Searching the Haight for Signs of Life

Monday, November 13, 2006

10 Rules for PR Success

Prompted by Seth Godin's post on the Zune player, here's the lessons I learned talking technology to a bunch of careworn reporters as part of my gig at a boutique ad agency.

I've been thinking a lot about what I learned from agency life, as I start to think about PR for my new venture. These are more along the lines of how to build relationships. I'll save what a good "press release" looks like for another post, but this company has the best in the business.

10 Rules for PR Success

1. Don't expect to get a story placed unless the reporter knows your first name. Better yet, knows your favorite football team, your birthday, and likes to catch lunch with you when they're in town.

2. If you have news about your company, call the media early. These people work long hours, run around, and in general have a lot of people trying to talk to them. Weeks, months early. Tell them as soon as you know... they like news.

3. Do you answer spam? Neither do they. A good PR operative can call 4 reporters and place 2 stories. A bad PR operative will email 100, place 1 story, and alienate the other 99 who didn't need a pinch story for a deadline or have some online text dump. Build up an opt-in RSS subscription to your company's blog or get personal permission from a reporter to send them links and two sentence announcements upon occasion via email. A good PR operative will eventually begin to pull incoming phone calls, inquiries, and traffic to the company's press site, rather than just pushing out information.

3. Be a resource, not a pest. Schedule interviews effectively and quickly, call reporters back quickly, and don't BS them. It helps to be a little deferential, because they (the media) are "noble," and you (the corporate sell-out) are "well-paid."

4. Think about what they care about... stuff in their domain expertise/beat, elements of a good story, credible sources, and a pitch that shows you care at least a little bit about technology and in particular your company's technology or whatever you are selling.

5. Give reporters insight into your company's vision and strategy. Lay out your product roadmap as much as you can. Make them think you know something. Get them interested.

6. Don't tell the media about: Your Company's Mundane Hires, Your Company's Sales Figures, Your Company's Crappy Deals, Your Company's Awards in Trade Rags

7. Do tell the media about: Your Company's Incorporation, Your Company's Deals With Fortune 500 Companies With Case Study And Interview Back-Up, Your Company's New Products, Your Technical Staff's Research and Event Attendance (to the appropriate outlets)

7. Your media list is treasure to be polished and expanded and cherished. Look in Bacon's, competitor news clippings, Google, etc. Keep a copy somewhere for a rainy day.

8. Local media is your friend. They like local stories and they like local success. Front page business stories in the local leading daily look good in a clip book and on a resume.

9. You must give exclusives to get your company into national media. The exclusive is your friend, and once it breaks, it ceases to be exclusive.

10. Everyone is a publicist. The internet gives most anyone enough information to make a go a PR. If no one at your company is calling the media, then you should probably start tomorrow.


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