I was thinking about an earlier post here regarding Brand-You and how to increase PR reach for novice practitioners today. A few thoughts struck me on the nature of basic PR and how to utilise the best parts of effective PR to deliver great results for you.

Here’s a starting point: if I had to define the Top 10 things to remember in delivering good PR on behalf of clients, they would be as follows:

1. Remember it is the story that counts, not the ego

2. The editor is not your pal, he is a media professional looking for editorial of interest to a discerning and fussy readership

3. Your PR will be competiing with many other stories and news items hourly

4. Make sure you have something different, interesting and unique to offer

5. Get to kow your target publications and media thoroughly before you make any direct PR-based contact

6. If your PR gets knoekced back the first time, deal with it. Be persistent and take a different angle next time

7. Make sure you supply outstanding images with all PR submitted

8. Remember that there are different rules of media engagement for online vs. offline media

9. PR yourself widely, across as many sources, publications, forums, blogs, tweets as possible

10. Get ready to deliver consistent, month-after-month PR. One-off hits usually under-deliver

Judging by this story today, it appears that hard-pressed publishers to the PR industry in the States are going down the current road as well-travelled by many publishers across the UK at the moment – either re-structure, re-define the publication, or die.

Interesting to see that the American version of PRWeek has decided to run as a monthly rather than a weekly, in an attempt to save the publication. Shame that Press Gazette couldn’t of tried a few other measures before folding recently: as the main UK publication for the Press, it remained an incredibly useful resource for PRs too.

As for the USA version of PRWeek, how the monthly edition pans out remains to be seen. Will it still be relevant and timely?

Interesting to see that certain sectors of the PR industry are riding the recession wave with a positive grin on their corporate PR surfboards today – as this story highlights.

It appears that Maggie Thatcher’s ex-PR guru Lord Bell, the Head of PR & Marekting at Chime Communications, has been awarded a pay increase amounting to more than 20 percent over the last year, topping his salary package to over £1 million. Not a bad result given the ongoing economic conditions.

But to be fair, given that many corporates are slashing their marketing budgets in other areas but retaining core PR services as essential – and relatively cost-effective – means of getting messages out there, the story does not seem that surprising. Looks like PR remains a winner for clients and Agencies alike as the recession continues to bite hard.

According to this story, we might have found a truly inspiring PR guy. One with a spirit if openness and innovation.

On Alan Mutter’s excellent blog, the profitable running of PR guy Shankman’s American venture Help A Reporter Out, or HARO, seems to be raking in the cash, as Shankman effortlessly links up journalists and sources. The revenues earnt from the linkages are proving lucrative: Shankman has taken more than $1 million in the last year alone.

This got me thinking.

The value of networks, connecting, adding personal value – these have long been known in PR circles, but rarely fully utilised. The concept of sharing contacts with other PRs, for example, used to be a huge no-no. Some PRs are too precious about a number of things, including their contacts. I tend to prefer a looser more relaxed, informal approach to my clients and media contacts.

To be fair, it is a practice I have carried out for years, as the inherent value of sharing usually increases personal reputation if nothing else – which in turn often brings a financial return at some point further down the road.

In fact, I haven’t pitched for a new client in more than three years – personal recommendations and word-of-mouth referrals have taken the Beauty Parade Pitch process out of the equation. And thankfully.

So, how are you utilising your networks for PR gains? Are you leveraging your Press and client contacts? If not, why not? Isn’t it about time you got a return on all that giving? Particularly as we hit the halfway point of the recession.

Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!

The screaming hordes of increasing Tweeters, the bloggers informing us they are going to tweet, the chat, hopelessly banale blogs, endless re-tweets…etc etc etc…where is it going to end? Now the PRs are on the bandwagon, watch out.

I suggest that a valuable viewpoint has been raised here today, with wise words indeed from London PR guru Mark Borkowski, when he asks how long it will be before Twitter is completely de-valued by the marketers and PRs.

The constant stream of PR-infused inputs into celebrity tweets has, of course, come to light in recent weeks – but this is just the start of what will be yet another filtering down of thought-provoking, useful, debate-generating conversation into thinly-veiled sales messages.

Hey, I’m not being cynical, just looking at what usually happens when so-called hip and happening PR and Marketing Agencies jump on the latest comms bandwagon.

It’s a great post from Borkowski, and raises some genuinely interesting, valid and valuable points.

People who tweet and blog because they think they should – not because they add value. Good conclusion Mark.

…you!

