3 ways corporate media relations get more dangerous than tequila
Updated: Feb 16
#1 You get numb
My favourite lyric about tequila is, ‘I drank so much that my hair got drunk’ by Steve Goodman and John Prine, How Much Tequila (Did I Drink Last Night?)
Organisations which have got ‘drunk’ on their own communications become numbed to the outside world. Their processes of publishing self-curated social media content, and measuring it with internally agreed metrics, create a false sense of relevance and security. So, it can be extremely painful to wake up to media headlines and stories about your business generated by the outside world.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with self-curated social media content or internally agreed metrics. Buuuuuuut, they are not preparation for working with journalists.
When I ‘crossed the floor’ into corporate communications I was astonished, then horrified, by how poorly businesses understand the strict rules and processes journalists must work by. Even PR agency and in-house communication people were easily bullied by clients or business leaders demanding things which are NEVER going to happen e.g., that they get copy approval, or the journalist change their published story.
Media work is hugely risky, and you can take that risk and multiply it by 100% if you are doing it arms-length. You the business owner, need to be personally accountable for aligning walking the walk and talking the talk. Would you make Finance or Legal a subset of Marketing? So why do that with the commodity of your reputation?
#2 You can’t explain who you are
Carrie Underwood sings, ‘I don't even know my last name’ after a night on the Cuervo in Last Name.
An inability to articulate a business identity is, in my experience, the biggest danger to successful media relations. When I worked as a journalist, I reckon I was pitched at least 100,000 stories. The first thing I would do was scroll down the press release to check the source, then consider if this was their story to tell as I read through. If a description of the source was missing or it didn’t align with the story, I wouldn’t respond. Many businesses fail to include around 50 words which describe the business. And those that do frequently make the mistake of including something meaningless which bring us to …
#3 You start doing big shot-speaking
The Eagles ‘wonder why the right words never come’ despite doing shots in Tequila Sunrise.
Imagine yourself as the only designated driver at the end of a wedding. That is what it feels like to be a journalist when people pitch at you that they are ‘rockstars’ who are ‘making the world a better place’ with ‘like, well, you know, hmm, it’s kinda amazing and revolutionary, let me tell you about how it all started’.
This is also why you get employees saying, ‘what’s our mission statement again?’ despite it being painted in 2ft high letters on the walls in front of them. If you put multi-shot Tequila-speak out there nobody sober is going to care about, remember or trust it.