“Co-Producing”: Don’t hate us for being good publicists.

I was surprised when Heather Champine, our vice president of Media Production, forwarded the following email. Apparently the last marketing letter she wrote ruffled this fellow’s feathers. Heather mentioned that when our publicists book stories for our clients, they co-produce the stories along with the media. Here’s what he had to say:

“Co-producing” news? Are you kidding me? A marketing agency?

Ridiculous.

It’s one thing to pitch a good story to a reporter or producer. But to take credit for the production of the story?

Laughable. Your company should be embarrassed. I wonder if your “publicists” tell the reporters they’ll be “co-producing” the stories, wonder how that would go over in the newsroom?

By the way, ever been in a newsroom?

Hey, I’ll make a deal with you: If you can find one reporter at a major metropolitan daily to admit that he or she let you or one of your “publicists” “co-produce” a news article, I’ll hire your firm. Deal?

Please allow me to reply to his email, one insult at a time.

“Co-producing” news? Are you kidding me? A marketing agency?

Ridiculous.

I’d like to see him say that to my publicists’ faces. I can hear the battle cries now. Our publicists work incredibly hard, spending hours and hours handling every little nuance of a placement including supplying credible spokespeople; reliable resources such as studies, statistics, facts and trends; testimonials; photos for print media; props for television; and whatever else the media require to produce our client’s story.

It’s one thing to pitch a good story to a reporter or producer. But to take credit for the production of the story? Laughable.

The only thing laughable is that this guy thinks all we do is pitch a good story. I will give him this, though: Most people would be shocked if they knew how much sway PR firms such as ours have over what appears in the media. Reporters and products need new stories every day. They are incredibly busy and often understaffed. We fill that gap by doing the work for them. We think up the concepts, contact the companies, provide the resources — and the media love us. Who wouldn’t love a team of smart people who do your work for you?

We work our tails off behind the scenes and consider our relationship with the media to be a valuable partnership. We rely on them, and yes, they rely on us. The symbiotic relationship of marketing companies and PR firms working closely with the media is the basis for much of our country’s business news today.

Your company should be embarrassed. I wonder if your “publicists” tell the reporters they’ll be “co-producing” the stories, wonder how that would go over in the newsroom?

To be honest, if this was discussed in a newsroom, the truth would probably hurt a bit. That’s because the media have cultivated an image that’s incongruent with what goes on behind the scenes. When you see a doctor on the morning news discussing the latest cancer research, why do you think that story and doctor are on the air? Is it because the health beat reporter for the TV network phones the cancer research lab every day, checking on the results of cancer studies? No way. You can bet your scrambled eggs there is a PR firm that is heavily involved. They are the ones who brought the “story” to the attention of the media, and they have been busy gathering and coordinating all the story elements; sending over study results from the lab; choosing and coaching an appropriate doctor; preparing testimonials from survivors who have benefited or expect to benefit from the research; and coordinating everyone’s travel and schedules. Then the story airs. And who takes the credit? The media. Is there anything wrong with that? No. But far from being embarrassed about our role in bringing business news to the public, we are proud of it.

By the way, ever been in a newsroom?

Well actually, yes, quite often. Not only have we arranged (read co-produced) tens-of-thousands of stories over the last 25 years, many of our publicists came into their positions fresh from jobs as news people across media types. We make it a priority to hire former reporters and producers as publicists, simply because they understand exactly what the news media need to produce a story that satisfies our clients.

Hey, I’ll make a deal with you: If you can find one reporter at a major metropolitan daily to admit that he or she let you or one of your “publicists” “co-produce” a news article, I’ll hire your firm. Deal?

We could certainly do that, but this guys doesn’t really fit our client profile. Our clients understand the power of being included in the tide of media stories that flood the nation every day. They hire us not because we can get some reporter to admit we helped them, but because we are in the habit of going the extra mile to get the story. We call that co-producing.

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Lonny Kocina

Lonny is a visionary who is passionate about marketing. He believes that to be a truly great agency, our professional advice and deliverables must be based on a solid marketing foundation. He has made it his mission to ensure that everyone on our team knows and understands the basic marketing concepts and the SAM 6 process. Lonny pioneered the concept of our nationally trademarked Pay Per Interview Publicity® business model which enables clients to purchase publicity by the story. “It’s a familiar concept. If you pay for a pizza, you get a pizza; if pay for a car, you get a car; and with us, if you pay for media coverage, you get media coverage,” he explains. “Clients come to us because they are tired of paying hourly retainers and getting little tangible return.” When the Internet was in its infancy, Lonny also had the business foresight to quickly reserve portal web addresses such as publicity, media relations and checkerboard, and advised clients to do the same. Nearly 30 years since launching this agency, Lonny’s still finds great joy thinking about, talking about and writing about product promotion. He thrives on expanding our ability to help clients tell their stories to the masses.

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