Slow Public Relations

Simply the sound of it makes me feel funny. I understand that some situations require a little time to compose an appropriate response, or that the timing for a response might not be immediate, but to me that is “thoughtful public relations,” not slow. Hell, if someone called my PR work slow I’d immediately look at how I need to change what I am doing. But that is exactly what Gregory Galant titled his article, “What companies need to know about “slow” PR” and you know what, he was right.


I have not had the opportunity to work with a large enough public relations firm that would give me unlimited mass-blast tools, so I have always depended on personalized approaches to pitching media. In general, it has worked. Yeah, it takes time to find reporters covering a specific beat, and then to read enough of their articles to decide whether or not he/she would be interested, but the process makes the reporters a person to me.

In a lot of ways, when I do finally send the pitch, it’s as if I already knew them. One time I contacted a woman who wrote for the New York Times and when I got her on the phone she was surprised I had sent her an email directly because she did not publicize her email address, and it required me to really look around and find it. She knew I was serious about this pitch going to her as a writer and not simply because she had an email address that ended in @nytimes.com.

Galant said,

Anyone today can build meaningful relationships through real human interactions globally using technology.

That’s the awesome part about PR, I’m paid to do that and I should work to build those resonating connections before the skill is lost in the masses of automated email and @ mentions.

 

SoundCloud: In the toolbox

Today, my co-worker told me that one of our company’s new hires mixes his own music. (Read: Musical mash-ups in the electronic genre of music) When I asked if I could hear some of it, my co-worker sent me a link from the new-hire’s SoundCloud account.

If you aren’t familiar with SoundCloud, (I’m ashamed to admit I was unaware of it before this happened) it’s a social website where users can record, create or upload music and share it. My first response was to be mildly impressed at the new-hire’s talent. My second response was to think how cool it is to have a social site based solely around music and my third response was disappointment that I didn’t think of a social music network first.

I suppose that’s how all new inventions are created. What is that one saying; You don’t have to be smarter than everyone else, you just need to be a day earlier.

That’s definitely true when it comes to things like Chia pets, but when something like MySpace comes along the doors are thrown open and everyone is on the same day. At that point the race is to do the same thing, but better. Thus, MySpace gave way to Facebook and Hotmail to Gmail.

Sadly, I’m not inventive enough to spend my whole life trying to create the next big thing, but I am creative enough to discover new ways to use them. SoundCloud might just stay a tool I never really bring out of my toolbox, but it’s there and I’d like to figure out a way to use it, even if it is simply to decide the new-hire was a good pick.

The Dark Knight Rises Shooting: Great and Awful PR

The Aurora theater shooting during The Dark Knight Rises premiere is devastating. The incident will, no doubt, spark bitter discussions of gun laws and emergency preparedness. Despite that, the immediate lesson has been a sober reminder of the delicate balance of using social media as a public relations tool.

I first heard about the shooting from NPR on my drive to work. The statement was short, devoid of details: “There was a shooting at the midnight premier of the new Batman movie in Colorado.” I shook my head, frustrated at the thought, then turned my car off and headed into the office.

I knew a bunch of my co-workers were planning on seeing Dark Knight at midnight so, as I sat at my desk, I formed a related tweet in my head: “I will not be taking off my Beats all day because if anyone ruins The Dark Knight Rises for me there will be blood.”

Before sending it, I searched for the most popular Dark Knight hashtag. Everything related to it was about the Aurora shooting and I immediately realized two things. First; I could in no way post the tweet I had planned. Second; this shooting was a way bigger deal than I first realized.

As I followed the incident on Twitter I came across the tweet that has since drawn a huge backlash: “@celebboutique: #Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress ;)”

Wow.

No, really. That was my only response. Since then, the company has tweeted an apology stating its PR is not done in the US and the team was unaware of why Aurora was a trending topic. In the wise words of @AndyLevy, “It would’ve taken 5 seconds to check why Aurora was trending.”

In any client-facing role, but especially in public relations (social media, spokes person, press release, etc.), it is critical one understand the conversation he/she is joining. I think Celeb Boutique will survive this gaff because they are a clothing business, but other companies might not be so lucky.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Twitter also provided me with the link to a live streaming of the Aurora city press conference.  The press conference was executed perfectly. I am not in Colorado, and I know my friends who do live in Aurora are safe, but I still felt comforted by the press conference. Those who stood in front of the camera were well-spoken, appropriately emotional and right-on with their messages. Everything, from the 24-hour free counseling to the details about the incident early this morning and its current continuation, were open, honest and appropriate.

I hope those in Colorado are able to find comfort in what the city is able to offer at this time and my thoughts and prayers continue for those involved in this situation. My hope is that we come together to support the victims and prevent these situations from occurring again.

 

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