Category Archives: Public Relations

Taboos in PR, What the Biz Exec Needs to Know

Every profession has taboos and things that tarnish reputations and business efforts. Public relations is no different. By knowing the taboos, business executives can do a better job finding the PR team that fits their needs, budget and culture.

7 PR Taboos Revealed, Attention Business Executives


  1. A Press Release Is Not PR. No matter what anyone tries to sell you, one press release is not a business-changing event—or a public relations (PR) program. It is one component that is usually overused and sometimes useless. Effective PR requires a PR person—someone adept, experienced, creative and comfortable walking the tight rope between client needs and reporter needs. And pricing? NEVER pay more than a $500-$1,000 for someone to write a press release. Ever.
  2. No Value. If you don’t value PR, don’t do PR. Often, PR is perceived as a necessary evil – and a drain on the marketing budget. If the executive team doesn’t believe it can add value, allocate dollars elsewhere. Better yet, have someone explain its value—and how it compares to other communications efforts.
  3. Trust or Bust. If you can’t trust ‘em, fire ‘em. There are quality PR agencies and people who know the rules and boundaries—and have the news noses that matter. Sadly, there are many who don’t.
  4. Play Fair, Play Baseball. Not every news release or PR story idea will be a home run. And nobody hits home runs all the time. Expect PR to be like a baseball game. Sometimes there are first-base hits. Sometimes there are strike-outs. Clarify and manage expectations starting from day one. Be specific. Be real.
  5. Avoid Long Legs. I hate to admit what I’ve seen in my career. I know agencies who strut in the young account ladies to woo the prospects – most of whom were all-male Boomers who lapped up the extravagant beauty in the room. Sexism in galactic proportion. Don’t fall for the oldest trick in the book. Good PR is not sex, sizzle, short skirts and long legs. It’s about news smarts, big ideas, hard work and persistent outreach—and usually works best when involving mature (old), frumpy guys and gals.IMG_8715f
  6. Know What You Pay For. So what should you pay for PR? It depends on scope and breadth, and monthly deliverables, all of which should be in a written plan. I’ve seen consistently successful PR programs for $1,500 per month (a small business client). I also recognize that PR programs can be $10K to $20K/month BUT know what you’re paying for, and avoid nickel-and-dimers.
  7. Madness Over Metrics. It’s the PR Achilles Heel. How the hell do you measure the value of a story in The Dallas Morning News? Is the story all about you? Are you one of several sources quoted in the article? Is your key message embodied in the story? Do you measure by number of “news hits” or rank stories in terms of message, or both? It’s a nightmare. Business executives rarely care to see anything except “tonnage”—the number of articles that includes the company name or an executive quote. There are tools for PR measurement. They cost a lot. In 25-plus years, I’ve had two clients willing to pay for such services. Work with your PR agency on the metrics. Stick to them and revise, as needed. Without metrics, there is no way to ascertain success.

This is not intended to assume that the PR industry or its people are largely flacks and quacks willing to cheat companies and clients. Not. Most PR people are hard-working, family-loving professionals doing a job. With integrity.

Now, share YOUR experience working with PR professionals.

Keep it PRactical.



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Filed under CEO, news release, PR, PR agencies, press release, Public Relations, Small Business

So my career-long assumption IS correct!

So my career-long assumption IS correct! #pr

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Filed under PR, Public Relations, Roy G. Miller

When your company stuff is “dusty” and “ratchet”: My teen talks

Having several days away from the office and doing very little but hanging with a triple threat of my kids–teenagers (18, 14 and 10 — he thinks he’s one)–brought new revelation to this world we call communications, marketing, PR and social media. I just had no idea.

Cases in point:

  • Dad, that music is so dusty.
  • Really, Dad, the shirt is so ratchet.
  • Dad, don’t use the word stud, you obviously don’t know what it means.

Well then. I stand corrected and a bit baffled by my apparent ignorance — and command of the English language.

“Pray, tell me oh wonderful fruits of my loins, please share thy greatness and wisdom.”

And so they did.

  • First, “dusty” is the equivalent of “so yesterday.” I’d call that obsolete (Dad, that terms is so dus– …).
  • Ratchet. The shirt, it’s gross, ugly. Really downhill, outdated. Stupid. Ratchet. Thanks for the advice, and the kindness in which you shared.
  • Then there’s stud. What once was a genetically groomed horse with fantastic DNA is no more. It has something to do with bi-sexuals … I stopped their Wikopedia-ish insights. Who cares.

Later that same evening as I lamented my new “ratchet” shirt, I realized I had seen some pretty ratchet websites of late, most of which suffered an overdose of, u-m-m-m, dusty-ness.

uglyshirtIt’s 2013. Now is the time to evaluate your marketing collaterals, websites — and how you and your business are communicating to those who buy your products and services. For those companies that still have a Visitor Counter on the top of the webpage, ALERT! That’s dusty and ratchet.

If your color scheme mirrors the earth tones of the 70s, that’s another sign of problems. Have we mentioned animated gifs, Times Roman fonts and the stock photos you can find on almost any other website within your industry?

