PR: It’s never been about who you know. It’s always been about knowing what makes NEWS

Posted: July 6, 2009 in Uncategorized
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No knock on the good work of the publicists and firms cited in yesterday’s New York Times, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in three decades of 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”.  Today, this includes tweets, outreach to alpha-bloggers, etc.  It’s all about the merit of the story you’re telling and the way you pitch its news value.  If it’s not a good story, I don’t care who you know or how many times a day you tweet.  Especially in the digital culture, 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.   Just like in advertising, it’s not about the big technology (digital video, etc.) you’re using, but the big idea you’re selling.

Other things I learned:

> The best clients make the best 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.  Clients typically received the PR they deserved. It was true 30 years ago when Commodore tried to challenge Apple 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.

>Know 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 inauthentic.   There are countless examples.


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