I always wish to hear these kind of statements from journalists….but alas, The Pursuit of Happiness continues. Friends, how many times has this statement ruined your day, your week or perhaps your month? Allow me to share a heartbreaking tale about a young aspirant who always had something to look forward to.
“There was a young man who went by the name of Jack. Everyday he attended his daily chores like going to media rounds, doing extensive media mapping, effectively sending out extremely simple reports in the approved rocket science formats, etc. One fine day, he thought that Client Goddess has finally seen all his sincerity and hard work and she herself called him up and told him exactly what he expected.
With his trembling hands, he held on to the phone. His heart filled with delight and glee on listening to the beautiful sound in which Goddess said…Wow!!! Now that’s a front page story. She explained how she expected more out of him but still ready to relieve the pressure so that he wouldn’t have to work like an ass to gain her blessings. She gave him a story idea which would work like magic with his journalist comrades (soon to be enemies). He would be able to get front page stories and play with toys and would be pioneer, a statesman in his contemporary DNA age.”
Unfortunately for our new to the club Jack, he was unable to use this magic formula for the betterment of his environment and save his world using the marvelous story idea. Jack still had to work like an ass for this story idea to please this Client Goddess.
On numerous occasions I’ve witnessed my bosses shivering on thinking of a suitable reply to be given to the client which is always eventually based on truth…”Boss, this is not a good story idea or event, I don’t see any coverage coming out of it”. But they have unfortunately inherited a phobia or to never say ‘no’ as soon as they got into the industry. The differences is that they think they have become a Ghandivadi of the PR industry by following this practice. There are so many things that we work day in and day out without even realising the amount of time and energy positioned on something which will help us derive very very special and worthy snippets. We can do something really substantial with all our time spent on these mindless, meaningless pitching and give some real PR value to our clients.
Smash!!! I love what I wrote in the above line. It’s really good, but if only we are allowed to. Anyways, being a PR professional, I am trained to carry & boast alternatives. Let me now site some typical examples which we are regularly tangled:
1. Corporate Social Responsibility: Corporates, I am aware how important it is to practice CSR. You develop good relations with all intended target audiences. It helps you to gain a good hand with the government. Investor relations are kept in good spirit as you are contributing to the society. Consumers understand that you, out of many, think about the common man and they are happy. Yes all good but doing a CSR activity every month….I mean let somebody else be the saint. The catastrophic phenomenon has been around since 4/5 years now. Let’s see some perspective with this aspect.
In a meeting the client shares with me and my boss.
Client: “…..(name not published on request)……, we are coming up with this new thing and its very environment friendly, it would aim to teach students as well. Yes I do admit that other corporate have also moved in this stride but we’ve observed they have involved less no. of students and we are involving many more. I understand the idea is not new but we plan to invest in this for five years. So we want good coverage around this”.
Observe the responses to the info shared by the client. My thoughts on the responses and comments in bracket:
“Oh that sounds of wonderful. (Without realizing it my boss has given a new meaning to the word wonderful). I don’t think we should have a problem in implementing a strategized plan on this. Although this is not a new idea (no stone is left unturned in terms of CSR ideas), we’ll still be able to derive some coverage out of it. Why isn’t it, Saurabh?”
And that’s it,,,, my world just collapses on this last statement.
Friends please excuse the sarcasm. The point I am trying to make is about always trying to explain to your clients how important it is to practice high-scale impactful CSR otherwise it’s of no use. Ideas like teaching a couple of underprivileged kids, growing a couple of trees are always good for an individualistic value appreciation but not at all meaningful from a corporate perspective. Still I do understand the unaided situation that many of us land in with persistent clients. For those kind of clients give a suggestion to club around 2-3 CSR initiatives and turn that around into a profiling opportunity. Some columns that should be able to suffice your clients and help you are:
a. The Economic Times, Career and Business life page
b. Business Standard, Social Enterprise Page.
c. The Financial Express, Corporate Voice
2. Appointments: Another one of those highly demanded properties that our respectful clients vouch for to be an easy placement. Unless it’s a CEO or a president of a big corporate, movements and appointments are hard to be placed even with amazing media relations. It would not be surprising that one of our clients asks us to get coverage on a change in its security setup.
Trying to offer and combine the appointment news with financial numbers and investment to increase the news value might surely help derive more out of the simple appointment news.
3. Product announcements: No, I don’t mean the launch of a bike, a car, a big pharma drug. I am talking about going through the horror of launching a completely advanced GSM paper. A breakthrough in the contemporary unfortunately not covered by any paper. Sometimes this also happens. The best thing to do in these situations is target the trade media. The trick might be to convince your clients for concentrating on special relationship building meetings and not seeing it though a coverage point of view. Convince him from the more futuristic view. These meetings always help in creating a pipeline for stories.
4. Advertising and marketing campaigns: Not too long ago I was asked to give a PR plan on my client’s small sponsorship in a big rock festival. Ya, I know you are thinking, this is just impossible. No client can be this unreasonable. Well, I was among you all who think in this fashion. Now I am a PR professional. Get it. What do you do in these situations? Well nothing, you can do some industry story participation on the subject but apart from that nothing.
We should all thank the afaqs, exchange4media, indiantelevision, and indiainfoline of the world who can come for our rescue in situations like these.
5. International News: Well, at least most of our clients are sensible enough not too expect anything out of these sorts. But for some select who suffer from this phobia as well I’ll try to give an alternative. It should be relatively easy to acquire a fair amount of coverage in case of a big international collaboration or a big international corporate setting up in India, but for the rest of them, work out a regular dispatch of information to the media without pushing for coverage on it. Suggest your client to be in regular touch with the media with an informative newsletter, which would also help you to monitor and be abreast of your client’s industry.
My apologies to all who religious expect this blog’s horizon to be very serious and always giving gyaans. This post is about an opinion and how we should ideally tackle all the tricky mud holes our clients create for us. I would expect some valuable additions to it as well.