Diary of a PR Amateur

Press Release Ideas

January 31, 2010
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My agency recently asked me for “a pipeline of PRs.”  This is something I don’t really understand.  We are paying them so much money to do our PR for us.  Why should I have to give them a list of things going on in the company that will give them ideas for press releases?  Shouldn’t they come up with the ideas themselves?  Isn’t that why I pay them so much?

Well, guess what?  They don’t think so.  They think it’s my job to find out from my company what is happening.  But I’ve already explained to you that I’m not so good when it comes to actually getting things done, and that I’m much better at looking busy.  I’d really prefer to lay low and not give my management team a reason to look into how good I am at getting results.

But I have an idea.  Since most announcements wind up not actually materializing anyway, I’m just going to make up the press release topics, have the agency write up the releases and then explain that getting approvals is just taking a long time.

I’ll post the topics later, just so you see how clever I can be.

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So Now What?

January 24, 2010
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Well, my agency provided me with the document of “how we should be working together,” but between you and me, I don’t really understand it.  In fact, I was so sure they weren’t going to be able to put it together that I had forgotten about the whole thing.

But sure enough, they crafted something and want to move ahead.  But my management team already told me that they have accepted the existing plan for 2010, so I’m a little stuck.

Luckily, I know just what to do in this instance.  I’m going to call for a meeting with my agency.  Then, I’ll get them so involved in the minutia of our work that they won’t even be able to introduce the topic of the “how we should be working together” plan.

Man, it’s so nice to be as smart as I am.


Ambiguous, and Proud of It!

January 21, 2010
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My agency really does try hard (as well they should!), and I believe they want to succeed.  And sometimes, I like to challenge them to see how creatively they are able to think.

So today, I asked them to provide me with a document outlining “how we should be working together.” Here’s the email I sent them:

Hey, guys –

You know how highly I think of you, but I want to make sure I am getting value out of this relationship on an ongoing basis.  Therefore, I’d like from you – by next Wednesday – a report on how we should be working together.

Thanks immensely,

Joe

And to be honest, I have no idea what the whole thing means, but it’s so exciting to me to see what they will come up with.  Maybe it will be useless, but maybe, just maybe, they will come back to me with something that includes some ideas we haven’t thought of already.

I’ve learned that sometimes, if you ask for something really specific from your agency, you wind up getting exactly what you asked for.   I want my agency to aim higher, so I sometimes purposely ask for things in an ambiguous way.  It must drive them crazy, but there’s a method to my madness!


Money Well-spent

January 20, 2010
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So at the end of the day, the PR firm did decide to agree to the $6,000, and that’s fine with me, because management told me that the $6,000 I saved them was going to kill us if I wasn’t able to get the PR results myself.  Now, like I said yesterday, I specialize in “looking” busy, but I’m not so strong in the getting results department.  I don’t particularly care about results, since all they do is raise the bar for next time.  And that, my loyal readers, is not what any of us want.

We’ll see how it goes with them.  I’ve already written my first email of disappointment, which I plan to send out after about a week and a half.  It reads as follows: “When I decided to hire you, I was sure I was going to be working with the best.  At this point, that is clearly not the case.  In fact, I don’t see any value at all from you.  If things don’t improve over the next week, I don’t see how I can pay you for your time.  Please call me to discuss this urgent issue.  Thanks, and have a nice day.”

Notice how I ended in a positive way.  That way, they’ll still want to work hard for me.  The beauty of this idea is that it works, no matter what kind of results they will have achieved.


Saving Six Thousand Bucks

January 19, 2010
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I was in talks with my PR firm about a specific project.  We wanted interviews set up for our CEO at a trade show taking place next month.  (As an aside, I love trade shows, because I’m really at my best in that element.  You see, I’ve become an expert at looking busy, so I do terrifically well at trade shows.  My managers always see me running from here to there with an urgent look on my face.  They don’t realize that I’ll run that way to the snack bar, or that I’ll run that way to the bathroom.  To them, as long as I look busy, I’m doing a whale of a job.  I’d even go so far as to say I’ve perfected this.  It’s all about finding the proper balance of furrowed brow, sweat, unkempt clothes and a handful of papers.)

Seven weeks in advance of the show, they proposed that they could do the job for $10,000.  So I figured I would make them wait a few weeks – so they were more desperate for the money – and then tell them they could move ahead for $6,000.

Well, this morning – less than a month before the show – I told them that we’re ready to move ahead if they can deal with a $6,000 budget.  They said no.  But that’s okay, because we’re no worse off  than we were beforehand, and I look at it like I just saved my company six thousand bucks.

Not bad, huh?


Let ’em Wait

January 18, 2010
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I love my job, but one thing that bothers me is how little respect I get from the management team here at my company.  They (including my boss) don’t understand what I do and they just think I’m the guy who gets them free publicity.  Sometimes they have meetings and I only find out about them after the fact.  And just yesterday, my boss made me wait an hour before meeting with me.

To counteract how my bosses make me feel, I tend to treat my agency guys poorly.  Like today, we had a meeting scheduled for 11:30 a.m.  I decided to play Bloons for an hour and make the guys wait until 12:15 p.m.  Then, I didn’t even apologize when I walked into the conference room 45 minutes late.  and the cool thing was that since we’re paying them, they couldn’t say a word about it.


Two Heads Are Better Than One

January 17, 2010
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11:15 a.m. –

I had a big announcement that I wanted help with, so I got our PR firm to distribute the press release around the Net.  When I noticed that there wasn’t anything coming up on Google after a few hours, I thought, “gotta take the bull by the horns.”  I called another PR guy I know and told him I’d throw a few bucks his way for doing HIS best to send it around also.

But here’s where I make a difference: I didn’t tell the other firm!  You get it?  If I told them, they’d explain why I should stick with them, and tell me that they needed more time to get results.  so I kept them in the dark.  That way, I have TWO firms working for me at once.  Not a bad arrangement, right.

1:21 p.m. –

I just got a call from firm #1.  Apparently, they are pretty good, when it comes to Google searches, because they just found a copy of the press release they’d been working on, with the other guy’s contact info at the bottom.  How could he be so dumb as to put his information there like that?  Anyway, firm #1 told me they won’t work with me anymore because “we don’t work like that,” whatever that means.  Their loss …


Why I’m Blogging

January 17, 2010
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Hi, my name is Joe and I’ve been in the PR business for a few years.  I’m no veteran, but people tell me I have a knack for this industry, so I figured I would provide a service to the PR world by posting about my experiences.  That way, you can all learn from me.

Also, I’ve noticed that bloggers sometimes become really famous, and I’d love to be invited to speak at conferences in cool places like Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi.  I like staying in hotels, and these conference organizers would probably want to keep me happy, so i’m guessing I’d get the nicest suite available in these places.

So enjoy the blog, forward a link of it to your friends (because they deserve to learn, too) and send me any questions you have.  I’ll be glad to respond to them.


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