media? I worked, ever so briefly, in PR and have a guess: the clients want ink. “Give me ink. That way, I can pass it around the company, show the boss, and look good. Everyone understands getting mentioned in an article. What does the CEO care if I’ve built a social network and have people tweeting our brand?”
Chances are, the CEO doesn’t care a bit.
In fact, the CEO probably wants one thing from his PR agency: get him on TV.
That’s a real shame, too, because a smart CEO (or GM or News Director) should care a whole hell of a lot more about their reputation online. It’s not about the Large Numbers anymore; it’s about the influence. Yes, you’ve heard this one before – the importance of influence. I want Lost Remote mentioned on blogs that journalists read. I want our articles tweeted and shared on Facebook. It’s nice to be mentioned in the Boston Globe or New York Times, but what really builds our reputation is when our colleagues write about us. We don’t get hundreds of thousands of pageviews a day around here, but every one we get is from someone interested in the media. And those people influence their colleagues.
Still, you can imagine, the most popular people at the seminar were the NBC and New York Times people. That’s fine – the three or four pitches I got were really relevant to LR.
Why does PR treat the whole “how do we get publicity” thing like there’s a magic bullet? It’s simple: you treat it the way you treat yourself online. You build a following and hope it builds into a decent number of cool people. You answer questions people have about you. You respond to tweets and comments. You put out ideas and see if they stick.
If you have an interesting idea, I don’t care if you’re a company or a person. I will read it, write about it and share it. Just don’t tell me it’s “exciting” and don’t insist on an embargo. I love breaking one-way embargoes. And, for God’s sake, write in English. What is this creeping “business-speak” that invades our language now? We write and talk like ’90s MBAs. Knock it off. Think inside the box.
So, yes, know what we write about before pitching us. But, I suggest, it’s more important you write about the company or product yourself. You have to be authentic – and that makes companies nervous – but when done right it can have much more impact than, as Jake Dobin, Gothamist’s publisher and panelist rightly put it, “Spraying and praying.”