In PR it’s ‘what’ rather than ‘who’ you know

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We’ve all heard the expression, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

In the PR world, of course, relationships and contacts do matter but times have changed. And the key word here is ‘time.’ We just don’t have enough of it. For journalists, in particular, time is a luxury afforded by few. The majority of media outlets have experienced significant paring of resources in recent years to the extent that journalists are having to deliver more content in less time (and often for less money).

This has meant that the journalistic profession has become more transient in the past decade with the result that ‘relationships’ are more difficult to forge. But let’s consider the context of 24/7 media.

Firstly, it’s generally via electronic communication. Many journalists simply don’t have time for inbound phone calls or if they do, the conservation is normally along the lines of, “I’m really busy, so could you send over an email and we’ll take a look.”

Secondly, a PR person may have known a journalist for years but never actually met them. The days of dining out are long gone for the vast majority of journalists (not to mention PR people), so the fact that you once had a beer with Fred Smith from the Fulchester Times, means nothing in terms of one’s ability to deliver a pitch that results in coverage.

Many businesses believe, incorrectly, that the more contacts a PR agency claims to have, the more exposure it would receive if it gave them a contract. This is a fallacy and companies should be wary of agencies that put a lot of store by this.

The key area of focus should be around an agency’s ability to think. One of the most powerful tools in PR is knowledge and the ability to put together a valuable thought based on that knowledge. Instead of answering what relationships they have, or don’t have, they should be answering questions about how they would approach a specific piece of news. Or what trends are going on in the world around them that would make for valuable conversation in relation to said company. The ability to think quickly and provide value in any situation is exponentially more important than treating a journalist to a free lunch.

When it comes to news and producing great articles it’s about being informed, doing your homework, and finding the right person to collaborate with. And that doesn’t happen just because of a “relationship”. There is due diligence involved – time spent on research, fully educating yourself about the information you have at hand and finding out who will really be interested in it. It is the job of a PR professional to tell the right story to the appropriate journalist.

So the over-riding message from PR St Albans, Blackbird Communications is for companies to ask what your PR professional or agency, can deliver. Don’t focus on who they know, focus on what they know, and how they can execute and provide value for your business.

If your business is looking for some PR support, please contact us.

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