I don’t get them everyday, but today I received three emails from assorted PR agencies that kind of struck a nerve. I’m not technically in public relations, but I am heavily involved in communications so I know a thing or two about what works and what really sucks. Don’t worry…this isn’t going to be a “Bash PR” post. Well, at least not totally. Instead, I’m hoping I can offer some feedback to those in the PR profession who might listen and take heed.
Here we go.
First question you need to ask yourself is:
Does this contact actually want to be connected with our agency?
Email #1 was a very brief email from one agency’s Media Researcher (taking a guess that this is a “fresh out of college” type position) who asked:
Could you tell me if this e-mail is still valid as a contact for you at Alchemy of Soulful Work? It keeps bouncing.
Thanks so much.
If you find my email address is bouncing then go to the trouble to visit my site and send an email to my new address, why not invest a wee bit of time to building a relationship? This Media Researcher just missed a golden opportunity to understand what types of communications I’d like to receive. Or even ask if I’d like to continue to receive emails on behalf of their clients. (Ironic sidenote: I no longer use firstname.lastname@example.org because of all of the PR blast spam I got at this address.)
Just like any other type of email communication (like newsletters), I don’t mind receiving them when the content is fascinating and important to my work. But don’t just assume because you have my email address, that I’m a captive audience who is automatically interested in whatever your client is doing. Apply some permission-based email marketing practices and you might discover better ROI because I’ll be a willing participant in your media outreach.
Relatedly, another question is:
How is my client going to make you look good?
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the awesomeness, amazingness, incredibleness, stupendousness of your client. He or she (or it, if we’re talking about a brand) is paying you to promote their greatness. But no matter how terrific your client is, no blogger or online influential cares if this marvelousness doesn’t rub off on them in some way. So your job is to connect the dots and make the case for why I should take time to read their book or schedule an interview. Deep down, I really don’t care about all the great things your client does if it doesn’t help me achieve my own goals.
And again, remember its not just me you’re pitching. You’re asking me to connect you with my friends, colleagues, readers…in other words, my own social network. Clearly demonstrate what’s in it for me and I’ll be more likely to want to help you.
Finally, the big question you have to ask is:
Why should you want a relationship with me, my agency, and my client?
For the love of all things holy, stop thinking short-term, small ball. That game played out fine ten or twenty years ago but its all changed now. If you’re trying to drive results through cold, impersonal email blasts that don’t address me by name (email works different than fax), include other email addesses in the To: line (yes, unbelievably I know the other email addresses that received the blast), and offer no opt-out provision (which is kind of breaking the law), then have fun on the ride down. I guess that means your client is riding shotgun.
Time to wake up and realize the PR game is now played through relationships.
And it’s not as if these questions are just for PR folks. They’re applicable to customer experience, marketing, and sales folks as well. Just focusing on your side of the action without considering the relationship with the folks on the other side squanders the potential connection. And in this case, everyone suffers.
photo credit: tashland (via Flickr)