For years I was on the pitching end of PR and, while I still do some for my own promotion, I am more often on the receiving end of pitches these days.
It’s probably foolish to suggest there is one right way and one wrong way for a PR person, marketer or business owner to do anything, but I know there are solid ways to get my attention and equally solid ways to convince me you are not really that into me covering your story.
I’ll relate a recent engagement with an internal PR professional as an illustration of what I think is a very good way for businesses to approach the practice media relations. Warning: This is the long-term, thoughtful approach and takes some work.
Before I continue I will admit that the lessons in what follows are PR101 obvious for many, but I’m just here to tell you that experience demonstrates I need to share this.
I wrote a blog post recently on the subject of local search directories. In that post I mentioned about six of these directories by name. The post was pretty generic and all positive. Within a few hours I received an email from Chantelle Karl the Public Relations Manager for Yelp, one of the organizations I mentioned. First PR lesson – track, filter, and engage brand mentions.
Her email simply provided deeper and additional information related to the subject I had covered and showed me where I could find more if I desired. There was no pitch or press release involved. PR Lesson – show that you can be a resource of relevant information.
Yelp is a major player in this growing industry and the information she sent revealed some interesting stuff that I did not know, so I reached out and asked for an interview. Karl wrote back with a contact that was appropriate and we scheduled the interview for the Duct Tape podcast. PR (life) Lesson – be responsive and build relationships
On the day of the interview she confirmed that I had everything I needed and she got out of the way. I can’t tell you how many PR firms still think it’s their job to manage the conversation. Minutes after the interview I received an email with a list of fast facts about Yelp. As a writer, this is exactly the kind of information that I can use to quickly add flavor to the article I was working on. If I want the entire company history I probably know where to find to it, but boiling it down for me into snack sized snippets is a great way to be useful to the journalist. PR Lesson – understand what a journalist really needs and how you can make their life easier.
Today’s post is not an attempt to bash the PR industry, far from it. Thankfully I can recount many stories like the one above, but I could also cite the opposite. Today’s business owner and marketer must employ PR as a major leg of lead generation and these lessons apply no matter what your job title.
Image credit: Waldo Jaquith