Tomorrow morning a high school student is going to join me for a week to learn about public relations and marketing. Today as I looked around my messy office and contemplated what I hoped she’d take away from the experience, I realized that there were a few things I really wanted her to know.
1. Public relations is about relationships with your publics.
Oh, I know I’ve said this before. But it bears repeating because everyone gets so caught up in getting publicity – free interviews on television or the Web, mentions in the newspapers, book reviews – and, frankly, I think a lot of that is a waste of time.
I know for a fact that you can be highly successful without a single intentional media hit.
2. Word of mouth is still the best form of PR there is.
Of course there are experts who work hard to create “buzz,” to manipulate the public psyche and make the next big thing. They do it through multiple media and with a lot of money and strategy. But the truth is, what they’re really doing is manufacturing word of mouth. The more people talk about something the more interesting it seems.
Here’s the reality: Whether you generate buzz through money spent on advertising and media hits or through getting people you know to be your marketing foot soldiers, the principle is really the same. Get ’em talking about what you want them to talk about.
3. Public Relations is about the truth
You read that right. It applies across the board.
Don’t mislead. Don’t lie. If you do, it’ll bite you in the butt.
I wish more people understood this one.
4. What you think is newsworthy – especially if it’s about you – probably isn’t.
Think in terms of your audiences and know what your audiences need . . . not what you want them to need.
Really. We’re not nearly as interesting to others as we are to ourselves.
5. Be sincere.
I think information consumers today are quite sophisticated. They hate feeling like they’re being used. And they can smell a fake. Don’t give them a reason to plug their nose.
6. Pick the PR methods that make you the happiest.
There are countless ways to do public relations – to get your message out. So there has got to be at least one or two that you’d enjoy doing. Why spend energy on things that make you miserable? Life is too damn short . . . isn’t it?
Here’s my advice (even if your publicist tells you different): if you despise speaking in public, don’t do it. Write emails. Conduct online contests. Do blog tours. If you love being on television or radio, go for it. Make yourself — or your pitch — irresistible to those media outlets. If you like attending conventions, have a blast and enjoy yourself.
7. Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.
In other words, be nice.
Do your homework.
Remember to be grateful — and to express that gratitude.
Is there anything I’ve missed? Let me know. I’ll share your pearls of wisdom with my intern . . .