Time for a refresh? If your site hasn’t been polished in the last 18 to 24 months, take a look, navigate through it, read it and get the opinions of others (none of which report to you).

With a refresh in look, feel and message, there’s more to consider. What is your marketing mix? Have you been doing the same old ads and direct-mail that’s worked since Devo was the music rage? And if social media isn’t part of your mix, think why and why not. It may not be strategic for you. But it may.

Avoid Dusty. Run from Ratchet.

It’s painful to hear. Acknowledge. Accept.


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Filed under Dallas, Dallas PR agencies, marketing communications, PR, Public Relations, Uncategorized

It’s Not Practical. It’s Personal.

I’m proud to call myself the PRactical PR Guy. Through one lens, I see this week’s baby killings as a crisis of epic proportions — a crisis of community and literally dozens of organizations ill equipped (perhaps) for an unexpected slaughter–police, a school district, hospitals and health care organizations–even politicians with their callous opportunism.

The reality is, none of that matters to this Guy, for now anyway. I’m a Dad first. A human being who can’t fathom the shock and horror of a Dad getting a call on his cell to be told that his little one may be dead. The long commute and the bank account with that loud sucking sound just don’t seem that important anymore.

How much does it matter  that there’s a medical examiner who may be seen as  “too giddy” to be in the limelight, or whether police could tell us what the children were wearing when they were gunned down (Did a reporter really ask that question?). I’m the Dad of a high school senior, a 9th grade daughter and a 5th-grade boy. They are the Triple Crown of my life. They are the treasures that will always shine bright in this ornate chest called life. Losing any of them for any reason at any time is unfathomable. But as 6-year-olds, just as they throttle me with “why Dad?”, learn to tie their shoes, giggle through  goobersmooches–and sing along to Barney (let’s not go there). Well, it’s too much to handle. Seemingly. My sister and I have always agreed. “You can mess with me, you can mess with my spouse–you can mess with anything EXCEPT, do not mess with my kids.” Doing so will reap a grave response. First response. Hellish response. Good or bad, right or wrong, It Just Is. It’s that simple.

It’s time to grieve, reflect–and to pray for every parent who faces a gaping wound much more painful than those blasted by a mentally ill boy. The parents face a lifetime of loss. That’s why we pray. That’s why we feel rage and sadness. And disgust.

Sleep little children. Sleep.  Horror found you, but it is no more. I see your faces high in the blue yonder somewhere. A heavenly site. Little ones romping and rolling through the grass, hiding from Peek-A-Boo Dad, discovering a lizard on a brick (Why shouldn’t Heaven have lizards?).  And waiting on Mom and Dad to come join the fun.

That’s what I choose to see. It helps. And brings a little smile to my face.

Blessings to all those in the whirlwind of tragedy.

My kids rock. May blessings and safety be upon you forever.


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Filed under journalism, Media, PR, Public Relations, Social Media, Uncategorized

What’s Newsworthy? Execs, listen up

it’s IHOP and a 1:1 coffee break with a colleague–a company founder and executive–and he’s excited. His $5 million tech company has secured three new clients in the last two weeks. And the new website and partner portal are one pinch from being launched.

“I want us to announce it big–do a news release. Let everyone know that our website is spiffed up. It’s sweet.”

I fight back a yawn while remaining intensely focused on my colleague. How many times have  I sat face to face with a company leader who wants to announce a website re-launch. Dozens of times.

ImageSo my executive friends and business colleagues, please know that your communications consultant isn’t being cynical or superior when he or she resists your suggestion–or dictate–to do a news release about websites or version 3.4256758 of your software.

They’re doing their job. They’re making you look smart while advancing their reputation. Reporters receiving useless “news” go Pavlov when consistently receiving junk from a specific PR person or company. The more crap you send, the louder that Pavlovian “bell” rings and they react: Delete. Deny. Junk it. The DANGER: When you do have real news–real news–that bell will dispel your coverage opportunity.

Newsworthiness matters. It takes diligence, questioning, examining, pushing for validation and key points, identifying what are newsworthy elements–and what will the reporter/writer consider news? A Dallas Morning News reporter wants local relevance; A reporter at Supermarket News wants industry relevance. Your PR person knows the story angle, hooks, and what individual reporters really want.

What did my news radar target when meeting at IHOP with my CEO friend? Not “news release about our website.” I heard New Customers. That’s the news, especially if it’s in a niche industry, the customer offers innovation or is a top brand or publicly held company.

Executives, listen to your PR rep. Leverage their expertise.

PR friends, don’t crank a release out just because the boss “expects it.” Do your best to be strategic, to advise–even politely resist. Let your boss–and his or her boss–know there are other ways and better ways to Tell The Story.

Discover the real news. It matters.

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Filed under Media, news release, PR, press release, Public Relations, Small Business

Don’t use Media Advisory or FIR, and what really matters

Interesting LinkedIn chatter about a recent article, 8 reasons PR pros shouldn’t use “media advisory” any more. The premise is that media advisory and terms like For Immediate Release are unnecessary, perhaps antiquated.

