Tip #32, continued

There’s a small argument brewing over Tip #32, Hush, now.  To clarify:

 Please remember that this blog is my perspective, and other journalists may feel differently.
 
That said, I stand by the original sentiment of the post. Those of you who note that the job of a PR person is to set up the meeting between me and the company rep, and then set the client free to swing his or her own bat, have it right. Once the meeting is underway, shut the hell up. Even if the presenter fumbles, keep a lid on it. If you try to steer the conversation at that point, you will make things worse. Passing a note? Good idea.
 
You don’t see PR people on stage at Demo, TechCrunch50, Under the Radar, or other product pitch shows, do you? That’s because the company rep — the person with the passion and vision that makes the product what it is — that person is the real story. The PR rep during a pitch meeting? You’re the fact sheet. Important, but I can read you later.
 
If the person you’re representing cannot tell the company or product’s story, then either spend more time in prep with your client, or find a new one. If you really want to be the one telling the story, go start your own company.
 
And finally, I do not mean to “deride” PR people. I poke fun, sure, but there’s no hate. Our corner of the communications economy would not function well without PR. So I respect the job and also some of the people who do it. I just have a strong opinion on what the PR function is, and it is not to be the person on the stage.
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6 Comments

Filed under Common sense, Meetings, Relationships

6 responses to “Tip #32, continued

  1. Rafe – for the most part, I definitely agree with you. But isn’t the real goal at the end of the day to get the information you need in order to write a well-rounded, well-researched story? Whether you get it from an engineer, a project manager or a PR person, (in theory) I don’t think it should matter – especially if you are looking primarily for background information vs. a quote. If you think about it, a good PR person is going to coach all of his/her spokespeople on key messages anyway so does it matter who actually says it? The real exceptions to this are when you are looking for the first-hand account from a founder, C-level, project manager, etc.

    Just my two cents.

    BTW – who is starting the Pro Reporter Tips blog? That would be fun but I’m not interested in career suicide…

  2. Hi Rafe,

    I just started following you on Twitter and jumped over to Tip #32…and stayed to read every one. I’ll be back for more.

    As someone who has been in the business for more than 20 years, I find your tips as thought-provoking as they are funny. And it’s great to see my colleagues in the profession chiming in to put the PR role into perspective.

  3. I’m just sorta disappointed you broke form for this blog post.

  4. Agreed. Not the person on the stage.

  5. I see role of the PR “handler” as one of a coach. PR pros supposed to media train their customer, teach them how to evangelize, and than get out of the way. However, I do believe that PR handler should be ready to step-in, if the train wreck is imminent. Best ones will always anticipate and prepare you, so you never get to that point.

    Just my humble 2c.

    Apolinaras “Apollo” Sinkevicius
    Revolve, Inc.
    Flexpertise ™ – Law – Capital

  6. Riss

    I agree with most of what you said. My job primarily is to get my client through the door, and prepare him or her well beforehand. 98% of the time, I never have to say a word during interviews other than the introductions. However, many executives know a lot about their passion, vision and product, and not so much about PR. So I would kind of suck as a PR person if I saw the “DANGER Will Robinson” sign flashing and didn’t save him from himself. I’ve actually had an exec suddenly start screaming at a reporter. You betcha I stepped in.

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