By Ryan Skinner (email)
It's a fact: Most companies in the shipping/marine sector don't have the kind of wherewithal to hire separate managers for PR things and for marketing things. Generally, the marketing person is going to get the PR responsibilities.
The results aren't pretty. An editor of a major maritime publication wrote me recently:
from my experience, a lot of the PR people that I deal with are still sending me things layered with 'leading' this and 'innovative' that, which leaves me spending an unnecessary amount of time getting the useful information out. It's not everyone, but some seem to think it's part of their job to get as many superlatives into the press as they can.
Hands up, the marketer/PR managers who he's nailed. (Don't lie now - admit to that "100th mother-of-god awesome marine pump sold to extremely delighted customer" press release last month).
The problem is this: The marketer/PR guy's marketing language bleeds into his PR work. Sure, when you're flirting with the big customer, you're telling her you're the biggest and the best. That's just marketing. Imagine that the press is her father-in-law. He's not interested in why you think you're great. He wants to know what you stand for, what you're really all about.
Here's a fact: Most suppliers/products aren't a whole lot different from one another. They can't be, as you spend much of the time copying the best aspects of your competitors. The difference between success and failure in too many instances boils down to the success of a sales guy. So stop trying to convince the journalist you're "the leading" or "the most innovative."
What you can achieve with PR are these incredible things called authority, credibility and tangibility. Most people will say "PR?!" and roll their eyes. PR's about telling your story in terms that make sense economically, socially and environmentally. You tell a journalist what it means that you do things the way you do them. The more authentic you speak, the more successful your endeavor.
This whole dialogue with the editor resonated from an intention to republish this blog in his magazine, and from an article I recently shared on twitter. Basically, it's saying that the lines between PR and journalism are blurring. Read it. It's worth it. It's the same thing I talked about half-a-year ago with my post about every company a publisher.