Throwing Bricks At Some PR ‘Professionals’

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

As an out-of-home network (digital or otherwise), digital software company, mobile provider or an agency or media company with some great creative on digital screens, do you ever wonder why your news doesn’t get mentioned on DailyDOOH and maybe any other blog or website worth their salt either?

Sometimes, of course, it’s admittedly a matter of time – we as editors just simply run out of it, and just have to pick and choose what to write about.

But have you looked at your public relations or media relations people lately?

Before I go on, I have to apologize to the many great PR and media relations professionals out there who go out of their way to answer our queries for further information or find a way to get it for us. And I know it’s not easy, because I’ve personally worked in PR on both the client side and the PR company side of the business.

But one of the first things that one is taught in the PR business or PR courses is that you go out of your way to find the answers for the media. Either you know the answers or you find the person at the client who can answer. And you do it immediately, not a week later!

We’re not talking here about things that the client might want or need to keep confidential, but just the answers to simple questions: What network is running the campaign? What agency placed the media? Whose software is the network using? Can you provide a JPG today to illustrate the DOOH product or the campaign running on same?

I hate to tell you this, Mr./Ms. Client, but there are a number of PR people that I’ve run into that simply aren’t doing what I presume is the job for which you’ve hired them. This isn’t peculiar to the DOOH sector. I’ve run into it other business sectors as well.

But let’s look at several scenarios that we run into – past and present – which are all the more annoying when for a daily publication than a weekly or monthly:

  • We ask your PR person some questions. Rather than his or her finding out the answer or, even better, arranging to have the client speak to us directly, it’s a case of, “Here’s somebody you can contact at the client.” What a time waster! If that’s the case, why not put the client’s name on the press release instead of yours? It would save a lot of time. (Of course, you might actually have to do the work or even work overtime to find out the answers for us yourself!)
  • We ask your PR person three questions. He/she answers one and simply ignores the other two. (Is there a reading deficit?) Back and forth we go, go, go.
  • We ask your PR person for an email address or phone number at the client source so that we can check a point if necessary. He or she does everything possible to avoid getting it for you, usually not because the client doesn’t want you to have it – he or she is usually happy to talk – but because the PR person wants total control, yet can’t answer the questions himself/herself.
  • The PR company actually puts the client’s name is on the press release as the contact – but that person is conveniently traveling or on vacation and can’t be reached. Why not check if they’ll be available for the next few days or put someone else’s name there as a contact – or depending on the news, maybe even delay releasing it until the contact is back?
  • PR people often try to avoid mentioning the other companies that may be involved in the same news story, essentially giving out a half-story. This isn’t usually a major problem in the DOOH sector, except when it comes to awards. If there are three winners in the DOOH sector, don’t try to pretend that your client is the only winner. At least mention the others, even if it’s only one sentence at the end. We haven’t the inclination or time to do three stories on the same topic.

While I’m ranting: PR people occasionally send out a release and expect us to write about the client just because they exist. Again, this doesn’t happen often in the DOOH sector, but news sites do look for a news peg.

And again, while it doesn’t happen often, worst of all is the PR person or media relations person (we can’t call them professionals) who just ignore our several requests (think NASCAR Hall of Fame) or get back to us weeks later.

May I also give little personal notes to you, the client?

  • If you find that your name isn’t used in an article we write after your giving the PR people a ‘wonderful’ quote, don’t blame the messenger. Give them a quote to enclose that means something: why you are making this move; why you want to expand into this sector; or something else relevant. Because I for one, if at all possible, avoid like a plague a quote that says, “We’re pleased (or “thrilled”, “happy” or “excited”) to have so-and-so as our partner, on our staff, or whatever. That goes without saying.
  • And, please, put a contact name on your website, and make it easy to find. After searching high and low this week for someone to speak to or give us some information recently, we sent a general message to the company asking for the name of a PR contact and got back this message signed by an individual that said, in part, “Unfortunately, due to the high volume of requests, we are not able to accommodate your request.”

Are you listening, ESPN?

One Response to “Throwing Bricks At Some PR ‘Professionals’”

  1. handshake Marketing Says:

    Hahaha. Great article. It sounds like some people are just a little too comfortable in their job positions. If you offered up the chance for my company to be reported on DailyDOOH and I dodged it I would surely be fired.

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