When developing your next
media message, consider the following quote from former
Advertising Age editor John Wolfe: “The job of
advertising is to convince consumers; the job of PR is
to convince the press.”
One of the great failures in
public relations today is the blurring of the line
between advertising and PR. Ads are often written like
press releases, and media pitches are often thinly
disguised advertising ploys. It’s high time that the two
were appropriately segregated and labeled.
When advertising to end
users, companies make a specific pitch – they identify a
need and offer a solution (or create the need and then
offer a solution.) With a good PR campaign, the media
itself will identify the need and then specify the
company as a resource for the solution.
Cynical journalists have no
time for self-aggrandizing pitches and press releases.
The quickest way to a reporter’s trash is to send thinly
disguised advertising disguised as news. And, if you
send that ad blindly, in the form of a blanket press
release, you will ensure failure.
Following the advice that
opened this article, consider the message you are
crafting. How can you best convince the media your story
First, have a real story.
For example, a new hire or promotion at a radio station
is not necessarily newsworthy. But the addition of a
highly controversial on-air personality in the market
just may be worth a journalist’s time.
Second, pitch the story to
the appropriate media. Trying to get the city desk
editor intrigued by the hiring of the controversial
personality won’t get you anywhere, but the
entertainment editor may well have an interest.
Third, know your audience.
Do the editors you are trying to reach prefer email,
telephone or printed information? What are their
deadlines and when is the best time to approach them?
Fourth, have your story
complete. Be prepared with background information, third
party confirmations, and whatever else a journalist or
editor may be able to use if they decide they want to
cover. Nothing is worse than getting the media
interested in a story idea, only to drop the ball
because they request more information. You not only lose
the story, but any relationship with the editor that you
may have been able to foster.
So the next time you get an
idea for a public relations campaign, take a good look
at it. Are you trying to convince the press – or the