SECTIONS - Caught in the Crossfire
August 10, 2015

My View on Public Relations & The Press

This article has to be handled with a delicate balance. As a writer and producer, my successful acquisition of news and content is often based on my relationship with a public relations company.

My experience is that the larger the media company, the larger the expectation as to who will be interested in its news. Sometimes there is a very large disconnect when a large silicon manufacturer wants the general public press to hear about its latest chip.

These days we often have a leap between the general press and some well-known blog sites being treated like the press. We also sometimes have to look for the cool hipster sites that may be so obscure that the site only serves a micro community. Anyway, the point of the article is not to bash anyone, but to ask the question: Are you getting what you want, or what you said you want, when you do media outreach?

This is what I mean. Brand and stock awareness plays. Some media outlets are better for the general public and some are better for investors. You can make a lot of noise with one good article in the general press, but it’s often a blip in an ocean of news and, as they say, today’s news is tomorrow’s trash.

On the other hand, one good article can get you a lot of social attention. These days you should have an expectation that your PR company can play both news and social support. Trade press is trickier since so much is about blogs and social pickups. Some people have cult-like status, while others are reliable sources that people will read and never mention. Often I have heard people sing the praise of a site that would never mention them.

Now let’s get to the point. PR people do an amazing job of getting to the point of messaging. The what’s new and so what questions answered by many of us without the aid of PR could make a room of partygoers have narcolepsy, while a well-honed message can sound like Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

However, once that message is delivered, how do you keep it moving freshly through the news? Every once in a while I see a business story that stays fresh for weeks at a time. From Bloomberg to CNBC to the public radio marketplace, the story gets fresh coverage. Normally these stories are covered because they reveal a general trend, but they start with the people who are in the trade seeing the game changer.

That includes stories like fleet management with UBI’s on a leased truck, or drones being used to monitor a pipeline in a remote area known for hijackers. The point is, they show something new in the way things are used and not just the fact that something is new. While these are case studies, they indicate a trend line.

Now here is where things can get confused.

The trades are normally the best at telling the story of change and why the case study is part of a trend. Yet the PR firms are often told by their clients that the goal is coverage by the general press, and they don’t get to optimize the trade press. Here are the things I wish the clients would do when evaluating the public relations messaging efforts:

• track the inquiries;

• track the results of the discussions;

• track the impact on trend lines; and

• analyze the impact of the news on the web traffic.

Most importantly, don’t make this a quarterly or project report, but a trending report. Press releases and media coverage should be like the adaptation of product life cycles. You should be tracking the impact on the entire brand and not a specific product release after the initial campaign.

Maintaining good will requires more than a media blitz. I know many agencies that can do this well, but need their customer commitment. My advice is to track the inquiries and resolution as well as the press releases.

Carl Ford is CEO and community developer of Crossfire Media (

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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