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No News is Good News – How Themes Drive PR Results

No News is Good News – How Themes Drive PR Results

Jordan Chanofsky, CEO

A recent PR Week interview with Charles Arthur, The Guardian’s technology reporter, confirmed something that many of us already realize: that the value of press releases is diminishing (noticed I didn’t say that press releases were becoming obsolete).

According to Charles, companies have found new and perhaps better ways to reach reporters.  Twitter, blog posts and other social media vehicles are becoming the preferred communication methods between reporter and PR person.

This won’t shake anyone’s boots. But some of the more subtle comments that he made hit home, and reminded me of other times I’ve heard reporters talk about PR.

They related to content.  And for years, I’ve trudged through lecture after lecture listening to reporters bemoan the way in which info is neutralized via mass emails that reach many but impact very, very few.

Now, I’m not saying that press releases won’t maintain some value.  And mass emails will likely continue for some time.  Frankly, I tell clients to continue producing press releases because, for many reasons, they still need to.

But I emphasize to them that if they want to truly help achieve the company’s goals, like valuation, market development, customer tractions or whatever else, the PR team and the clients’ management must work together to build an arsenal of thematic ideas that will resonate with the media.

This content must serve two purposes. The first is to provide a creative platform that drives stories or links client info to articles being written by a reporter.  However, the story is about an industry, a trend or an issue, not necessarily the client.

The second is to present opportunities where the PR agent can associate timely industry news and a thematic idea with a related story for the reporter, in which the client also plays a role.

The lesson in PR is that clients pay the bills, but our customer is the media. And, while my clients don’t always like to hear this, our best approach is not about them, at least not at first.  It’s about the bigger story idea. It’s about the right content, the correct timing and the best match (i.e with the right reporter and publication).

Story first, client second.  Once we understand how our story ideas (not clients) benefit reporters, their interest, their beats, their hot buttons, and act on this insight, everyone wins, including the clients, because they gain access to richer and better placed articles with more relevance to the article and audience.

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