No relationship is perfect. Even Disney acclaims to this fact when ‘Frozen’ female-lead Anna, ends up with Kristoff, rather than ‘pretty boy’ Prince Hans.
At the end of the film, Anna, Princess of Arendelle eventually ends up falling for Kristoff, a true outdoorsman with a penchant for ‘eating boogers because every guy does it’, living and eating carrots with his mangy reindeer and taking an occasional bath here and there, seems like a MIS-MATCH made in heaven. He is a bit of a ‘Fixer-Upper’ anyway.
But no, we won’t be reviewing the dynamics of an animated couple’s relationship today but rather, the fact that every relationship seems to have its own quirks now and again. This holds true for corporate relationships as well, and more importantly, the one that we’re going to address in this post: The relationship between a PR firm and its corresponding media counterparts, AKA journalists and reporters.
While journalism and mass communication is thought to include broadcasting, print, advertising and public relations, the relationships between journalists and public relations have a tendency to be viewed as strained in the communication world. The question is, is this only a perceived problem or is there actual animosity between journalists and public relations professionals?
The first part of this post is to address how the media can piss off a PR firm. And before critics come barging through our office door with accusations of biasness and defamatory remarks, I will also address the flip side of the coin, how a PR firm can piss off the media. In the end, what this post aims to achieve is a simple list of what and what not to do when you are in these industries, so that we can all strive towards a common goal; to tell compelling stories, provide client satisfactions and getting the job done.
Things Media do to PR firms.
Manners cost nothing and politeness is the new virtue. Journalists are tight for time, we get that. Sometimes PR firms may call in at an exceptionally bad time (or perhaps these journalists were just having a bad day) but that is no excuse for being rude. Even if you are simply not interested in our pitches, a simple ‘thanks but no thanks’ would indicate that we ought to hit our pitches right out of your ballpark. PR Pros do not set out to be pests; we are just real people trying to do our jobs.
Story Goes Livewire, but Gets Short-Circuited.
A journalist has posted a story, that’s great news, but how is the PR team supposed to promote it if they were not notified about it in the first place? As tempting as it is to Facebook/Google/Twitter/Internet stalk journalists, PR Pros can’t be on someone’s tail 24 hours at a time.
Going ‘Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride’ On PR Pros
Getting an elusive top-tiered business media interview is sort of like getting invited to the Olympics. If an article comes out from that, it’s like winning the gold medal as well. So when PR Pros secure an interview, we run back to our clients, getting them all excited and prepped. However, a few short hours before the actual interview, we realised that the journalist has ‘bumped’ our story, simply because he decided that our client was not up his alleyway. Do you want us to get a heart attack? Because that is how we get a heart attack.
Things PR firms do to the media.
Skydiving Into a Pitch Without a Parachute
This is a no-brainer because marketing and public relations rides well on personalization. There is nothing more distasteful to a journalist than receiving pitches from PR flacks that don’t do a smattering of research.
Google exists for a reason and a good one at that, for people to use it. PR Pros who take the time to really understand a particular journalist’s tastes, themes and interests afford them the attention that their pitch needs. Additionally, it would be viable for PR Pros to learn and understand exactly what they are pitching. Being able to answer basic questions about a client’s business proves that they have done their homework.
The Clingy Girlfriend Calling
Most people would agree that having one clingy girlfriend is more than enough. PR firms who continuously (and repeatedly) make cold calls to journalists are egging them in the wrong direction. Following up multiple times with a telegram, fax or pigeon carrier is not going to break through the clutter either.
Journalist or not, writing is an arduous task. It is difficult to remain focused if the lines are going off the hook every 5 minutes and from a PR firm no less (probably to call if you have received our pitch/release in the last minute). At the very least, the journalist will begin to see red.