Wondering how Brand-You can make a significant difference in winning media and buyer attention? Not sure if personal PR can utilise press leverage and convert column inches online and offline into cold, hard cash? Unconvinced that personal Branding and powerful personal PR techniques – such as positioning yourself as the expert in your field – can really make a worthwhile difference to your bottom line?

Well – read this story.

According to the Guardian, Tony Blair is on track, through personal speaking engagements and City consultancies – not to mention television appearances, article writing and other PR pushes – to be earning in the region of £18 million in the two year period after leaving office.

Now, it is fair to say the bargaining power of having been a UK Prime Minister will inevitably demand a higher average fee per appearance, speech, article submission etc, but the fact remains that Blair Incorporated is one of the most effective money-making PR machines on the planet today. And this isn’t including Cherie’s inputs of course.

Now, as a PR person, I have to admire the way the Blairs have got out there, promoted themselves and converted their potential PR-ability into hard cash. Whether I personally like Tony or Cherie is largely irrelevant in this context.

So, having read the hyperlinked article, ask yourself what you’re doing to PR yourself today.

Great story here today, which got me thinking about consistency in PR.

It appears that ethically-branded and PR-ed smoothie firm Innocent have sold between 10 and 20 percent of their shares to Coca Cola, netting the three Innocent co-founders a cool £30 million.

Is, however, selling shares to a global giant corporation with a less-than-perfect record on ethical trading, such as Coca Cola, really going to be seen as consistent in the eyes of innocent’s global audience? Is it possible to give consistent PR after doing this deal?

Which got me thinking about consistency in PR in general – how many times, for example, have you seen a business carry out a PR campaign for three or six months, make all the right noises, engage the Press, gain column inches, start to build a positive reputation – and then leave further PR for two or three years, or until they have a new product/service to launch? Familiar?

What message does this send out to the Media and their audiences? What message does Innocent’s deal today send out there?

Great story here about the training programme in place for 2009 covering new skills being given to FT journalists. Bravo.

According to journalism.co.uk the scheme will give journalists at the National the understanding, tools and techniques to delivery effectively as modern media practitioners. Contemporary skills such as editing in a digital age.

My biggest concern is – fine, but who’s giving these skills to the PRs out there? The British PR fraternity has a terrible and stubborn resistance to embrace digital media, blogs, online foums, tweets, facebook and the like. Even in London!

You know, the sort of PR Agency which thinks that an annually-updated glossy, expensive company brochure is effective as a means of widespread communication. And yes, there are still PR Agencies out there like this.

It’s one thing to educate journalists, but until the PRs out there embrace our digital age, media relations will remain firmly with one foot in the past – well, in the UK at least.

The main reasons why editors will automatically bin your media relations could well be from the following no-no list:

1. Your press release isn’t actually relevant to their readership

2. You don’t have an interesting, unique or different story to tell

3. The press release is just a worded version of a sales pitch

4. You have missed the editor’s deadline – or don’t even know when that is

5. You haven’t read the publication (online or offline) and have submitted a poor attempt at gaining column inches

6. You haven’t found out the name and email of the editor and have sent a generic, no-named email

7. You haven’t submitted accompanying images in high-quality, professional format with your press release

8. Your feature ideas are not backed up with case study examples

9. Your facts and statistics contained in the press release are not attributed

10. The press release is, basically, poorly-written and would take too much work to turn into a decent editorial piece

Any 1 or more of the above points combined will pretty-much guarantee you a strike-out with the Media. Guilty?!

Surprising to see corporate giants Google popping their heads above the normal corporate PR messages today, with news that they have been defending accusations of dirty PR tricks in the ever-increasing war for Internet supremacy.

According to the Guardian, the online behemoth has been fighting off claims of a smear campaign against Privacy International over their concern around certain elements of the Street View tool which has gained so much media coverage recently.

It’s always a surprise when two corporates go head-to-head in this way – such as when Branson was fighting with Murdoch in the Press last year. The headlines and feature articles raged for…oooh, at least 6 days.

And, of course, it gave an inquisitive audience – which also happens to be target customers ie consumers – a perfect reason to investigate further into what exactly the fuss was all about by looking deeper into the Virgin offer at the time.

And today’s PR battle will open up further interest, debate, media attention and PR leverage for Google, and – possibly – for Privacy International too. They say that all PR is good PR. Not inclined to agree, especially when so much negative News is hitting the business Press at the moment. Try selling in a positive business story to the Nationals right now! May as well attempt to walk across the Thames in sandals.

It would be fantastic, however, to see the corporate egos rising above themselves, demonstrating they can take the higher moral ground, and maybe exercising something approaching that fabled business concept of collaboration?!

Now THAT would be a wonderful piece of PR for our doom-and-gloom times.