It’s Still a People Business

Technology has brought a lot of changes in the public relations and marketing business, but some things haven’t changed yet.

At least until the point where artificially intelligent “bots” take over writing articles and research reports, we are still going to be working with editors and industry analysts who are warm-blooded individuals.

And there’s the key word: individuals. That’s something that we on the PR and marketing side can’t ever afford to forget. It can be seductively easy to look at a database of journalists, for instance, and see only names and outlets. Easier yet if you leverage technology and send out mass emails to your list, without any personalization.

In one way, we marketers are a lot like salespeople. We have our prospect list, but instead of selling them physical goods, we strive to sell them ideas, concepts, messages, and opportunities. And we’re competing with scores of other companies in each of our industries that want to make that same sale.

Those journalists have only so much time and attention available, and it’s our job to grab what we can for our company or client.

An old friend of Dux PR is Stu Schlackman, a “relationship selling expert” who has made a career of analyzing how to help salespeople close deals by understanding their prospects and communicating effectively with them. His approach – to know and understand the prospect and their needs – is one we heartily endorse.

The thing is, salespeople may have scores of prospects while PR people have hundreds. How can you ever “understand” that many people? The short answer is it ain’t easy and it takes time. Especially in an age where PR people don’t have nearly the face-to-face contact we did at one time.

But start by prioritizing. Who are your 50 top-tier editors and analysts? Try to winnow those out of the pack, and then research them. What have they written? Tweeted? What do their online profiles tell you? That’s for starters, and it’s how you build on that information and use it that gets just a bit proprietary. We can’t really reveal all our secrets now, can we?

But always remember that each of the people you work with is a three-dimensional individual, and as long as you focus on thinking of them that way, the task of “understanding” them gets a lot easier as you proceed.