Monday, July 6, 2009

Just Kill a Guy

Early (well, earlier) in my public relations career I was confronted with the client or boss we all know.

In this case he was the CEO of his organization. He leaned across the conference table and, with his eyeglasses in one hand and the other hand clenched in ball pounding the table said, “Your job, young man [I was] is to get my name in the paper.”

I was just young enough that I couldn’t control the impulse to say: “Just kill a guy.”

After an eternal pause I explained that if all you want is your name in the paper, killing a guy … preferably in public … is the best way to ensure success.

Too many organizations mistake awareness for success in public relations. Too many professionals do too. They’re the agencies or consultants who promise to “tell your story” or to “make you famous.”

The power of your story should not be discounted, but it’s only part of the deal. What is your objective? What do you want to accomplish by having your story told, your name in the paper, by being ‘famous’?

Getting that client’s name in the paper was a means to an end. Unfortunately, it was an end he couldn’t articulate.

There was a time when just getting your name – or your preferred narrative – in print or on the air was enough. That’s where the audience was and news coverage was the most efficient way to reach decision makers, whether they were homemakers or CEOs.

The higher objective of public relations always should be just that: RELATIONS, or rather relationships. Name awareness counts, but does that work in other relationships in your life?

Or do you need a little engagement, too?

Awareness is a means …

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