Positive PR?

May 14, 2007

You get off the phone to the journalist, who tells you it is just a really busy news day, and they can’t squeeze in a mention of your brilliant survey. You open the paper and believe the latest tale of big Pharma’s munificence. Isn’t this preferable to accepting it was just a total turkey of a story you spent 4 hours of your life flogging? Or that everything you read has been spun?

It is easy for PR’s to become cynical. In some cases brand, individual’s and institution’s reputations may be deservedly positive, and coverage merely an accurate reflection of their efforts. In others, however, it can appear to be more a case of smoke and mirrors, and these suspicions engender cynicism. Indeed, spend enough time around some ‘old-timers’ and you being to question everything you take for granted, to the extent you begin to doubt even your own birthday.

Should young PR’s try and fend off the advent of this inevitable depression about the nature of modern news and media, or embrace it early on?

Without the benefit of weather-beaten experience is it preferable to give the benefit of the doubt, and allow yourself to enjoy the multitude of delights the lower rungs of the PR ladder have to offer?

On the flip-side, Chris Clarke recently demonstrated the potential dangers of the trusting positivity of youth.

So, I wonder, at what point does the scepticism kicks in? Personally I’m still skipping around with the gauche energy of a spring lamb, but I presume the dark clouds of embitterred experience must yet lie ahead…

5 Responses to “Positive PR?”

  1. Hi chaps

    As an ‘old-timer’, if you consider 33 years old to be an ‘old-timer’, I think the problem with being a baby PR is the fact that you constantly have to flog what your line-manager or client tells you to flock. You soon realise that a ‘good story’ is a relatively small part of the PR process to getting coverage, and in fact, persistence, a good contacts database and a small amount of good old fashioned ‘luck’ is what really gets coverage these days.

    What you have to understand as a ‘baby PR’ is the fact that there are hundreds of you out there all flogging probably the same story to the same journalists on a regular basis, the factors I described above are what really count at the end of the day.

    Obviously as you progress to the levels of AM and AD, you then start to formulate your own ideas for stories, or you see the bigger picture and those stories that didn’t make much sense to you as an AE, suddenly do as an AM or AD, as you suddenly have a bit more industry knowledge and you understand why the story is newsworthy.

    So if you are struggling to sell the story as an AE, should you ask for more support from your AM/AD so you do understand…just a thought. I am of the strong belief that you understand what your response is going to be enven before you have got on the phone…otherwise why are you spending the time selling the story in the first place, it should be more than just guess work.

    Anyway, happy flogging!


  2. Hi Pietro,

    Interesting to get your perspective from the top end of the food chain! Do you think that experience described at, say, AD leads you to be cynical about the nature of media/PR though?

    Also good to get you input on the story vs contacts debate which was runnign on soem of the below post comment threads.

  3. I don’t think AD’s become cynical, I just think they are more aware of ‘the bigger picture’ and sometimes they are under internal/client pressures to do things that might go against their better judgment. As an AE you are not necessarily aware of what’s going on in regards to discussions about accountability, budget, non-payment etc, all things that you don’t need to know about, but never the less distract an AD and often influence decisions that you might think seem a bit odd..
    For example we have a client here that want to get into some specific vertical press as this is where they see some real financial gain. The trouble with this for us, is that the press in this particular sector would never write about their particular products as they are not directly relevant to the target audience of the magazine. So what do you do as an AD, say that you have failed and doing the PR is pointless therefore losing that source of revenue (which pays everyone’s wages btw), or do you get the AE’s to be more creative and start to try different ways of flogging the story…
    There’s a fine balance here based on retaining the client and more importantly its revenue!


  4. alaindesmier Says:

    Pietro, to play devils advocate – what happens if that particular sector press is a press that you target for another client and is a sector that you have a number of good contacts in who trust what you give them. Do you risk damaging your contacts just to please the client?

  5. Obviously the story you are trying to push should have some value, otherwise you are correct and you will damage your contacts, obviously there is a balance. I think from an AE’s point of view you really need to get guidance from the AM and AD and if they are not forthcoming, then they are probably unsure themselves!

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