Thirty Years of PR and writing: Top 10 things I’ve learned as a PR agent who’s also crossed over to being a wine blogger
I just realized I’ve been doing PR for 30 years, having started in February 1982. This coming December, I will also have been blogging for the last seven years.
I’m in a bit of a precarious position, being on both sides of the bridge; and have been, since I started blogging in 2005. It also makes me the eye of the bridge, in some ways…
In the world of public relations, PR people play an important role as writers for their clients. I bring this up, because some people don’t actually realize this. We’re seen as people who do lunch (and mocked, sometimes… think “Absolutely Fabulous”). We’re constantly creating a bridge between our clients and the media. I personally find my time better spent writing for my clients, phone calling, and emailing. In fact, lunch is so rare for me that I can’t even remember the last one…
The major differences between a PR person writing and a media person writing are content and who’s paying for it.
By 2004, I started to write publicly on this blog, while still writing for clients. This means that I’ve also become a public writer, as well as a private one.
Having the advantage of sitting on both sides of the fence (which is a great advantage), I make sure that as I write, I’m still using PR principles. This is regardless of the fact that some people hold me to the standards of a journalist. I’m not a journalist, though. I have no desire to break news and uncover the ills of society. Instead, I practice lifestyle writing… finding the good and telling the story. This, for me, is more meaningful, and probably means that not only will my PR career last longer, but my blogging also seems to be taken more to heart.
I’ve learned a few things along the way and feel like sharing… Here are the “Top 10 Things I’ve Learned” looking through both lenses of the telescope…
- Being on both sides of the bridge is a really delicate balance
- Being genuine is an asset
- RSVPing for an event keeps me on the lists
- RSVPing to attend, then not showing up without some reasonable explanation, gets me taken off the list instantly
- But… Pre or post (very soon after the event, with a reasonable explanation for what happened) will at least get me into the gray area
- And, next time, I don’t falter (It’s like what Heidi Klum says on Project Runway, “One day you’re in, and the next day you’re out.”)
- Interviewing and writing about someone
- Writing something that captures the heart and soul of someone puts my article into that person’s favorite story category
- Writing anything derogatory will quickly burn the bridge that was being constructed, so I just don’t do that
- This has to do with my hiring others… If someone is brought in to cover an event, especially if it’s an embedded writer gig, even though that person then chooses to not write about the event… there’s nothing I can do, except not hire the person again
- Being hired has its expectations
- I once hired a writer to spend a week with winemakers and me on the rail (road). I even had his magazine approve the story and was waiting for it. (He would have been paid by two separate sources for one story.) Two months after the trip, I called him to see how it was going. He said, “I know you’re probably not going to like it, but I didn’t find anything worth writing about.” He lived on a train with five winemakers for five days, the train costing us $35,000. He was wined and dined all over the country in major cities, and found nothing to write about? Needless to say, we’ve never communicated again.
- When I don’t have anything nice to write, I remember mom’s advice and at least not name names
- A good story can serve as a parable
- The four rules of writing always apply
- Edit… and repeat until it’s as good as it gets
- I have no problem admitting that I’m sorry, as quickly as possible, because it’s the best PR medicine
- The act of being kind cannot be underestimated and is always appreciated
- What’s the Difference between Wine Marketing and Wine PR? (wine-blog.org)
- PR’s a gift, not a given (wine-blog.org)
- PR Professionals Have A Long Way To Go With Wikipedia (pr.typepad.com)