PR Niblets

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Know Your Mark

One of my friends, Kelly O'Brien, was named a "Top Tech Communicator" by PRSourceCode in 2007 for her acumen in pitching technical stories and exemplary work with journalists.

I was happy for her ...

While at the same time secretly worried that if accolades were given for excellent work there might also be a designation for the opposite and a horror show pitch written by a young Steph Johnson might be lurking in the public domain ready to catapult me into the limelight for “the worst pitch on the planet.”

Last week I had an exchange that made me think about this issue again. I used the phrase "editorial opportunity' in a pitch to editor Alan Z. who had just written a blog about why these two words are like nails on a chalkboard to journalists. I didn’t use the term six times like the schlameil he called out in his post, but it was still a transgression.

Every flack worth their salt knows you never start off a conversation by saying “I’m calling to follow up a press release,” and you better as heck know what the outlet covers before you try and pitch your client’s shiniest widget. Beyond that we now have an arsenal of fantastic tools to make sure we don’t try to sell ice to an Eskimo.

It is our responsibility to take advantage of this data…

Before engaging in a dialogue, PR professionals should follow blog posts, check out tweets, investigate Facebook pages and read multiple articles so we understand the pet topics, axes to grind and basic philosophies of our journalists and can develop some kind of rapport with them.

This is not to suggest that personal knowledge is a substitute for what is crucially important in today’s competitive media environment - a strong story based on solid fact with credible third party endorsements, talking end users and an angle that will compel the readership of a particular outlet. However - and as most club bouncers will tell you - building a relationship is important. It won’t necessarily get your ugly friend past the velvet rope, but it could at least help get her closer to the front door!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Queuing up For Business

In our fifth month of business, we finally gave birth.

Our "child" -- Quu (

The back story: When building the platform for Feintuch Communications, we decided we were going to go far broader than simply delivering smart PR. We were going to look at clients and prospects holistically and understand their full range of needs -- including advertising, search, marketing, business development, investor relations, funding, partnerships -- the works (See our April 6 post: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times). Then, if it made sense, we would offer a range of value-added services (plus PR). As an entrepreneurially oriented firm, we're prepared to roll-up our sleeves and work to create a lasting client relationship.

We met Quu in the fourth quarter of 2008. CEO Joe Harb had developed a great technology platform for the radio advertising industry but lacked cash, focus and an insider's seat. We took Quu on as our first incubated client, providing business and marketing counsel and introductions to radio, advertising and market research industry insiders. I was given a seat on Quu's advisory board. We created introductions to various entities with access to needed capital.

And as this vortex of activity accelerated in the past two months, Quu completed its beta test of its technology with Sandusy Radio in Seattle. We prepared a release (, contacted the media, and this Monday, we delivered.

Starting with a story in key trade Radio and Records written by Kevin Peterson ( and with numerous additional stories starting to emerge ( and and, Quu's phone has been ringing off the hook.

Meetings have been scheduled with radio and TV station groups, contracts have been sent out and requests for information have come in from around the country including Oregon, Florida, Chicago and as far away as Australia.

As Quu prepares to close its next funding round, we're preparing to go to work for the company full-time as its marketing, PR and business counsel. We are proud parents knowing we have helped deliver an exciting business opportunity for our client and proof of concept for our own strategic relations firm.

Monday, May 11, 2009

When It Rains, It Pours

Ninety-nine point nine percent of us at one point in our lives have felt pressure, whether at work or at home, to get something done on a deadline. What I’ve noticed in my professional career is that some people LOVE pressure – they feed off of it. There is nothing like a reporter calling at 4:45 pm on a Friday with a 5:00 pm deadline wanting a question answered or a fact checked. You have to drop EVERYTHING and make those 15 minutes count! That can be very exciting to some.

On the other hand, when a new business proposal is due and you are still sifting through the RFP the night before and you’re missing the gym class you really wanted to go to, the excitement turns into panic and ultimately stress. Some people work better when the pressure is on and can even turn panic into constructive behavior. For those that have a hard time managing stress, here’s a great article from last month’s Fitness Magazine that helped me -

Personally, I don’t like stress. I try to avoid feeling stressed out at all costs. I’ve seen how neurotic behavior leads to pre-panicking and that stresses me out even more! To manage this, I schedule tasks for each hour of my day leaving room for the mini-crises that might pop up. But with all of the pressure to fulfill media requests on deadline, finish press releases, research data, schedule interviews, write memos and think about my next blog post (and that’s just a typical Friday), I better practice what I preach!

P.S. – Sorry about not posting until now, I was trying to meet all of my deadlines!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Falling Down on the Job

Falling Down On The Job
The Friday before last I injured myself by being a multi-tasking New York executive. I was rushing back to the office from an appointment, dispensing strategic counsel from my blackberry on what I thought was a dire PR crisis-in-the-making and I managed to step into a pothole and twist my left ankle.
The first surprising thing that happened was seven people rushed to gather me and my scattered belongings up off the pavement and stuff us into a cab. So much for the lore of Genovese Syndrome – New Yorker’s aren’t all dispassionate!
The second surprising thing was the phone calls I started getting after I returned to work the next Monday. Clients were “shocked to hear that I was back on my feet,” and wanted to know “if I had received their fruit baskets.” Shocked at the velocity of the empathy, I asked someone why they were so surprised that I was back at my desk.
I learned that one of my colleagues had accidentally alerted them that I had fallen down a manhole instead of tripping into a pothole!
A much more dramatic scenario than my inelegant swan dive into the middle of 57th street, but I liked it. I was a star!
Being a professional communicator I marveled at the responses this minor dramatization had incurred. A little razzle dazzle can go a long way.
The declining state of the financial markets could become a precipitous death spiral exacerbated by eroding software architectures unable to scale….
A new Italian restaurant could evoke Batali after the Tuscan farmhouse, before the Pecorino Panzanella and right on the cusp of Babbo …
Joining a social networking site can reunite you with high school sweethearts, enhance your job prospects and walk your dog when you can’t get home from the office in time …
The moral of the story? Massaging the truth is okay as long as we make sure we never actually beat the cr#p out of it!