Deviating from Storytelling Fodder ...


press hat prLiterally thousands of PR blogs dot – some might say clog – the social media landscape.

When I started Ishmael’s Corner in 2008, I concluded the last thing the world needed was another digital pulpit spewing about embargoes, e-mail blasts to reporters, and the like.

Instead, this blog has strived to address storytelling in business communications, a concept that can be counterintuitive to many executives, particularly those coming from engineering orientations.

With that said, I’ve decided that every 88 posts or so, it’s OK to make an exception to the rule (and perhaps trigger some positive karma according to Chinese numerology).

With the caveat dispensed –

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the often contentious relationship that exists between influencers – defining this category broadly to include reporters, editors, bloggers, etc. – and the PR community.

You can count on a Michael Arrington diatribe about the PR profession every quarter, leaving the reader to conclude that without those pesky PR people, TechCrunch would be more efficient and world hunger would be solved.

Given PR’s focus on specific clients and a media property’s agenda to cover broad industries and issues, there’s bound to be some choppy interactions.

That’s OK.

It goes with the territory.

If the influencer doesn’t perceive a given client as relevant or a client delivers special treatment to certain influencers, it’s bound to cause bad feelings.

Is there a word that describes a relationship as being both symbiotic and adversarial (and don’t say “frenemy”)?

This dynamic existed when I entered the profession and I suspect it will still be there long after I exit stage left.

megafone prBut here’s the part that bothers me and cuts to the core of relationship-building 101.

Too often, PR professionals only reach out to influencers when they need something in the form of:

* Cover my client

* Meet my client.

* Talk to my client.

Even without the aid of data visualization, one starts to see a trend emerge.

Consider for a moment what happens in everyday life if the only time a person contacts you is when they want something from you; i.e., an introduction, an e-mail address, money (sons and daughters don’t count).

It’s not exactly endearing or enduring. And it definitely doesn’t motivate you to put your own energy into building the relationship.

When PR professionals fall into this trap, it limits how the relationship evolves.

But if you make a point of contacting influencers specifically when you DON’T need something, now you’ve got the basis of genuine relationship-building.

Of course, the information you’re sharing needs to be relevant – better yet, relevant and not in the public domain – to what the influencer tracks.

If the PR profession jumped on this bandwagon, we would go a long way toward resolving what the warden in Cool Hand Luke called, “a failure to communicate.”

P.S. Tom Foremski wrote in SiliconValleyWatcher about the importance of hyperlinks in e-mail interactions with media properties, which is worth a read and ties to the big picture of helping the influencer do his or her job.


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