Sunday, August 2, 2009

A GREAT recipe for going out of business "10 Rules for Quick and Easy PR”

A Web site is making its rounds on Twitter, "10 Rules for Quick and Easy PR” I love public relations advice but I really question the background of the person writing this; and that was before I looked it up. I won’t even mention the person. Let’s just say I believe their advice is misguided. There’s no bottom line strategic planning involved.

I don’t want to get into an Internet grudge match similar to one I was in with another Internet PR guru who speaks daily and thinks he knows everything about PR. I’m just doing this to educate those who practice marketing communications.

It appears to be nothing more than paper mill advice. “A good public relations strategy is an alternative to advertising." That’s why I am a Marketing Sociologist and not public relations practitioner.

Every lame public relations practitioner advises press releases. They don’t know any better. Ask them the RACE formula and they’ll look at you dumb founded. Ask them the 4Ps of marketing – zip. Ask if they’ve defined their various publics – huh?

You get advice like this, “Prepare your press release to be printed as is. Start your release with a great headline and make sure it also follows AP style guides so a journalist can (if they so choose) cut and paste your copy for their story needs.”

That’s why newspapers are dying – lack of professionalism. When I started in journalism, I would have been fired for using a press release; let alone slap my byline on it. Yet every publication seems to do that today – and you see the results – downhill spirals.

I loved these type of PR practitioners when I was on major newspapers. We called them round-file fillers. They built a reputation that anything they did would never get used. If they called in with a murder, we were “on assignment.”

“Sell your release. Make a phone call to the person named in the media guide. Let them know you have a story that may interest them and their readers. Give them the headline and the first paragraph. They’ll make a decision then and there whether they like it or not. A “yes” or “maybe” means “send me a fax or email with more information.” Then, forward immediately marked clearly to their attention. Earn the right to follow up by asking if you can call back the next day or at some other specific time, depending on publication dates.”

This is the biggest no-no of every PR practitioner, yet all the agencies with the 20-year old blonds follow it. My answer was if you could call me back, “No, I think I’ll be dead by that time” (under my breath, “I’ll put a bullet to my head if I hear from you again.”).

How about this – establish a relationship with journalists. Be a former journalist, not a bleach blond, who has spent 20 or 30 years in their shoes. There are more than (not over) 2,000 unemployed journalists in the Four Corner states right now. Yet employers hire people like the person who wrote this article.

“Follow up. Call your contact when you said you would to confirm whether or not they received the information you sent and offer to provide more information if necessary.” Corner and annoy is another way of saying this.

“Keep in contact. But don’t be pushy (you already have been following the advice above). If the story is of value, it will sell itself. All you should do is provide your contact with the convenience of more information. This is also a good way to make sure your press release gets a second look.”

Okay, a good way to make sure your material gets used is forget “selling it,” A journalist’s job is to inform the public. How can your material do that? Not how can you get a bigger fee from your client for annoying press releases.

I’ve resigned clients who wanted me to do what is recommended in this article. My line? You’re my client, but journalists are my customers.

The scary part is, this article is creating Internet buzz while practitioners overlook the solid advice in Questions to ask any public relations practitioner before using their advice

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