Sunday, October 14, 2012

Understanding Educated Gambling

As an entry level position to PR, I found myself typing up a forecast by a major Public Relation's firm for a major pharmaceutical company of what life would be like in the year 2000. Market research predictions included telephones with monitors that could help you see people while you talked, fax machines that could transmit information over telephone wires, microwave ovens for reducing food defrosting time from hours to minutes and other devices that have certainly come to pass. In the lifestyle area, predictions proved less valid. Not only would Americans be enjoying longer lives, it foretold, but they would have shorter work weeks, more vacations and overall, a more leisurely lifestyle. An iota of truth, but mostly wishful thinking when we read 2005 front pages.
I will always remember being called to account because the final document the Client saw had several typos. Presentation counts in this field.
PR firms attempt to influence the major media who in turn help persuade viewers, listeners and readers to think or act in a particular way. The people who enter the profession and those in the media usually have a gift of gab, a facility with the written word, a decent IQ and a certain love affair with risk.
Fortune tellers don't make much money. But most PR firms charge a substantial amount of money to present their client, product or service in a positive light to the media. People are continuously reporting polls or surveys as if they are fact, when, in truth, often the questions asked are the reason for the results tendered. Trends are so swift these days, just when buzz begins, another bee is buzzing a different tune.
Here is the PR agency drill. A brainstorming session consists of several persons who try and identify a project, tag line or campaign hook that will capture the right response from the media while delivering the Client message. Then a qualified person writes the plan, another person interfaces with the Client and still other people "pitch" the media. Often times in large firms, a separate TV department usually has close ties with the producers of various programming. You can pitch the same story to ten different venues, and come up with ten different responses. It is an expensive process.
Since everyone is trying for the biggest hits first, and the spots are truly limited, the pitchers have to be focused and persistent. Then it becomes a numbers game. The more balls you throw, the more likely you are to get a strike. The more strikes you pitch, the more likely your team will win, and the competition will be beaten. The more consistent your story, the more believed you will be. The more you can afford to spend, the more you get to use credible spokespeople to help tell your story. It is a numbers game.
So by all means pitch "Oprah" first if you have a story that will hug her heart. Next work the syndicated morning shows. Then try the syndicated writers at the major news services when your news is hard and important. Talk to AOL when you have the money, or put it in the movie theatre, the newest venue for enlightening if not annoying a captive audience.
But you can also tell your story with incredible reach and exciting response if you
use syndicated articles publicity via a service which currently targets the Internet with your original article. Your message usually gets printed exactly as you tell it, or your captioned color illustration tells the story just the way you approved it. You've increased your chances of the public reading a product or service mention by making it more informational than promotional, and you've had the help of expert PR people with years of presentation skills behind them. Your story will stay on their editorial website for six months to a year, and you get quarterly usage reports to help impress you if you are the business owner or your Clients if you are an agency.
Best of all, the educated consumer gets to find you online and to learn something informational that can help them and their family live a better life. It seems likely that any marketer would find this a low-budget risk worth taking.

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