No one pitches their products, services, case studies or stories to the media anymore. Is this really the current state of public relations in the building materials industry? Or worse, is this common practice for PR in all markets?
I was fortunate enough to be a senior contributing editor for the trade publication commARCH (Commercial Architecture) for two years. I wrote about marketing and growth development for the magazine. I wrote articles based on my own research like the Top 25 Architects using social media. I also reviewed releases and story ideas from manufacturers and their agencies. I typically received up to a dozen emails with releases each week. Unfortunately, no one pitched their products or services in person, by telephone, video call or in person. Worse yet, none of the people who were reaching out to me with a request to feature their products in the magazine actually introduced themselves. That’s right. Everyone asked to be featured in the magazine but none of them thought it necessary to introduce themselves, their clients, or the products.
The title public relations says it all. You have chosen a profession that builds and relies on relationships, primarily with editors. Relationships are powerful. Most, if not all, require you to introduce yourself, best done in person. You should demonstrate a connection with the people you are reaching out to and asking for something. Good relationships provide mutual benefits to the people involved. Building your network of people is hard work that requires patience and commitment over time. The best relationships take time and are built on trust.
The public relations I have experienced the past two years is completely void of anything more than an email. No calls, no video conferences, and no hellos. Several times a week I received emails from manufacturers or more likely their agencies with no introductions, no attempt at starting a relationship, or reason to give them any particular attention. The results of the no-name outreach? Well, let’s say it was not what happens when you actually pitch your stories.
I Know You
We have featured editor Dave Barista on our There is a Difference blog and video series recently. One of the best points Dave makes during our conversation is that we, Draper DNA, are one of the few people he will pick up the phone to talk with or schedule time for a video call. The reason is we have built a personal relationship with over time, delivered value to him, and gained his trust. This is true for us with most of the editors in the building space. Based on my experience as an editor in this space, personal contacts and trusting relationships with editors is a true rarity and absolute advantage.
If the experience I just shared with you about the two years with commARCH is not enough to make the point that no one pitches anymore, this will. Sadly, commARCH stopped publishing last year when the publisher suddenly passed away. This happened eleven months ago. To this day and every day since the announcements of the suspension of commARCH publishing, I have received press releases from manufacturers and their agencies. Mind you, there is no publication. It begs the question “Are manufacturers getting the service, placements, and return on their investment they expect?
I Read Them Now!
Once commARCH closed and I continued to receive emails from agencies with releases for the manufacturing clients, I started reading them. Not for the content because we are still publishing. I am reading them to learn about the agency’s clients. The clients that are paying good money for PR services and expecting results. I believe each one of these clients, manufacturers, deserves to know how ineffective their agency partners are with the media. Further, I believe they should know there are agencies in the building space that have editor relationships and actually pitch their stories to these editors. I know one agency for certain that does.
It is enlightening to be on the other side of the pitch as an editor. My entire career has included building relationships in the building industry. It is the foundation of our success. The idea that no one pitches anymore is sad. At the same time, it is an opportunity to demonstrate that our experience and relationships make a difference.