Diary of a PR Amateur

Of Blitzes and Misdirection Plays

March 23, 2010
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Well, we sent out a record four releases in less than a week. And I don’t want to pat myself on the back or anything, but the reactions from the media with whom I spoke yesterday were amazing. One example:

Joe: I sent you a release today about (product)

Reporter: Joe, you just called me an hour ago about a different release, and you called me last Friday about another one. And none of them are really that interesting. But yes, I did see the release about (product).

Joe: Great. As you can see, we are a company on the move. Lots going on here.

Reporter: I don’t understand you guys. You go like four months without announcing anything, and then three releases in four days. What’s your deal?

Joe: Just you wait. We’ve got another one going out at 5 p.m.!

Reporter: Uh-huh. Well, Joe, gotta go. Bye.

You see! It’s working! They all know who we are now! Our brand awareness has increased dramatically among the press this week and it’s all because of my strategy.

Now, my follow-up idea is to go another few months before sending out another announcement. It’ll be great. They’re going to wonder, “What happened to (my company)? They were making so much noise back in March.”

And then, just as they think we are out of the game again, I’m going to blitz them again in late June. It’ll be amazing.

I’ll tell you, at first I wasn’t so happy when my company decided not to hire a PR firm. But now, since I’ve gotten more involved … I love it.

By the way, you are welcome to try this strategy, too, and you don’t even have to give me credit.


Blitz-time

March 21, 2010
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I haven’t been posting as much over the last week, largely because I have been so busy doing the job of three people, which, I assure you, I’m more than capable of doing.

As you know, I got rid of my agency, and management decided we don’t need to hire a new one and that it’s all up to me. Obviously, they made that kind of a decision because they know how good I am at this.

So at the end of last week, I came up with another one of my incredible ideas:

We are going to blitz the market with news releases.

My company has three amazing announcements that we can make. One is about a partnership with one of the world’s biggest tech companies. Another is a new product that is forever going to change our industry. The third is a major new customer.

Now, conventional wisdom in PR is to space out these announcements over several weeks or even a month, but as you know, I like to go against the grain. That’s why I’ve decided to release all three press releases on consecutive days.

The market isn’t going to know what hit it. And in the end, after those three days are over, my company is going to be sitting at the top of the heap in our industry.

Stay tuned …


The Worst They Can Say

March 15, 2010
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We are all brought up with the notion that there is no harm in asking for something because, after all, the worst the other party can say is, “no.”

Well, as you know, one of my goals with this blog is to educate you, the PR world, about how things work. And so, I suggest you take out a pen and paper and jot down today’s lesson.

The worst the other party can say is far worse than “no.” I know this because my former-agency-that-shall-not-be-named responded in such a rotten way when I put forth my request to them.

I don’t really understand why they responded in such a passionate manner, given all I have done for them. After all, forever more they will be able to say that they had me as a client. That will help their business tremendously. They will be able to tell the world that – at one point – I chose them to be my agency.

Well, none of that mattered to them today, even though they could have looked at this as an extra opportunity to get into my good graces. Instead, they responded as follows:

Joe: Hey, (name). How’s it going?

Agency guy: Uh, hi, Joe.

Joe: You know, we still haven’t paid that last invoice, the one from the final month of our relationship.

Agency guy: Yes, my accounting department has been concerned about it. Should they be?

Joe: Well, funny you should ask that, (name). I’ve been thinking, I could easily arrange for that invoice to be paid, but I need you to give me something in return.

Agency guy: Um, Joe, we gave you a month of our hard work in return, so we should be paid.

Joe: Well, anyway, I figure if you could work from today through next month for us, for free, I would be glad to pay that last invoice because, if you think about it, you guys didn’t really get anything done for us during that final month.

Agency guy: We wrote a plan of action for you and set you up with five top journalists. We also sent you a list of press release topics, because you weren’t able to come up with them yourself.

Joe: So this means you will be able to work for us during the next month for free?

Agency guy: Seriously, Joe, not only would we not work for you for free, we wouldn’t even work for you for pay anymore. You are quite possibly the most amateurish PR person we’ve ever come across, and can’t believe someone pays you to do your job. In fact, we actually want you to say bad things about us, because a bad review coming from you would actually make us sound better to potential clients.

Joe: You could have just said “no.”

Agency guy: (click)

Joe: I’ll take that as a “no.”

Anyway, they were way out of line, and I’m pretty sure that (name) wouldn’t like me to tell his CEO that he spoke to me that way.

At the same time, I’ve got work to do. No more of this dilly-dallying around with a second-rate former agency.


