January 27, 2006
Are You Guilty of Email Overkill? Don't Let Tech Wreck PR's Best Assets
Veteran PR practitioner suggests over-reliance on tech tools such as email contributes to disconnect between PR and mediahis tips for rebuilding that trust.
Op-Ed by David Kaye, President and CEO, KPR, Inc.
Dependence on email is taking away relationship marketing as a key tool for the PR pro. Having been in the PR business, primarily on the marketing side in the high-tech world, for more than 30 years, I have seen many changes. Unfortunately, not all of them are good. Depersonalization of the relationships between PR pros and writers or editors is one of the worst changes I’ve witnessed.
As recent as ten years ago, editors and writers welcomed calls from trusted PR pros. Trust was built on personal relationships and a history of honest communications. Now, many of them say, “Email your pitch, and I’ll get back to you if I am interested.”
Editors and writers also used to meet with their PR contacts on a regular basis. We knew them personally, as well as professionally. We gave them stories they could trust. The most experienced writers still like to work this way. However, younger and less-experienced writers have been taught that PR people are not their friends. They’ve been taught that we’re out to trick them into writing stories that put our clients or companies in a favorable light. They think that the emphasis is on the word trick. As a result, they won’t take the time to meet PR pros and only want to communicate by email. They don’t even want to talk to you unless they call you.
Clearly, they don’t care about, or want, relationships with PR pros. As a result, they will not build up a cadre of trusted PR contacts upon whom they can call when they need help.
So what can we do about this problem? Here are some ideas:
- Use emails with journalists only by way of introduction—or when getting that first story. After that, start calling on a regular basis to check in. Find out what your journalist is going to be writing about. Offer reliable sources of information.
- If the reporter is local, try to meet with him. Develop a relationship of trust. These relationships may come slowly. However, in time, the reporter will welcome calls from you and will readily accept your story ideas. Relationships develop much more easily on the telephone and in person than through email. The more relationships you have, the better you can do your job.
- If you have the opportunity, go to local colleges and offer to speak to journalism students about how to develop reliable sources of information. Emphasize relationship building with trusted PR pros. Similarly, teach younger PR colleagues how to develop relationships. It will all pay off in time.
- Finally, don’t allow email to isolate you. Instead, use it for what it does best: communicate information. Use your own voice when it comes to relationship building.
David Kaye founded KPR Inc. in 1976 to provide professional public relations and marketing services to companies in high-technology industries. His background includes design engineering, as well as being an award-winning writer while a senior editor at Electronic Design Magazine prior to starting KPR.