Social Media Outreach
Our world is way too connected, and this is burning us out. A work/life balance is becoming increasingly challenging and everyone (PR Pros and Journalists alike) are making efforts to separate our personal and professional lives. Studies have shown that reporters who were pitched through social media were less likely to respond to such pitches. No surprise there, most people do employ their Facebook and Twitter accounts as a platform for entertainment and leisure. How would you like if a sales rep was selling a product through your Facebook account? To play it safe, just stick with emailing them.
No amount of good practice from either side of the industry will placate the other at a 100% and turn them into best friends. But that’s okay. Journalists and PR Pros alike exist to satisfy clients (and readers). Our job as a PR firm is to advise our clients on how best to ride these media rapids while a journalist’s aim is to report on events in a balanced fashion. Like it or not, both industries have a symbiotic relationship with one another. If PRs and journalists can accept that we need each other and move forward with mutual respect and understanding, then both of our jobs will become ultimately more satisfying.
Posted by Stacey Choo, PR Executive, CorpMedia
“If you are not a brand, you are a commodity.” — Philip Kotler
Pulling a Miley is officially a thing. For those strangely not in the know, the term, coined after Cyrus’ shocking performance at this year’s VMAs refers to a rebranding attempt that has derailed. In light of all the coffee shop talk surrounding this recent publicity stunt, we want to share our two cents on the reality of successful rebranding.
Firstly, Cyrus should not be mistaken as one that doesn’t know the business. The former Disney star was previously a fresh-faced family-friendly role model to global consumers. She made millions off their loyal commercial following for years.
From a PR stance, it is hard to deny the gravity of coverage her performance has brought. It is clear that she intended to stir controversial and crazed reactions. The question here is whether the fruits of that coverage have been a boon or bane to her direction as an artiste.
At one point, her performance sparked a massive 306,100 tweets a minute. The Super Bowl blackout, another Twitter frenzy, had 231,000 tweets per minute at its peak. The US 2012 elections peaked at 327,452 tweets per minute. Google traffic spiked as well as it registered over 10 million searches for Cyrus that night. The Syrian crisis, on the other hand, registered only 100,000 searches in comparison. This was even in light of an announcement of likely military intervention. The scale of the social media eruption she caused here is clear.
So, how does this translate to you and your business? Can you revitalise, renew, and refresh your business exactly the way you want?
As your personal brand or business grows and develops, it is only natural that it may need certain minor or major facelifts. This is important so that it continues to parallel the direction you are going in. A rebrand is possible without having to alienate, confuse, and stun all your current and potential consumers.
State a plan
Before anything can be done, you need to have a strong, specific, and detailed plan. This may seem self-explanatory, but is often very much undermined. Whether out of recognition of your company’s needs or by sheer epiphany, there is often a tendency to just throw something together and act on impulse. Cyrus desperately wanted to shake off her goody Disney princess shoes. We’ve seen it with others like Lindsay Lohan and Vanessa Hudgens. While that is an understandable right, you need to take a thorough look at your business. Really consider how you want to be perceived not just by potential consumers but also by industry players. Then, predetermine and quantify the elements you are going to change. Some questions to consider for both businesses and individuals alike include:
Where do you want to be two years from now?
What is your USP (unique selling proposition)?
Start with slow and subtle changes and see if your existing consumers react favourably. This could include introducing new topics on the company blog and tweaking the tone and language a little in company platforms. Then, be very aware of what they respond to and what they don’t. Also, be receptive and responsive to input and feedback that come in. This will be key in consumer retention and engagement.
Decide how badly you want it, and persevere. Most don’t make it past the first year. It takes a lot of work, and maybe even more time. Also, remember that it is impossible to please everyone. There are always going to be people who do not approve or understand, and that is okay. Beware of trying to be all things to all people, that is a recipe for disaster! Partner with others who are passionate about what they do.
By doing your homework and thinking logically and logistically, you’ll soon be able to rebrand with smooth sailing even in rough waters without having to pull a Miley.
Posted by Yiwen Ng, Public Relations Executive, Corporate Media