Crayon Drawings in the Art of PR: You’re Leaving Money on the Table with “OK” Public Relations

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

BUFFALO, NY – Many business owners and even many “public relations professionals” look at PR as a way to try to get for free that for which you’d normally pay, ie, advertising.

Politicians are masters at using public relations to create news and including themselves in news that would otherwise be reported without them. The author, kneeling, is among a throng of reporters talking to daredevil Nik Wallenda (right) and State Senator George Maziarz (left at microphone). (Eric Malinkowski Photo/Facebook)
Politicians are masters at using public relations to create news and including themselves in news that would otherwise be reported without them. The author, kneeling, is among a throng of reporters talking to daredevil Nik Wallenda (right) and State Senator George Maziarz (left at microphone). (Eric Malinkowski Photo/Facebook)

So when you open a new location, you send out a press release and hope some reporter does a story.

Or you start selling a new product line. Press release. Or you won an award. Press release.

While of course these are all examples of public relations best practices, and are examples of press releases I have personally written and sent, they are really the crayon drawings in the art of public relations.

These may or may not be good stories from a reporter’s or editor’s perspective, and are likely the sort of thing that get mentions when reporters are feeling the desperation of a deadline looming without an idea to run with.

Further, these examples are all self-serving stories. In most instances, the person who benefits the most from this information being disseminated is you.

Reporters are not stupid. They know you are looking for a free plug, and unless you and your PR professional have come up with a great story angle to dress up the fact you’re looking for a free commercial, reporters will do their best to avoid it if they can.

This sort of media outreach is a low percentage play. It’s worth doing, and worth doing right. But if it’s all you’re doing with PR, you’re leaving money on the table.

Is there something going on in your industry that consumers need to know about?

Is there a news item that effects your industry and could eventually hit the public?

When you start thinking along these lines, everyone’s focus is changed for the better.

Instead of being one of the cattle-call dozens of self-serving story pitches a reporter is assaulted with everyday, you’re now at least trying to help them help the public in some way.

From pariah to ally instantly. And maybe it becomes a story a reporter is inspired to tell instead of slogs through, which always makes for better results.

And the next time something comes up in your industry, maybe that reporter calls you for a quote.

Congratulations. You’ve gone from “business owner” to “expert.”

Of course, you were an expert all along, you just needed some better PR.

Its not always that simple, but public relations is like any other facet of business. It’s about building relationships.

I can help you become a reporter’s friend, not someone whose press release is deleted without reading.

What’s your story? You know where to find me to help you tell it.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.