Rodney Gedda's piece of the Web

Funny the way PR works


It’s good to know I’m not completely alone in this world.

Take, for example, my (probably futile) efforts to communicate the dos and don’ts of media relations. It just so happens that many of my journalistic peers are on a nearby wavelength when it comes to their experiences with the darker side of publicity.

Here are some quotable quotes that should at least have you either learning a lot or chuckling a little depending on your experience…

I get bugger all response to requests generally, and when I do, most of them are “I know you asked xyz but will abc also fit into your story?”

It’s just so they can bill their clients by the word.

I ask them ONLY to contact me by email, and not call. Most of them inevitably call me! The reason I ask for email contact is that the signal to noise ratio is very high. No matter how specific you are (eg “I am NOT interested in enterprise solutions; this is article relates ONLY to consumers”) you end up getting a bunch of wallies pitching their $6,495 enterprise TCP/IP WAN packet compression solution or offering exclusive interviews with their visiting banking customer relationship management specialist.

I tend to explain it by assuming that most PR people are like other marketing types — that one reason some are in the field is because, often, they’re not good with detail. And it takes a lot of unbillable minutes to figure out exactly what somebody wants before wasting their time sending a whole lot of guff that are ‘productive’ because they can charge their clients for doing it. So you could say the processes they follow don’t exactly encourage them to be careful that way.

The bigger problem is that some PRs treat the deadline you show as the date you’d like to hear from them! This applies to large and small agencies.

The problem is that the general standard of PR in Australia is abysmal. Many have no concept of what it is really about, have never been near a newspaper or magazine office and have been employed for their looks rather than their brains (yes, I know that sounds sexist but it is unfortunately a fact in many cases).

Give me an intelligent, thoughtful PR (male or female) over a bimbo (or himbo) any day. It amazes me that PR agencies allow vacant, often inexperienced and young PR staff to handle major accounts that must be worth tens of thousands of dollars to the agency.

I know that PR is not just about dealing with the media but I’ve seen some agencies boasting that they were agency of the year and you have to wonder how on earth they were judged when from a journo’s point of view they were total non-performers.

Sure they might have the big guns developing media strategy and having cappuccinos with the clients, but why invest so little in the staff that actually deliver the service (ie work with journalist). It’s not like PR is like McDonalds, but then again…

Whatever deadline you set, someone always seems to respond during the few days following. I’m sure editors will say the same about some of their freelancers, but that’s another story!

I always think with bemusement how much tech companies must pay big-name PR firms just to handle the administrivia involved with getting products out to journalists and then back again.

Whoa! How about that for insight?

I expect to hear from many of my PR friends about the issues raised above, and post their feelings of gratitude for this type of information… yeah right!



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