It Just Might Work

March 11, 2010
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I don’t exactly know how my company’s management team is expecting me to get everything done. I mean, I just outlined for you all the responsibilities I have, and it seems to me that they ought to cut me some slack. But today, none of that matters, because I came up with a great idea.

I am going to contact my former agency and explain to them that I was so disappointed by the lack of results they secured for me that I am going to insist they do two more months of work for my company for free. That’s right, gratis.

And they will do it because we still have not paid their last invoice, and I will explain to them that I don’t see how I can pay that invoice when they didn’t get me the results I wanted … unless they can do some more work for us for free.

And I’ll even tell them that if they do a good job there’s a possibility we would rehire them for a 12-month contract. That should be enough to get a “yes” out of them. I’ll report back later about what their answer is – but I think we all know that it will be “yes,” don’t we?


The King of the Message

March 9, 2010
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Many of you must be wondering, “How difficult is it to be the head of PR for a company?”

For that reason, I thought I’d provide this service to you of explaining what kinds of things I have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

First, of course, I have my responsibility to my customers, the media. As I wrote in my previous post, I now have the responsibility for actually securing articles about my company in the magazines, newspapers, websites, etc. that mean something to us. This is certainly not a concern for me, since I’ve been through the wars, but it takes up a lot of time.

Then, I have to play the important role of participating in all sorts of meetings here. Management includes me in every important meeting because they want my communication perspective, which they find valuable. This takes up a lot of my time, and the agencies I’ve worked with have never appreciated that.

I also have to walk around the office and talk with people in the different departments (sales, R&D, marketing, finance, the mailroom, the reception desk, product development, etc.) to see if perhaps there are great PR stories floating around that I don’t know about yet. This also takes time.

Of course, much of my time is spent strategizing, and even when I’m not really strategizing, I sometimes spend up to two hours just standing next to my white board with a marker in my hand looking like I am strategizing. I think the managers who walk by my cube are impressed with this.

I also like to call myself “The King of the Message,” because I am so good at developing messages. For example, let’s say the story is that our CEO has been killed in a freak hunting accident, I’d churn out the following messages:

1. The (my company) family is greatly saddened by the sudden loss of our fearless leader.
2. Although he will be missed, this will have absolutely no impact on our business whatsoever.
3. (my company) continues to be an industry leader that innovates, manufactures and markets the best products in the world.

Do you see what I’ve done there? That’s why I call myself “The King of the Message.” I’m depended upon to generate these messages at a moment’s notice, if need be.

I’ve asked others around here to refer to me as “The King of the Message,” or just “Message King,” but it hasn’t caught on yet. I just need to market it a little further.


The Ups and Downs

March 3, 2010
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Well, I was right. My former agency told me they couldn’t help me with the list, so I told them I’d spread nasty rumors about them. That’s all it took. They produced the list I needed.

Like I’ve said all along, I know what I’m doing. That’s why I’m in this role.

So I got the list and started pitching the media, but it seems that my pitch wasn’t as strong as it needed to be:

Me: “Hi, I’m Joe from (my company). I think you should write a story about my company because I’ve been around for a while and I know a good story when I see one. And this is one!”

Reporter: (laughing) “Are you being serious?”

Me: “Yes. It’s a great company. We are innovative. We are unique. We are doing things here that are revolutionary.”

Reporter: “Bob? Is that you, Bob? Are you pulling my leg by trying to imitate an idiotic PR person?”

(click)

I guess things have changed a bit since I last did pitching. But I’m not worried. I just have to massage the story a bit more and they’ll be begging me for interviews with our CEO.


Of Media Lists, Press Releases and Phone Calls

March 1, 2010
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Okay, I feel like today is the first day of the rest of my life. Actually, I really am feeling pretty good as I gaze around my cube.

I decided the first course of action today would be to take an inventory of our media lists. Well, it’s a good thing I’m doing that because it seems these lists only have phone numbers and email addresses. No fax numbers, no addresses. What is going to happen if I have a great conversation with a reporter and he says, “Hey, sounds like a terrific story. Can you fax the info to me?” Then, who is going to look like the idiot when he has to ask for the fax number? That’s right, ME! Well, that ain’t going to happen.

Anyway, I’m just going to call the agency and ask them to get me the fax numbers and addresses, since that’s something they should have done when they were working with us. I’m sure they’ll have no problem with it. If they give me a hard time, I’ll just tell them that I’m never going to work with them again, and that I’m going to spread around a negative opinion of them to my colleagues.


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