Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

PR people: Are you listening to the market?

When we undertake marketing or PR programs for a client or employer, one of the first steps is finding out how the organizations’ audiences percieve the client.

This takes many forms but one of the mainstays is the interview.  We talk with journalists, partners and customers to get a better view of the strengths and weaknesses of the organization.

So how is PR faring?

Last week I linked to an article by Loren Pomerantz that attempted to tackle the divide between PR and the media. The response (from the media) has been illuminating and depressing.

It’s best summed up by Mitch Wagner, who among other things works over at Internet Week.

Here’s how Mitch sees PR:

“Here’s what most of the PR people I deal with are like:

  • They do not know much about technology.
  • They don’t know much about the industry.
  • They know hardly anything at all about my publication.
  • Their main interest is not in having me write an article about their client. Their main interest is in having me INTERVIEW their client. I have been told that this is because (1) the interview makes more of an impression on the client than the actual article and (2) they can bill the client by the hour for sitting in on the interview.
  • In general, most of them are 22-year-olds straight out of  college, with little experience in the technology industry.
  • They behave very much like telemarketers. They have a script which they are not authorized to deviate from, or which they are unable to deviate from. And if I say I’m not interested in a story, they will ignore me and keep talking until I get them off the phone.

There are many exceptions to these rules, but these rules do apply to about 95 percent of the PR people who contact me.”

Wow. Now if you got this response from a survey of your clients, you would (rightly) believe that there was a lot of very hard work ahead.

It’s clear that we as a profession are failing on one of the most important aspects of our job.

It’s time to take control of your media relations.  It’s time to make sure that media facing staff, know their clients, know their media, know their publications and know the market.

Now, this all sounds very obvious.  But it’s clearly not being done.  I think this is a useful wake up call. Thanks are due to Mitch for his honesty.

Written by Tom Murphy

August 5, 2003 at 7:50 am

Posted in General

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