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The two sides of managing client’s media expectations

danger1Expectations-300x206By Leo Valiquette

A beloved alumnus of our shop, Danny Sullivan, once wrote on the subject of managing client expectations:

“Every story has a natural news value and, while it’s important for PR people to understand what this value is, it’s even more important that the client understands it too. Without mutual agreement about what level of media traction can be expected, you’re flying blind and all too likely to crash.”

And our namesake tells this story:

“One of the first of what I like to call ‘Francis’s favourite fictions,’ or ‘Everything I know that’s wrong about PR I learned from technology company executives,’ was a line from the CEO of one of the very first tech companies I pitched when I originally ventured out on my own in the early 1990s.

“‘I want to be on the front page of the Ottawa Citizen tomorrow morning,’ he said.

‘I was a lot younger, thinner and more intemperate in those days, so I replied, ‘Okay. Go home and shoot your wife tonight.’”

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The eternal struggle to balance process with results

car-mired-in-mudBy Leo Valiquette

Back in the day when I was a full-time journalist, I would often rouse the ire of hired PR guns by daring to contact their clients directly.

I mean, the sheer gall I displayed by responding with such enthusiasm to whatever pitch or media release they had sent my way.

As a busy hack trying to pump out a dozen news briefs a day, it only made sense for me to take what seemed to be the most direct route to get a source on the phone as quickly as possible. If I had to go through a middle man, then fine; if not, why bother?

And here I am today, one of those PR guns, often sharing the bottom of a client’s media release with one of the client’s own communications people. Who should the media call? Either one of us is fair game. In the end, it’s the result that matters. I am much more concerned with the thud value of a pile of media coverage than nitpicking over who the media called to arrange the interview.

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Why my pony tail ain’t my brand

This is the next entry in our “Best of” series, in which we venture deep into the vault to replay blog opinion and insight that has withstood the test of time. Today’s post hails from February 2011. We welcome your feedback.

By Francis Moran

One day last week, I tweeted the message you see to the lower right because I was tickled by the email that came in. In my haste, however, I added a snappy hashtag and thereby made the same common mistake I often accuse marketers — even branding experts — of making.

The prospect who sent me that email remembered how I look. I will be the first to admit that a red — okay, rapidly greying — pony tail, full-but-tidy beard and what used to be a curly moustache do tend to set me apart from the average corporate consultant, even in the less-buttoned-down realm of marketing. Based on how I look, he was able to easily remember who I am.

He wasn’t, however, looking for a pony-tailed, bearded guy; he was, in fact, looking for a PR firm. And, because of whatever impression about my abilities as a PR guy that I had left with him during a past engagement, he immediately thought of me.

In that nutshell, then, you have the difference between branding and visual identity, something that, as I said at the opening, many marketers and not a few so-called branding experts often confuse.

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Your local newspaper may be your hardest to crack, and least relevant, media outlet

By Leo Valiquette

I remember as a boy the time one of my uncle’s chickens laid an egg shaped like a squat bowling pin. It was quite the thing — it got him a picture and a cutline in the local paper. My mother still has that worn and yellowed clipping in a photo album.

Of course, the question is whether that one-off bit of media attention would have brought new business to the door if my uncle had been a commercial egg farmer trying to grow his market share. There is seldom a downside when serendipitous events entice the media to come knocking with little or no effort on your part. But when you are undertaking a formal PR program that requires an investment of resources, time and money, a stack of media clippings are of little value if they didn’t put your story in front of an audience with the potential to grow your business.

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May roundup: What does it take to get technology to market?

By Leo Valiquette

Last month’s content lineup featured great posts that shattered common myths about finding and defining a customer base and how to market an app, as well as insights on securing a patent and recognizing a great CEO. We also looked at the genius of Audi’s Spock vs. Spock ad campaign and some of the weak links in Canada’s commercialization ecosystem. And of course, there was plenty of sage advice for neuromarketers and strategists alike.

In case you missed any of it, here is a handy recap of our posts, as ranked by the enthusiasm of our readers:

May 13: The marketing genius of Audi’s Spock vs. Spock, by Leo Valiquette

May 15: Design by committee is just plain wrong, by Francis Moran

May 27: The third way that government can, and must, support Made-in-Canada tech, by Leo Valiquette

May 21: Why shouldn’t it be made in Canada?, by Leo Valiquette

May 07: If you’re so afraid of spilling the beans that no one knows you have any …, by Leo Valiquette

May 02: Startup Canada Communities seeks to build regional economies ‘from the inside out’, by Francis Moran

May 23: ‘Everyone’ is not your customer, by Francis Moran

May 09: 6 small business statistics that may surprise you, by Brent Barnhart, Chamber of Commerce

May 08: Accelerator metrics in Canada (or anywhere), by Jesse Rodgers

May 14: The business of evolution: We’re not as clever as we think we are, by Bob Bailly

May 16: Fiction: Media relations is ‘free advertising’, by Francis Moran

May 30: To sponsor or not to sponsor: 6 questions to consider, by Leo Valiquette

May 22: So you’ve developed an app … now how do you market it?, by Peter Hanschke

May 28: Selling an invention to a patent examiner, by David French

May 29: Everyone has competition, by Francis Moran

May 06: Peeling away the layers of a great CEO, by Denzil Doyle

Image: May 2013 Calendar Printable

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