Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Finding a 'Thank You'

Being in the the business of public relations, specifically brand marketing, is often a thank-less job. Day-in and day-out, you work to build out strategic and creative programming to appeal to media... you sit through seminars on pitching... and craft pitches that achieve the perfect balance between witty and informative. Press releases are written. Events are planned. Spokespeople are booked.

This preparation and training eventually leads to sitting on the phone or emailing for hours pitching stories/news to media. At times, you find yourself listening to the voicemail messages of an endless number of editors and producers who seem to always be on deadline and never available for your 10 second practiced and rehearsed pitch (and you can really say a lot in 10 seconds... believe me). You send perfectly tailored email pitches with the most eye-opening subject line that you can imagine... praying that this one time, they will open your e-mail.

Or at other times, the media is eating up your story... you're balancing your day by scheduling interview after interview... nailing the key messages... delivering killer coverage and you end up with a gazillion impressions that often can be hard to directly tie back to sales of a product.

Your mom really has no clue what you do other than market products sold in a grocery store. People compliment you on your brand's advertising. No one can pronounce your agency's name right, and they chuckle when you give them your email address.

And the salary... let's just say is thankless in itself.

Especially in a year when media has changed so dramatically... newspaper staffs have been cut across the country and magazines seem to be dying every day... fighting the same PR vs. media battle can get weary.

But... then days come around when it all seems to click. When months of fighting for a program materializes into something truly mediable. When reporters suddenly embrace what you've been passionate about for what seems an eternity. When you and your team land a placement that you couldn't even dream up.

Today was that day. The ChicagoTribune.com shed some serious love on two of the products I work on. Although I'm not mentioning them by name, (to avoid this blog being picked up by blog monitoring alerts) I will direct you to the articles that speak for themselves.

Even if I send a long, dramatic and overly-excited e-mail to my clients, copying the entire freaking company... and no one responds... I'll still be ecstatic. Because this is why we're here. Clearly not for the 'thank yous' (although they are nice).

We're here for creative processes, the strategic planning sessions and that amazing rush you can get from that perfect mention... Those are the 'thank yous' that give you the extra fuel to keep pitching... the additional confidence to make that one more call. Because although there's a 90 percent chance that either you'll get hung up on or hear another voicemail... it's that 10 percent where the relationships are built, the placements are made... and the programs succeed.

And so, I will file these away into my "heck ya" file... and remember, this actually is a pretty fun job. And be thankful that even after four years of working on the same products... two blog posts in the food section of ChicagoTribune.com can drive me to complete elation, for at least a day.

Until later... keep reading those papers and blogs... and watch out for more good news coming your way!


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