No knock on the good work of all the techie publicists and firms for which they toil, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in many years doing PR in Silicon Valley it is this: it’ not about your contacts, your shmoozing gene, or the technology involved in getting your message out. It’s all about the merit of the story you’re telling and the way you pitch its news value.
I don’t care who you know, who you met for breakfast at Buck’s or with whom you having a drink at Il Fornaio, it’s still about your chops for recognizing a trend and how to sell into it. It’s still about your instincts for knowing if and how what your pitching relates to something topical. It’s about knowing news. Not unlike advertising, it’s not about the big technology you’re using but the big idea you’re selling.
Couple of other things I learned:
Great clients make great agencies. Good shops have always had a knack for picking winners (most of the time). See: Regis McKenna. Less-than-stellar clients were never made into stars by hot agencies. Ultimately, clients typically received the PR they deserved. It was true 30 years ago when Commodore tried to challenge Apple (they flunked) and it’s no less true today. I’ll refrain from the lipstick-on-a-pig metaphor, but it sure as hell is appropriate here.
The difference between buzz and fizz. Buzz is self-generating and it’s almost always associated with something of real value. Think Apple products. Fizz inevitably goes flat and it’s always associated with something of limited (if any) value. Stuff that’s contrived and phoney. There are countless examples. Hope you don’t work for one.