Tuesday, June 22, 2010

PRTini Ponderings

prTini, a fellow PR and Ohio chic is fairly well known in the twitterverse. Today her blog entry was something I have been wanting to write about for a while. It's on the topic of judging a publicist on their rolodex. Her perspective is from a client choosing a firms point of view. My issue is more on an employer.

Read her entry:

Some PR people like to tout the size of their rolodex (or whatever contact management system they prefer)? Especially with the proliferation of social media – and how easily we can see connection quantities – we place a lot of importance on network size.

Here’s the thing: That’s important, but it’s not the most important factor in determining how effective someone will be in generating media coverage

A quick story to illustrate my point, based on a recent conversation with a prospective client.

Client: We’re talking to [insert PR company}, who told us that she has the local editor on speed dial and knows all the TV anchors.

Me: Are you looking only for local media coverage or do you want coverage on blogs and outlets outside this market?

Client: We want some coverage here locally, but we think we have the potential to expand into multiple markets.

Me: Then I don’t think someone’s rolodex of local contacts is really all that important. You need someone who has demonstrated the ability to find the news in a story, identify the right reporter at the right outlets, pitch the story in a way that pique’s the reporter’s interest, and then can work with you and the reporter to facilitate a story that aligns with your overall communication goals, while giving the reporter the information needed to write a compelling story that readers will want to read. This ability to think strategically and creatively, do the necessary groundwork, and deliver strong results has nothing to do with contacts on speed dial.

The person understood my point, and now we’re working together. Don’t get me wrong: Contacts do matter. It can be easier for a PR person to get a story placed if he/she has a pre-existing relationship with a journalist or blogger. But, it’s impossible to know every writer at every publication. Especially when dealing with an agency environment that has clients in multiple industries – it’s just not feasible to have meaningful relationships with every reporter.

In the past month, I’ve secured coverage for clients in BusinessWeek.com, Women’s Wear Daily, Glamour, LATimes.com, Huffington Post, Web Worker Daily … all without the benefit of a pre-existing relationship with the reporter who wrote the story. Businesses looking to hire a PR person need to find the person who can create a solid pitch to grab the reporter’s attention and secure solid media coverage — not just the person with the longest contact list.

Am I right or wrong? What do you think?

Photo credit: renaissancechambara

My reaction:

I love this post because I get SO frustrated at interviews when people ask me who I know and if I have a good relationship with "so and so". (Warning: about to rant.)

There are so many maybes here that I think make it irrelevant. Maybe the only reason I don't know someone is because I never had the opportunity yet considering I am still only a Junior level and applying for a Junior level position and you wont let me pitch anyway once I get this job, yet you want to judge me on my contacts? (Fortunately thats not my case, but friends have had this issue.)

If I don't know someone at The Morning Show, that does not disable me from calling them and pitching them. If I can pick up the phone and confidently and successfully pitch, then that should count more.

Everyone started with an empty rolodex and everyone has to pitch at some point. I also think it's slightly less relevant now due to the easier access to journalists. Maybe when people actually took 3 hours to get someones information...time is money...I get that. But thats not the case anymore.

Can someone from the other side of the table please explain this to me? Are you really making a big deal about this at an interview or is it just a general question to see if you are capable of creating relationships? Just because I know someone at the Times doesn't mean I can get a placement for a crappy client story.

OK I'm done. :)

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