In the past two to three years, I've attended almost every Publicity Club of New England event as I've been behind the scenes working with other board members to organize, plan and execute these programs for the public relations industry around Boston. As vice president of programs for the PubClub, I've heard multiple panelists and moderators speak, ask questions and engage with the audience.
Monday night for the final program of the 2012-2013 seasons, PAN Communications hosted the Tech PR panel here at PAN's 255 State Street office with our own vice president Jason Ouellette moderating. Being focused solely in tech PR, this was my favorite panel and with names such as Fortune, ReadWrite, Boston Globe, BostInno and CIO attending (coming to our offices!), I was excited to hear what they had to say and what has changed in our industry over the past year and what is on the horizon. I enjoyed hearing the thoughts go back and forth about the different trends, things not to do, what really does work and more; I tried to not be too discouraged at the PR-bashing.
After listening to the panel and thinking of the past panels this season-- including the lifestyle consumer panel, where I was a fish out of water- one thing remains the constant from each panelist-- PR pros need to use common sense. Whether it's targeting the pitch in a personal way, making sure to use or not use a formal name/nickname, knowing what the reporter covers, or making it a short pitch or a very long one it all boils down to common sense. Sure, these panels can be a sounding board for reporters to vent about public relations but if you listen to the consistent message, it's not that hard to grasp-- Know who you are pitching, why you are pitching and attempting build that relationship with them. That’s what our clients are paying us for, that’s the whole purpose of media relations and honestly, that’s what I enjoy the most— getting to know new people and seeing how a story develops.
As technology advances, there are ways to make every job easier, but that doesn't mean it's the right way. Reporters and bloggers know when you use a form letter (what is this template that the reporters reference? PAN has never and will never use such a tool) and when you’re blasting down a list. They want to feel special and know that you put the time into your work to reach out to them. You’re an “expert” in this field—act like it. Not just for your clients or future clients but for yourself and your own relationship building and reputation. It takes time, hard work and dedication but at the end of the day, you’ll be a better PR professional for it and not just another flack.