Monday, September 15, 2008
Handle with care #1: Technology PR people

Picture courtesy of: LEWIS Imagebank

A few weeks ago I played journalist, including phoning up PR people and experiencing how nice they can be. I promised I’d write you a list on how to get the most out of them, then got too busy with other work and forgot. For all (two) of you waiting for my list, here t’is.

Seven tips when dealing with technology PR people:

1. Refill their nice tank. They spend all day being so inhumanly nice to everyone that most of them go home, having spent all their niceness, and shout at people. Pay some of that back by being nice to them, even when they appear to be being stupid. It's for the good of humankind.
2. Remember they’re not stupid. PR is a constant balancing act of the interests of numerous stakeholders, subjects, discrete events, skills and deadlines. When a PR person appears to be acting stupidly, they’re more than likely to have just lost their concentration for a moment.
3. Buy them a coffee. They’re probably tired and could be about to lose concentration for a moment and look stupid. They also never have coffee bought for them, as they’re generally busy doing that for everyone else. In my experience a skinny latte is a safe bet.
4. Test them. Phone and pretend to be a journalist. Ask them what makes your solution different. Send them an email and time how long it takes for a response. Ask them to get you a coffee. If they’re crap, tell them. But do it constructively (see point 1).
5. Brief them well. Just because you understand how your integration-optimised, end-to-end business process management analytics solution differentiates, they probably won’t immediately. They’ve got three other clients whose products include all of those words but in a different order, so you’ll need to give them context.
6. Invite them to things. Your AGM. Your sales kickoff meeting. Hawaii. Taking your PR person to places exposes them to aspects of your company, proposition and values that you take for granted. Even knowing that Ted in accounts tends to expose himself at the Christmas party is good cultural intel.
7. Don’t go to their work parties. They have a stressful existence and are likely to expose themselves. Go to the one that’s specially put on for clients – alcohol will still flow, but people will have been pre-briefed that dancing on the bar dressed only in bubble-wrap pants isn’t OK.

Coming next in #2 of the ‘Handle with care’ series-shut-up-yes-it’s-a-series-now: