I’ve bene thinking a lot, lately, about how to put a human voice on PR so that it works better on me.
The thinking comes from a recent bout of PR from a major vendor that has decided everything they do is epoch-making. A .3 release is a revolution. A .4 release has become a remaking of an industry. Throw in the fact that one of their spokesfolk could not even define AJAX for me the other day, and all of a sudden I have an image of this vendor as hideously out of touch, self-obsessed and naff. I’ve also been watching more corporate YouTube and falling asleep inside 120 seconds most of the time, as the talent learns that a job in marketing, the gift of the gab and a decent salary that buys some nice new on-camera clothes does not translate into an entertaining or engaging presence. I do not claim the latter two traits for myself, by the way.
Anyway, Jason Calcanis’ post on the subject resonates with me. If you don’t feel like clicking on it, he basically advocates going anywhere it might be sensible for you to go in order to promote your self/client/cause and networking like mad while somehow not coming across as a publicity whore. This is an egregious simplification but was fun to write.
Thing is, this kind of behavior works. I’ve seen PRs (nearly always in-house) who do appear anywhere it could be advantageous for them to appear. It takes a certain type of PR to pull it off (Generally youngish, no kids-ish, ambitious, very gregarious) but it can be done. When it works, you get a wonderfully genuine and human voice for a company.
But the average agency person … fuggedaboutit. In my experience as a PR, they don’t want to work on half their accounts, which they’ve been dumped into for various reasons. In my experience as a journo, more than half don’t understand their accounts. Both of these disqualify them from speaking with a human voice on behalf of their clients.
So what’s needed is someone very close to the organisation that wishes to reach the public and is willing to do so, with some actual charisma. Then all they have to do is figure out how to be human, or let their organisations let them be human. And then, hopefully, be good at being human, because not everyone is good at that.
Better stop now. I think it is too late for this to be insightful, readable or … human!