One of the most difficult tasks anyone in public relations has is oddly enough communicating news to the media. These “outreaches” or “pitches,” as they are called, can be unbelievably awkward at times. Such is the case with some news this writer is putting out for next week. As it turns out pitching the likes of Peter Greenberg, maybe the world’s greatest authority for all things travel, is a decent case study in media communications.
Being not only a PR firm, but a news source ourselves, the eclectic nature of all those things we send and receive information on is both wonderful, and at times daunting. The wonderful part is, we get to touch on so much, meet so many fine people, engage the world as it is, vast – yet all to often small and intimate.
Knowing Your Audience – Hah!
The long and short of this, in as far as mistakes and success are concerned, it that it is impossible to remember (or even jot down) everything. Such is the case with a little “pitch” we are sending out for next week. The import of our client’s fairly wonderful news, overriding even one’s own obvious recollections. How could I have forgotten who Peter Greenberg was? Well, never forgotten, but certainly underestimated. Here’s why.
Stay.com’s public beta launch is a project we have been been working on for almost a year. A valuable commodity to say the least. Their beta launch next week, of course, putting us in the director’s chair for a spell – just like any PR company. From social media to the irreconcilable personal emails (never send out automated stuff), phone calls, network outreaches, blah, blah, blah – even the “personal” gets to be impersonal.
When Pweeeez May Not Cut It
Then you do some brief research on the names, to get to know some of the people, after all who wants to be a jerk and mimic the cold sale encyclopedia salesman? Then it happens. The cognizant memory is overridden by need, or want, whatever. An Emmy Award winning expert gets an email, maybe a Facebook message, a Tweet; “Hey Meester travel guru number 57, could you pwwweeeeeeze be so kind?” Let me drop a few names to clarify this story a little better; CBS News, Today, CNBC, MSNBC, Good Morning America, Newsweek, Forbes, and Paramount just to name a few.
This is the point when any good communicator pops the top on a cold one and thinks to his or herself; “You may have overlooked the possibility you are a moron.” But then, how does anyone reach out to people in the know? There is an honesty to mistakes, isn’t there? People like Greenberg have seen it all. Maybe a crappy pitch send honestly is better than one too refined after all? The lesson here (at least I hope so)? Be honest.
Having been on both ends of the “pitching” and catching end of things, I have to say the honesty of PR pitches is often easy to see. After a while one gets this ability (as a writer) to recognize the worn out PR rep on the other end of a mail. For me, I can see he or she hurriedly getting out this blurb or that at the speed of light – the glazed over eyeballs recalling distantly the enthusiasm of some great business venture. Most early startup CEO’s, from experience reporting and consulting them, are about as ready to go on vacation at a launch as they are continued development – the same is true for PR (and probably people like Greenberg too). “For God’s sake, when will they stop launching stuff?”
A Fastball Pitched To The Bambino – Eek!
The best advice any PR expert can give another is to do your best to research the people who actually can make or break your business. It should also be noted that being mercenary about this (adding friends and neighbors) is about as genuine as that last Internet flop you touted. Not every PR out there has at their disposal their own news outlet (ergo this article of do and don’t) to apologize for breaches of etiquette however small.
Sorry Peter, I was just getting done with remembering who Doug Lansky is, had little time to read all the 1.16 million results for you on Google. Point is, I did not need to really, I could have just thought “travel” and recalled. For those of you who do not know (the ones connected to the Internet by nylon strings) Peter covers travel, on and off line, like Baba Wawa (Barbara Walters) or Walter Cronkite covered the world. Enough said, save being gracious is next to godliness in my view. A new golden rule for PR execs and wanna bees? Well, maybe a re-written one; “Give the proper gravity to every situation, slow down, know to whom and of what you are speaking.” But of course, what can you do anyway, rewrite Wikipedia in an email?
This is in no way intended to minimize the import of ALL collaborators, but if you or I had put in the work Greenberg has? Well, try not saluting that Major General or Vice Admiral the next time he or she passes by in review. Sorry Peter, I tend to be too personable sometimes, my fatal flaw. But too the press I sent you is about a personable travel startup. :) Besides, Arnold Schwarzenegger follows me on Twitter, it is his fault I tend to call the world friend. Peter below being a friend to the AARP.