The following is not actually a love letter, but a conceptualised rant on behalf of PR folk who often encounter people who hire them, and then point blank refuse to utilise their public relations skillsets to their full potential. Or worse, totally failing to recognise them and attempt to do it themselves.
Graduates often get burned out learning this the hard way.
#PRPROBS: Letter To Arrogant Clients [EXPLICIT]
Sensitive, us? Nah… so here goes that rant. Love letter. You get me.
Dear X/Y/Z Client,
The frustrations are fivefold.
1. You think I just Tweet, post on Facebook but do nothing else
Surely not every tweet is designed around a set of Marketing purposes which had to be researched and measured based on how engagement works for products, like yours, that actually sold? Surely, not every piece of communication is designed around creating fan relationships, working relationships, retaining interest (What? Shit, really? Are you that arrogant??); tracking data, timing, finding who the core set of social sharers are and working from that to create growth? AKA PEOPLE WHO GIVE A SHIT! PEOPLE WHO WILL SPEND MONEY ON YOUR WORK!
Surely, these little social quips don’t all culminate into leads for each of the five-a-day, tailored story pitches (all for separate and different publishing deadlines = 25 deadlines a week) and future retail partners, re-telling yet re-angling all the same material so they don’t just delete your embarrassingly anchovy set of assets that landed in their inbox against the huge, mammoth, filled-with-journalistic-glory and free gifts golden Killer Whale ‘indie’ that editor/that reviewer/that blogger already goes fishing with anyway?
A PR deals with the rejection for your creative work so you don’t have to. And then figures out how to say the same thing… only in a DIFFERENT WAY. Again. SURELY the USP is all that counts, right? Yeah. That will naturally get some interest without being told, you know, why it exists, who the artists are and what you’re like, why it’s important, why now… who needs a product brand or a structure when there’s no time lose?
Because WHO NEEDS A BUSINESS PLAN? A MARKETING STRATEGY? WHO NEEDS A PR PLAN? A GROWTH METHOD? Let’s just screw this and get on with the project.
NO S**** SHIRLEY, we need a plan? Surely, all these tweets and emails and phone calls and after-work emailing and socialising are random, they aren’t mostly plays and leads to ensuring your work does not fall into the one thing that all of the internet and all media have in common: the singularity of NO-ONE GIVES A SHIT.
Oh and BTW internetz, did you know that most PRs are ex-journalists? Say whuuuh? Did you know that a lot journalists are ex-PRs? Whhuuuuuuuhhhhhhh?? That’s right. Did you also know that we have a cat & mouse relationship based on mutual understanding and a subconscious initial hatred of each other which, once made well and established, is functional and even friendly, because we hash things out like adults and do our jobs properly? DO YOU THINK THIS RHETORIC IS TELLING YOU SOMETHING? Guess what, numb nuts. I don’t just sit here on two-thirds of the wage I could get at an agency, tweeting off ‘n’ chatting shit without keeping at least three of my talons firmly dug within daily metrics and caring for the audiences who care about you – yes, you and your project, pitching and asking for said care from your future customers EVERY SINGLE DAY. Amazingly, I like your storyworld. I chose your world as one I wanted to work with and happily for me, it worked out. So I want you to be the best with a ninja underdog’s story that took out the Might of the Mainstream by surprise. You get to go on doing what you love, succeeding more than you were before; I get inspired to do my own creative work and even more amazingly, that is WIN WIN. It’s selfish too: your success would mean another Mainstream Giant KO! WOO! by the Indie Guys to add to a complex, fucked-up necklace of giant’s teeth which I dance around in while metamorphosed as a wolf at night (or on out-of-hours email, which I answer. Not that you’d know. Or ask). Appreciate, don’t take it for granted; and try for just a minute see what I’m doing, or at least interpret what PR is by reading something a little bit outside of your comfort zone, and work it into an understanding you can sit with. Because I am doing that for you, everyday – only for a diverse press base and a demographic wider than the Grand Canyon. Don’t even get started and how you think you should find out who that demographic is. That’s the Marketing department, and they are your divinatory source for future profits. You definitely don’t want to fuck them off, either.
