Gather around, brothers and sisters, for the PR Gospel lesson is about to commence. Today we will focus on the casual sin of buying lunches for journalists. Some PR people think this is a key to securing killer coverage. In truth, it is a blatant waste of time and money (and food, for that matter).
I ran my own PR agency for ten years and never bought a single meal for a journalist. I can’t say that this strategy was flawed – in the course of a decade, my clients wound up on page one of the Wall Street Journal, on “The Today Show” and “Good Morning America,” and even as far afield as the BBC, Agence France Presse and (back in the fun days of the USSR) TASS (and the party boys at the Kremlin were not ones for being wined and dined by capitalist flacks!).
Let’s consider some ground rules in dealing with the media. Serious and professional editors, reporters and producers feast on information that is delivered in crisp, succinct and well-cooked servings. Despite the grumblings of the media that they are barely paid enough, they are able to buy their own lunches. It is not the PR person’s job to feed them. This includes all aspects of the food-for-thought exchange, from sending munchies over the holidays (my December mailbox was overstuffed with atrocious chocolates and over-salted nuts, most of which were given away or trashed) to going the full blast with busboys tossing plates of soggy eggs at “press breakfasts.”
But you may ask: what kind of journalist gets snagged with free food? This situation reminds me of a trade media character I once knew. I’ll call him Ol’ Lunchbucket, because he perfected the art of mooching meals in exchange for press coverage. On the surface, you might think that such an exchange contradicts our lesson. In reality, it reconfirmed it: Ol’ Lunchbucket gave priority story placement to his mealtime buddies within the city where he worked. The industry in the rest of the country (which didn’t cover his lunch tab) was barely acknowledged outside of some artful rewording of press releases or rewrites of stories published in other magazines. Not surprising, Ol’ Lunchbucket’s publication had relatively little value for the industry he covered (since his writing placed an absurd concentration on a limited number of companies in a limited geographical sector while literally ignoring the rest of America). The man himself had his shenanigans roasted when an industry tribute of his career seemed to place a surplus of attention on his gluttony rather than his ability to break exclusive news (which, of course, is terrible PR for that guy – but that’s his woe).
As a journalist, I was once wined and dined by a software entrepreneur who was eager for ink. When several weeks passed without any coverage of his software program, he kept needling me with the inquiry: “What happened to the story we discussed OVER LUNCH?” The fact that he never gave me the information I truly needed to make the story happen (exclusive client testimonials, high-res screen shots) somehow didn’t sink in. He truly believed that an exchange was underway: one eggplant parmigiana lunch for 15 column inches of glowing coverage. To deal with those types of people, we’ll need to drop some bromide tablets in our communion cup.
(Phil Hall is the former president of Open City Communications, a New York PR agency, and former editor of PR News. His latest book “The New PR” will be released later this year from Larstan Publishing.)
Posted by Brian Connolly Thursday, January 4, 2007
As many of you know by now, we've had a few challenges here at Strumpette in the last few weeks. Suffice to say, we are going through a bit of a dark patch. A formal statement is forthcoming. Thank you all for your well wishes and support.
Anyway... with that said, here's a truism: it's always darkest before the dawn. Here's something that hints at an intensely bright future. Padma brings good karma.
Padma, the Sanskrit name for lotus flower, emerges fresh and clean from the dark waters in which it grows. A dear friend of Strumpette is launching a firm. Ana Lydia Ochoa, a public relations and marketing expert in the Hispanic market, today launched her full-service firm padma media & marketing in Los Angeles.
And how's this for promising? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the nation’s Hispanic population reached 41.3 million in 2004. And according to a study by Growth Strategies, Hispanics under the age of 20 number more than 12 million, or 38% of the total US Hispanic population. They compose 58% of all youth in Los Angeles, today, and will account for 80% within a few years.
Ochoa said there's a whole area that remains untapped for Latinos in the more affluent, more holistic and more organic demographic. "Look at the number of Hispanics shopping at Whole Foods supermarkets and Jamba Juice stores," she said.
padma is not limited to reaching U.S. Hispanics with Spanish-only communications programs. The firm also will provide a variety of services to reach the younger, hipper, and bilingual urban market such as, music-driven events, print and broadcast product-placements and celebrity-driven initiatives. This fills a huge need in the present PR services market. The large traditional firms today are not reaching out to the bilingual, professional and affluent trendsetters.
Ochoa brings a ton of hands-on experience to the launch of padma. Previously with the firm RLPR + Marketing/Sportivo, she managed the national media campaigns for Telemundo and Sears. Ana Lydia also led the regional Verizon Wireless account and provided strategic counsel to Nike, the National Honey Board and The California Milk Processors Board. Prior to joining RLPR, Ochoa spearheaded the successful launch of IKEA North America’s Hispanic initiative, managing the regional spokesperson campaign for Foster Farms, the west-coasts largest poultry supplier. Ochoa also managed key national and regional accounts, including, AT&T, McDonald’s Lo McXimo de la Musica, Washington Mutual Bank, Mervyn's, General Mills Trix Circo Mundial, Jafra Cosmetics International and City of Hope.
More good news! There's already been a rush for padma's services. padma recently launched Americas United Bank, California’s first Hispanic-owned and operated bank to open its doors in California in over thirty years.
Bottom line: There's no PR pretension or flimflam with padma. It's just an honest careful service helping companies bridge to a burgeoning marketplace. Hope, new beginnings, good karma... Now THAT'S PADMA!
On Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 7:41 AM, Ronn Torossian, President and CEO of 5WPR, emphatically promised that he was going to sue us. No real reason, he was just irritated by our teasing him about getting in bed with pornographer Joe Francis. Anyway, Ronn gave his obscenity-laced word that we'd see the complaint in 72 hours. It's now late by
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