Necessary evil? Remove one of those words.Part of business for centuries. Part of marketing mix.Grapes grow on bushes but money doesn’t and whilst wine might make your head spin, it’s money that makes the world go around.Once you’ve made a good product, you have to let people know about it. That involves making some noise and invariably that involves finding a medium or two to distribute your message. The internet is making it possible to talk to your customers directly, but to build a brand you will need some independent opinion to support you – who do you target?
Whilst I write about wine and receive hundreds of emails a month from wino PRs, my day job is running a software company. In that role, I BUY PR and maybe that gives me a balanced perspective? Let’s see.Here are some of the traditional media titles we target. Let’s do a quick straw poll – how many people have heard of the BBC? How many have heard of the New York Times?Anyway, the common theme here is that we target these titles because they offer genuinely independent well researched opinion. So it is highly valued by the reader.
We also target “new” media. Let’s try that straw poll again – who has heard ofMashable? How many people can pronounce GigaOm? How many have ever read Horses for Sources.Horses for sources is a super-niche blog targetted at the business process outsourcing sector and yet has 110, 000 subscribers.We target these titles because they are well read. The message carries a long way and to a highly relevant audience. Perhaps without the total rigour of the Financial Times but nonetheless, highly influential.
I do have some view on ethics – you can read about them on my blog. But, I also think it is time to move on from the obsessive ethical introspective neurosis that seems to be flooding the blogsphere recently. All anyone can expect is honesty.Tell people why you write and who your intended audience is. What is your interest. How do you fund your activities? What are the commercial relationships you have with advertisers, suppliers and PRs.And be honest about what you write. Whatever your take, if a friend asked you privately, would you say the same as you wrote?You have a responsibility to be open and honest and in return this will attract the attention of the right type of PRs – but also the wrong ones.As both a buyer and a seller of PR, I should point out that there are good PR people and bad PR people.
Louise asked me to leave the audience with one thought and here it is. The word is integrity. For me, this applies to all aspects of business.You do have to look at yourself in the mirror every day and be comfortable that you have been fair to your suppliers, your readers, your customers, your partners and yes, even your PR contacts.If you feel guilty enough that you don’t feel able to discuss your activities openly, then you are acting without integrity.In which case, perhaps I ought to disclose that this image is not mine. I did a Google images search and stole it from a blog called Source Metrics. See, none if us are squeaky clean.
Alistair Bathgate: How To Shine Online (and why PR is a necessary evil)