2. You’re pretty sure that enough people will just want to see this anyway, your friends will tell their friends and that’ll be it. That’s all PR is. https://twitter.com/sydhux/status/531121207366524928
Fuck off. Grow up. Come back to me when you have some real commercial awareness, or you know who your demographic is down to a T so that you know what time they read your indsutry’s magzines each day, which online spaces to inhabit and what countries your audience is from, (who aren’t your friends) when I ask. Come back when you want to know what a set of ad-equivalency data does for you; what your media impression rate is, or your web conversions, your bounce rate; how your press audit went. Don’t get me wrong, working for an agency instead of a head-in-the-clouds type would be so stable. Cushy. So lovely. Big holiday allowances. Health plan. Dental plan. Free phone. Expenses account for networking. The Goliath Brand wants things done now, and done big. Here’s the cash. Here’s the audience already: let’s go. Hell, a Goliath product will write itself a press release. In another I could pick up a paper or magazine and laugh my tits off because their review/interview was my press release, word-for-word. I didn’t turn down job offers -all sent to me privately while working for you, dear client- to be told by you, that you don’t want to do anything above and beyond the 9-5, because you can’t be arsed to share at least a sentence about what you do.
Don’t be the classic case of someone ‘in’ the business who never works ‘on’ the business. Wanna boost your credibility and desirability as an artist/photographer/director/designer/developer? Great! Be indie like all the other indies and standout by not doing anything after 5pm. Don’t ever record it anywhere except on a CV….geez louise. Stay in your rut.
The creatives who want it bad enough will at least have their own website, blog, showreel; use portfolio sites wherever they and even do creative-related, but personal, side projects; all while linking back to their own. They understand that PR will help perceptions begin, grow, change and create an organic audience – but PR cannot force the final-edit decision of a journo.
When that comes from PR it stinks of bull and everyone knows it. PR can: support it, reshape it into traditional releases, guest posts; share it across useful networks and contacts – just don’t make me *be* you. If YOU are the indie artist: if YOU create, cut, paint, build – then CARE about your audience, your customers, tell them how you did it. We continue to live in a privileged age where people actively seek out culture, art, film, books and gaming to better themselves and define their tastes. Inform these tastes. Show them how you did it. Your audience is smart – likely smarter – than you. Show some respect.
3. From here to Los Angeles, you’re the client with the smallest budget who gets the most coverage – and you are the least satisfied.
Let’s not even cover this because there isn’t any more you can say other than INGRATE.
PR cannot force people to empathise with you: “Oh but I put so much work in and it’s unique and I am known for this kind of thing. I’ll promote it myself, they will understand that” …. No, they won’t.
4. You think you have to tell me how to do my job because I am a Woman, and Young/I’m not a master of your field.
You are stupider than you think. Well; you’ve made it personal now. Of course I’m bloody not. I’ve done marketing for plumbers and gardeners in Essex – I’m not a plumber nor a professional gardener. I ran campaigns, bids and wrote environmental policies for construction companies and franchise owners – can’t tell you the first thing about building roads or schools or running a franchise. However, PR gave these companies enough money to employ more people and produce new, profit-sustaining business plans. So fuck PR because clearly because no-one needs to keep their job or make new ones. A PR might not be a master of her/his client’s work but let it be a cautionary tale: it works both damn ways.
5. We’ll just buy the PR as and when we need it. https://twitter.com/optimisticindie/status/496365580967227392
Assuming a median rate of £30 per hour for decent PR professionals, and 150 total hours of collective work of research, staff costs, pitch tailoring, distribution, analytics (add £50 per hour more for any legal costs associated with regulatory compliance) the cost to write one press release is usually around £4,500. Yeah. So you could get these companies that charge £300 per release, send it out and leave it to the client to follow up but – prepare to be burned when you need a media base to handle enquiries and ‘Yes! We’d love to feature you!’ deadlines while you do your day job. You can totally handle it. Don’t forget your reputation management plan incase things go wrong.
PR execs sometimes find they have to justify their role in the business – hilariously, just as the world becomes totally narrative and PR focused than ever before.
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