My big problem is the author’s ongoing term of “story pitch” and “news release” and “media advisory,” all of which seemed to be referenced as the same thing. They are not synonymous terms.

  • Story Pitch: I write and e-mail a specific story pitch to a specific reporter at a specific publication. It’s personal, substantive (idea, sources, facts, etc.) and designed to entice the reporter into a solid story.
  • News Release: I send a news release to an editor and/or reporter (and others within his or market, industry, etc.). It starts with a greeting, shares a key point or two, then directs them to the news release (below) or to a specific weblink. It usually includes “For Immediate Release”  for good reason. It’s news. It’s timely.
  • Media Advisory. I like what the author said about media advisories: “… save the phrase for straight forward, nuts and bolts news releases that accomplish little more than share information …” except that, well the media advisory is a … media advisory . Not a news release. Sigh. The advisory is short and sweet, provides the Who/What/When/Where/Why and support info.

Bottom line, PR pros better know the difference between a story pitch, a news release and a media advisory, and how to best communicate news, ideas and insights to editors and reporters.  Twenty-five years of PR work tells me that reporters getting good ideas, newsworthy content and quality story sources don’t care if you send an e-mail with “BingaBangaBoom” in the subject or text window as long as the BingaBangaBoom relates to their readers.

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Filed under Copywriting, Media, PR, practical pr, Public Relations

To be or not to be … Join a professional association?

I confess. I let it get to me. Then it became a root of bitterness.

And today? I think the fog is lifting and I’m realizing that where I was and what I felt was more about me than “them.”

The story is this. I spent almost two decades actively involved in an association of professional communicators. I worked my tail off, volunteered and worked to do my best at every job I took on. I loved being part of the membership team, leading board members and taking pride in the group’s 300-member organization. It’s humbling to think of this privilege. It was, indeed, a privilege to work with so many talented people. And then somehow—in my stressed-out brain— I saw the group change. I essentially walked away, mumbling and grumbling. No membership renewal for me, thank you very much.

Today, total regret.

So what can you learn from my experience? First, don’t let stress, anxiety and busyness distort your reality. Make sure your “what is” is real” not Memorex. Also recognize that associations are full of people. That always means incredible results but also incredible differences, temperaments and intentions.

To Join Or Not?

Ready to shell out a few hundred bucks? Ready to advance your career? Ready to create relationships that can last a lifetime? Ready to face people that get on your last nerve?

The unequivocal answer is YES if:

  • You choose to participate, be active and contribute
  • Your intentions are to receive and give. Don’t join just to add to your resume or show up to win awards (There are WAY too many of those … You know who you are).
  • You desire peers who can be mentors and colleagues. These men and women are the ones who influence who hires you, or become those you hire. Active members know who is in it for themselves vs. those ready to contribute. Classic sign #1: A long-time but ever-absent member—or former member—suddenly gets friendly, shows up for every event, starts helping out. It’s obvious. They’ve been laid off and need job leads.
  • You want to grow professionally. That means education as well as connections with other professionals. Scary, but let’s do a little math (not our forte as creative types.) Example? You’re an active member of an association that meets every month. You attend every one, which means you’ve spent two hours a month at a luncheon of 50 people per luncheon. That equals the potential to meet 50 business colleagues every month. That’s 600 contacts a year. What’s more staggering?It’s much more than that! You’re really meeting 12,500 contacts every year. I’ll explain this the next bullet below.
  • If you want to commit and volunteer. More math. What if you volunteered five or six hours a month and worked with five other committee members? That’s 60 hours a year with five other smart and connected professional communicators. You’re building deep relationships. KEY POINT regarding your committee colleagues and luncheon buddies: Every person you know has his or her own sphere of influence. That sphere per person is typically about 250 people. So:
    • Five committee members with “the sphere of 250” equals 1,250 you could potentially meet and know.
    • For luncheons? Take your 50 luncheon attendees, multiply them by 12 luncheon meetings and you get 12,500. I
    • The numbers–and opportunities–are staggering. Just by attending meetings and volunteering, you have access (potentially) to 13,750 people who could hire you or work for you. Hellooooo.
    • KEY POINT  #2: This requires an association of members that understands the practice of giving. As Genie Fuller, president of CEO Partners, says, “What you give to others, you get in return, 10-fold.”

The bottom line: Join. Jump in. Or sit in the lonely garden and watch “The Shriveling Career Vine” grow. Get stale. Stay lonely.


Get a step up, engage and attend those meetings. Don’t forget to volunteer.

And when people disappoint or frustrate, face it. Accept it. And forgive it. Your career depends on it. Mine too.

One last note to the men and women of that association I grumbled and mumbled about? I’m sorry. Please forgive the shortsightedness. I’m on the road. I’ll see you soon.

The PRactical PR Guy

 IABC DALLAS$287/year plus $40 application fee
 PRSA DALLAS$290/year
$475/year plus $150 application fee

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