Having previous talked about the important responsibility of influencers and journalists in helping PR evolve, this time I want to focus on a quite different (but quickly growing) group.
In a sense, I’d describe them as “every other bloody agency type in the universe.”
And it starts with a bubble.
The marketing sweet spot
We live in an age of marketing convergence. Whether you call yourself brand, content, influencer, communications, PR, digital marketing – it’s easier than ever to see the kind of work we should be doing.
Great audience identification + great creation + great, channel agnostic amplification/ engagement, all aimed toward strategic, measurable outcomes.
However, just because you suddenly realise this is important, that doesn’t mean you can just get on and do it.
Even in my own inbox, I find an increasing trend of Search agencies, Content Marketing agencies and others sending me generic, lifeless pitches flaunting impotent inforgraphics as if it bears any relation to my writing — let alone the evidence of my general interests.)
I totally get it – you love our tasty links. But you are failing at PR in the kind of violent horrible ways a half competent PR account exec learns in their first few weeks.
This matters because it is further crowding influencers’ inboxes and neutering the whole channel and whole valuable opportunity of the email pitch.
The good fight
There’s also an increasing misalignment of objectives and respect here. When you pitch an idea to someone who writes for a living, or introduce them to a new business they might want to learn more on, you’re helping them do their job better.
You are collaborating toward a result that is of real value to readers somewhere down the line. (And if you’re not, that’s why you aren’t getting written about.)
If you are trying to just get a link out of the equation, your transparent agenda often crumples in seconds. Your target’s objective is not to create links to things. It’s to talk about interesting things.
And all the while, you further undermine the value of every other email pitch out there with your careless flood of noise.
One of the things that has equipped good PRs so capably for the modern marketing age is that we have grown up fighting for great ideas.
In the old days of media relations, we knew that our pitch and the ideas we suggested to clients had to be impeccably designed for an audience or they would appear nowhere and simply waste everyone’s time.
We had to earn every iota of attention, sparring with journalists who were cynical even then. And it made us scarred monsters of editorial creation and engagement. That is what good PRs are bringing to the table in the modern marketing landscape.
And that is the price of our reputation being paid when imposters gumptly waltz into the competition and hurl their wasted bodies on the attention of real influencers.
One for all
Now, and this is important: I’m not saying it’s none of anyone else’s business. Quite the opposite. If these industries will join us in raising their standards and strategy, we can all join hands and walk blithely into the sun.
This is why I’m delighted that #prstack (Disclaimer: we ran this campaign with Stephen Waddington and our client Prezly) topped ProductHunt just recently. It’s a free, crowdsourced service to help anyone in PR find better tools and practices for their work.
Such demand and attention on a non-PR venue gives me hope that those from our sister marketing disciplines and beyond are realising there are better ways to run your PR in 2015.
All for one
The sad bit is that anyone in PR knows how difficult it is to reach the long tail of agencies in this business and instil widespread change. They aren’t reading this, they don’t care about PR spam or other dumb anachronisms, they’re just getting on with things.
And if they are hard to reach, I can only imagine the trouble we’ll have getting to the other permutations of agency out there. But hey, maybe this will be a start.
Even if this only reaches the people who shouldn’t be pitching me (and probably a few of you) pointless infographics every week, I’ll take that small victory for now.