Posts Tagged ‘public relations’

The problem:

Honestly, NO ONE in the world could be a more HORRID PR practitioner than Lois Whitman-Hess.   You didn’t hear about her?  Click here, or here.  This is a woman who thinks that just because a reporter is attending a tradeshow, they HAVE to meet with her client.  This is a woman who CALLS 45 reporters at the Wall Street Journal in ONE day.  This is a woman who spams journalists like it’s cool.  This is the kind of PR practitioner that makes bloggers think “PR” is a bad word.

WE GET IT.  There are some REALLY HORRIBLE public relations practitioners out there.

The solution:

Bloggers- I want to ask you a HUGE favor for 2009. HUGE.  I want to see one of you- one of you with the respect of the entire PR industry start a new blog or weekly column.  It will be called: The PHENOMENAL PITCH BLOG or something similar.  In this blog/column, you will call out the most outstanding PR pitches you have heard and call out the individuals who pitched.  This will be the anti-blacklist.  (The White-list.  Generic.  You get the idea.)

The philosophy:

I don’t think people learn from rants.  (Ironic since I am writing one.)  I think people learn best from shining examples of good.  In 2008, we’ve suffered through the economy, and if there is one thing that social media has taught me, it’s that (most of the time) positivity rises to the top while negativity sinks, ignored.   Maybe if we have a list of GREAT PR folks, people will strive to MAKE the list.  Let’s give PR people something to strive toward, not a list of avoid.

What now?

I’m one person.  A PR person, a blogger.  If you agree, if you want to see the PHENOMENAL PITCH BLOG come to life… forward this blog.  Who will do it for us?  For the WHOLE public relations industry?

I would be forever grateful.


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“There is no such thing as off the record.”

If you’ve ever worked with a PR person, sat near a PR person or know someone who knows a PR person, you’ve heard this message loud and clear.  Yet, throughout my career, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people utter the phrase, “This is off the record, but…”


So I was not at all surprised today to find out that approximately 10% of college admissions officers consider social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace when considering who makes the collegiate cut.  Check out the msnbc video that addresses the subject: Here.

Most adults participating in social networking communities probably won’t find it surprising that while a page from a social network won’t get you into college, its content could be a deciding factor in your rejection from the school of your choice.  Adults deal with this all the time when applying to jobs.  Most adults have learned to put their most professional face forward, leaving fun/inappropriate sites anonymous.

Shockingly, as savvy as most high school students are, many don’t know the repercussions their online lives can have on their real life.  Last month I spoke to a few High School classes.  I asked them two key questions:

  • Is there anything on your Facebook or Myspace page you wouldn’t want your parents/teachers to see?
  • Do you think that content could effect you in the future,  professionally or personally?

Nearly all of the students had something on their social networking pages they didn’t want seen, and none had thought through the repercussions of that content. 

I believe that part of our responsibility as members of social media communities is to educate the youth about how to use social media… and what content should be “off the record” and never posted.

Off the top of my head, important items for high school seniors to have on their social networking sites include:

  • Honors clubs and educational activities
  • Sports of interest
  • Listing of jobs, if applicable
  • Volunteer activities
  • Clean/appropriate photos with friends participating in educational/family/sports related activities
  • A blog, if well written, spell checked and grammar checked, focused on an application-safe passion.

High School seniors should be careful of the following social networking site mistakes:

  • Spelling errors
  • Inappropriate photos
  • Content demonstrating a passion for partying
  • Speaking negatively about anyone
  • Inappropriate comments from friends
  • Sending inappropriate comments to their friends

The way I see it, social networks are quickly becoming the “non-application.”  Whether we as a society like it or not, we have a responsibility to put our best face forward on our pages.  If you post it, expect it will be read.

And remember: There is no such thing- anywhere- as off the record.

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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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