Bash the PR…

I don’t normally post work related stuff here, but here’s [yet another] exception.

Earlier this week a Nottingham blogger blogged about how he had been ignored by a PR agency hired for the launch of a new hotel. He took the very easy route of assuming that the PR agency was therefore incompetent. I tried to engage with him on Twitter, but he didn’t reply. So I thought I’d drop my thoughts here instead.

Before I start though, a few caveats:

1 – I don’t know the PR agency in question and I don’t know anything about the hotel or the launch event (I clearly wasn’t invited either). So I’m not defending anyone in particular.

2 – I don’t know the blogger, Tony. He seems to have a lot of followers on Twitter, but I’m not one of them. So nor am I attacking anyone in particular.

3 – From what little I can see (and not withstanding the below) it seems that Tony probably should have been invited to this event…

Ok, caveats over, here’s my view on this.

The Brief

Before you can pass any judgement (positive or negative) over a PR project you have to know what the brief was. Other than the agency and client in question I suspect that nobody knows the exact brief or what was considered a success for this project. It may well have been about a ‘treat’ to contacts they already knew; targeted at a very specific audience; or alternatively maybe Tony was the perfect person to be invited and they cocked up. The point is we don’t know.

The Cost

Planning a PR event guest list is a bit like wedding invitations – “We can only invite 100 people and I’d really like great Aunt Emily to come, but then we’ll have to invite her seven kids too and we don’t have room for them all.” Maybe Tony was carefully selected and was the 21st most influential person on their list – the problem was the agreed budget was only for 20 people.

Followers isn’t Influence

This is a mistake that many people make on social media – it’s an easy trap to fall into too as we’re all sold the lie and follower numbers. However influence isn’t about quantity, it’s about quality. The two most important factors are:

  • What you say
  • Who you say it to

And not, how many you say it to.

Tony may have a lot of followers, but if they aren’t the demographic that this project was designed to hit (see The Brief above), then he isn’t influential for this brand. It’s as simple as that.

In closing his piece, Tony suggested he would like to start his own PR agency as he could probably do it better. I’ll let him have these three points as his first bit of training for that.


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