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What happened to relationships in public relations?

The process for pitching a client’s product or service offering used to look like this:

  • PR professionals would scour editorial calendars and then actually read each possibly relevant publication.
  • PR professionals would then familiarize themselves with each editor they might pitch, including recent articles.
  • Then, and only then, would a PR person pick up the phone. The point of this exercise was to build a relationship with the relevant editor regarding their client’s product or service offering.

The goal of this process was to position your client as the number one subject matter expert for an editor. Public relations was about trust. Relationships. Results usually followed.

Today the process is has (sadly) become about speed, numbers. Many PR professionals have placed their focus on hitting as many media outlets as possible to get their message out using high-tech spamming tools offered by MediaMap and other PR services. In the defense of PR professionals, I know these tactics work with many trade publications, but they aren’t resonating with bloggers.

In my observation, there are a few things PR professionals are doing as a rule in pitching these days:

  • Sending press releases- they are available on the wire.
  • Sending a scripted pitch, not specific to the publication/blog, which is obvious to the recipient.
  • Sending pitches that demonstrate a lack of familiarity with either the blog/publication, the editor or both.

Todd Defran of PR Squared addresses this issue in a recent post “Bloggers: Be Proactive in Educating PR Pros.” The rules, PR gang, are really simple:

  • Be brief.
  • Demonstrate in your pitch that you have read the blog before.
  • Look to see if the blogger accepts PR pitches, and if they do, do they have specific rules and/or requests for the pitches they receive? If you follow those, your chances of being picked up will increase greatly.

Easy, right?

There are a few rules Todd doesn’t cover, that I also think carry great importance.

  • Link everything. Bloggers print everything on the Internet at lightning speed, and your news has a better chance of being picked up if you can provide them with a link. This means you have to have your links ready to go in your press room.
  • Be transparent. Bloggers can read through all of your PR spin BS. So don’t have any.
  • Be available to the Blogger.

While we don’t pick up the phone and call editors as much these days, I do believe bloggers are asking us to take steps back and focus on relationships again. If the news is relevant, a Blogger will print it. If it’s not, they won’t. Read their news, focus on relevancy and keep your focus on being the subject matter expert just like you did in the “old days” and you’ll have results.

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