If you want to be a really good PR pro, schmooze your way into relationships
Earlier this morning, while I was trying to pour hot coffee down my throat to get me going for the day, I stumbled across this Farhad Manjoo column in the New York Times. It’s titled “The global economy runs on parties you’re not invited to.” While click-worthy in its own merit, what stood out to me was the column’s subhead: “The robots may take over, but high-end schmoozing will never die.” Hmm, interesting.
What stands out to you the most in that subhead? If you answer is robots, tap yourself on the back. While it’s not the right answer, robots are dope AF, to be fair. But the thing that pops out for me is that “high-end schmoozing will never die.” Does that ring a bell?
As PR professionals, one of the most important jobs we have is building relationships, mainly with journalists. Sure, you could always reply or like a journos tweet every time they tweet something, but you’re not really building anything here. Fact is if a journalist walked by you on the street, would they know you were? Probably not, it’s going to take a whole lot more to build that relationship than liking someone’s tweet.
And this is why this column struck a chord with me. It makes perfect sense when you factor it to the PR industry. Ok fair, schmoozing is a bit of a stretch when it comes to journalists. But, in a sense, you want to take the same approach, but in a more subtle way. The goal here is simple: Be a human being.
Set yourself apart from the rest – Ready up that expense account
If you really want to build a relationship, put a face to the name. Shoot over a quick introductory email introducing yourself. Invite them out for a coffee. Take them out for drinks. Wine and dine them at a nice fancy restaurant. You have an expense account, use it.
Seriously, you’d be surprised at how well this works. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this and had journos respond with replies thanking me for an excuse to drag them out of the office. And there are the instances where you actually build long-lasting relationships. Like, I can count at least 10-15 journalists where we text message each other regularly without ever talking about clients or work.
And sure, while many of them may not accept your offer, the gesture is surely appreciated. There may be even other times where they accept your invitation and you have a great meeting and then you never hear from them again. It happens. Journalists are human too. They have their reasons.
As someone who runs a tech blog, I get a lot of pitches. And I can tell you right now that in the span of five years running it, I’ve been sent about two or three of these sort of invitations or introductory emails. So I can tell you, not a lot of PR people are doing this, which really tells me something – A lot of us are unfortunately bad at our jobs. If you really want to set yourself apart from the rest of the scrubs, again, be human.
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