Tuesday, March 25, 2014

20 Things You Should Never Say to Your Public Relations Person.

I've worked in Marketing & Communications since 1995. That's almost twenty years of dealing with the media, being the media,  trying influence people's spending habits, and raising awareness about one cause or the other. 

It's exhausting.

But I love it.

Probably one of the biggest reasons I keep this blog is to have an outlet to voice my opinion, create my own best practices, and basically thumb my nose at the establishment.

However, this little mama needs new shoes, so working for "the man" must continue.

With that being said, not a day goes by without some "well meaning" person trying to tell me how to do my job. I don't care what field you are in, we all get a bit of this, but I think Marketing/Communications/Public Relations people get it more than anyone else. 

Thankfully, we are trained fairly early on how to smile, grit our teeth, and accept the daily criticism, (oh sorry.. I meant to say suggestions.) I would like to share with you 20 things you should never say to one of us:

1. "Have you thought about....?"  I spend 9+ hours a day thinking. Conjuring up creative, innovative, and down right brilliant ideas for promoting XYZ. I'm sure your idea never crossed my mind in the twenty years I have been dealing with this stuff.

2. "I don't think anyone knew about it. I never saw the commercial." Okay, soooo... I am sure you are sitting in front of your TV 24 hours a day, consistently combing through every station, at every commercial break. The typical household has over 300 channels. Oh, but you're right, it never aired. (Seriously?)

3. "My mom's cousin's sister's friend knows someone at XYZ station, I think we should definitely get on their show." Thanks for the info, however, did your mom's cousin's sister's friend tell you that the XYZ show is a podcast with about five listeners. Yeah, I did not think so.

4. "I don't know why you concentrate so much on Social Media. I mean, some of us don't get on Facebook or Twitter." Yes, this is true. But the 1.23 billion people that ARE on Facebook spend over 3 hours a day on this app, and close to 243 million people are active on Twitter. Sooo... I'll take your advice into consideration... however... um... yeah... I'll pass. 

5. "What do you mean what we're doing is not news worthy?" Okay, so herein lies the problem for those of us who actually worked in the news world, we actually know what makes a good story. I used to be a television news producer, so it was my job to decide whether or not something actually ended up in my show. If the visuals are not there, it's not worth it. PLUS - no one will come to cover it. 

6. "No one came to cover the event, did you even contact the media?" See number 5.

7. " Can you make me a flyer?" Hi, my name is Nicole, and there are two things I need to share with you. #1. You are not in college anymore, stop it with the flyers. #2. I'm not a graphic artist - those are two different career paths.

8. "So, we need a new website. Since you are the Marketing Director, I need you to create one, oh.. and... we don't have any money." Again, I say this unto thee - I am NOT a website designer. You hire people for that. Yes, I know some basic tricks, but no, it will not be what you are looking for. 

9. "Why weren't we listed in...." Okay, there are 5 bazillion publications & website sites out there. There is no way your "whatever" is going to make it into every.single.one. Also - important note, sometimes those "lists" actually cost money. Yeah.

10. "It is critically important we mention "so&so" sponsor during this interview." Yes, I get it. Every time anyone does anything, there is basically sponsorship dollars tied to it, however.. oh never mind. 

11. "We need billboards." Okay. One way communication. Hmm. They are expensive. The best media impressions will be on a major interstate. AND... do you really think the type of people you are trying to attract to your gala are going to feel compelled to purchase a $200 ticket by seeing the event on a billboard? I rest my case.

12. "Why can't we have an ad in "so&so" magazine?" Well... I agree, it would be so nice to be able to showcase what we do in every local, regional, and national magazine. However, even the smallest ad in the smallest magazine in a typical town will run you about $400 +, and that's per month. Don't even get me started on bigger pubs. If you work for nonprofit, you know exactly where I am going with this one.

13. "I know "so&so" is a media sponsor, but why don't they have the anchors talk about what we're doing on the desk?" Ha! Okay... this one is always my favorite. Let me introduce you to a television station. It's sort of like our government, there are different departments that act as a checks and balance sort of deal. You have promotions. You have news. You have sales. Rarely do the three cross over officially. PSAs - promotions. Commercials - Sales. News - Should not be bought & must remain objective. (Though, that's changing more and more.)

14. "They spent 2 hours at our event, interviewed three people,  and only showed the ribbon cutting. What is their problem?" Well... let's have a class and call it journalism 101. Better yet, let me show you how to stack a newscast. There is only so many minutes in a newscast. Each story gets between 1:10 and :15 - :30. Guess how much the non violent stories get? Yeah. Just accept it and move on.

15. "We need to write a press release." Yes, we do. But know that a press release is NOT the story. We do not tell the entire story there - we want to wet their appetite and sell the "why it's important" factor. But.. then again... just let me do my job.

16. "Why did you write that script in all caps, and add dots and back slashes? That's weird." Sooo... our radio/tv friends that work as our emcees. Yeah.. it's called writing in broadcast style.. but again.. just let me do my job.

17. "Let take a picture next to this thing and send it to the paper to print." Umm... a photo release (press release) of you standing next to a thing and accepting a check? Oh.. definitely.. that will make the front page.

18. "Here are the pictures I took of the event. You can use these for a story." Taking a second to scan the photos... dark... grainy... blurry... Uh... thanks.

19. " I can't seem to get my email to go through. Since you are in marketing and know more about technology, can you help?" 
Do I even need to dignify this with an answer?

20. Finally... my favorite one - "I'm so excited to be working with you. You know, I minored in marketing in college. So if you need any help with anything, like.. writing or if you need me to take the interviews with the media, it's right up my alley."

Yeah... I'll pass. 

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