One of my favorite public relations professionals is Joan Stewart, who has a business called The Publicity Hound that helps other public relations professionals do better work. Her blog has this post: How to work with a PR firm: 15 do’s and 8 don’ts, and I’d like to add look at a few of the “don’ts” more closely:
A few years back, I was working as the local public relations representative for one of the major national mobile phone services headquartered on the East Coast (not to date myself, but this was when combining a cellphone with a PDA was news). One of my jobs was to take corporate’s press releases, edit them to make them relevant for the local market and send them out to the Chicago area media. Many times, the “news” had to do with personnel changes that would mean nothing to someone in the Midwest. Yet, I had to edit the releases, and get them to people who covered the consumer technology news. It was painful and a waste of time. I could have focused my efforts on more productive and relevant outreach.
Wow, does this make me crazy. Many of my clients are very successful professionals. And I know they became successful by making friends and influencing other business professionals. However, some of them think that influence can be used to get a reporter to write something more favorable or give them more space in an article. Part of the value of earned media is that the “media” contacts decide how you “earn” space in what they report. Think of it like bribing a police officer to not give you a ticket, though it might succeed in the short-term, it might get you in deep trouble.
Amen to that. Public relations professionals help shape and carry the message to the right people. I like to think of it as getting news from the President of the United States verses his press people. The media is more likely to run footage of the President making a major announcement than the press secretary. That holds true for any professional that wants to be seen as the corporate representative. The PR person can set the stage, yet the client needs to step into the spotlight.
Joan has a wealth of information at her blog. Check it out.