I hear that a lot. At first, I did not like the sound of it. Really, is this all I do? But then I realized that, even though it’s NOT everything we do, is actually very important. At a conference last year, a (very friendly) PR person told me that she had set up 12 meetings for her client and was very proud of it. Because I came from the corporate world and I am all about ROI, I tracked that specific company for the following weeks. Those 14 meetings turned into one article. I checked the Twittersphere… nothing, just the PR person talking now and then about her client without anybody commenting.
That got me thinking that putting a client in front of the “right people” is essential. Most PR firms (and I managed quite a few back in my corporate days) are all about monthly reports padded with a high number of meetings with people sipping their coffee at the other end of the line without much interest in what the startup is selling and with little knowledge of the market. The monthly report looks good though. That retainer seems justified. Also, I had clients who insisted that I should pitch every press release to every reporter I knew. I told them that I would not, because not every announcement interests every reporter and the advantage of working with a PR firm specialized on a specific market is that we know exactly what each reporter likes and covers. When they get an email or call from us, they know it is relevant. If the client insists, maybe it’s time to move on, I say. It’s hard to let go of an account, but it’s even harder to waste my time and an editor’s time, and maybe not getting a second chance when the client truly has relevant news. We build relationships with the right people, same way clients want to build relationships with the right customers and technology partners.