Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sustainable PR - The Message, the Media and What Matters.

How do you tell a story today? Not just bits of news, scrabbled together quickly to get a story listed first on some website, but a real, thought-provoking, compelling and relevant news story. It’s not easy given the pressures companies feel to get notice and the media feel to stay competitive. I’ve been in PR for a long time. I’ve worked for great companies, good companies and companies I wish to forget. Five years ago, I started a PR firm called Connect2 Communications, Inc. because I felt there was a market opportunity to reconnect PR as an integral part of a company’s business and market objectives.

For what it’s worth (and that’s up to you the reader), below is a list of things a PR person must do when they work with their clients to help tell a story:
  • Understand why the news is relevant to their target audience (note, the media is not part of the target audience)
  • Appreciate the interest, constraints and style of each reporter that might be interested
  • Understand that the media’s job is to write stories that connect to their readers so be prepared with information that provides background, context and additional, outside resources that can provide unbiased opinions
  • Good stories can happen often but great stories require a relationship between the company and the reporter and that takes time, trust and access.

The truth is, not every story a client wants to tell is newsworthy. There are lots of releases we write that fall into that category and we never send them out to our press lists. But just because it’s not newsworthy, doesn’t mean it’s not an important part of the client’s overall story. For these types of stories (partnerships, hires, new facilities), we writes the releases a bit differently and leverage the various news wires to talk directly to readers.

Fundamentally, a client’s ability to tell a story, and a reporter’s ability to write, comes down to trust, respect, honesty and integrity. No one wins when one side, or the other, operates outside of these basics.

There is a lot being written this week about good PR/bad PR, etc., so I wanted to contribute a bit to the ongoing debate.

My two cents, more to come.

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