“For the last ten years, I’ve advised our clients to rework their relationships with their PR agencies. As you might imagine, this has led to a lot of pushback from my friends in the PR industry. Many of them are still committed to their bread and butter—the relationships they’ve built with their press contacts. Unless you’re a giant firm representing Oprah or Obama or Meryl Streep, those relationships are deeply personal. But even so, the PR team has to ask for their client to be quoted or featured; this means the power lies with the publication, not with the agency
or the client. Not ideal.”
– Christine Merser, Founder, Blue2 Media
PR teams have spent years—sometimes decades—cultivating their press relationships. Rather than adapting with the times and regrouping to become a jet-skier kind of PR team, many of them have forged ahead toward obscurity, like the Titanic toward the iceberg, as once-great entities like Blockbuster and Kodak and network television have done before them.
While this has been unfolding, others, like our team at Blue Shoe, have started picking up the slack and providing opportunities for our marketing clients to get exposure. Yes, we’ve occasionally done this through print—we texted all kinds of pictures of Meryl Streep at a private showing of India's Daughter to the Associated Press. But we’ve usually focused on going after the print press all in one swoop. No phone calls necessary. We didn't have to cultivate one-on-one relationships, which would have driven up the labor and financial cost of those efforts… big time.
Our client Brian Walls, of Walls Financial, attending the India's Daughter premiere.
The opportunities that the internet and social media have created to place content and get clients noticed have allowed our marketing team to combine print and digital PR efforts into one simple process. As a result, we’ve grown our clients’ reach. By a lot. They may not be on the front page of the New York Times—but that doesn’t really matter anymore, because we’ve been able to effectively place them in front of their target audiences. And sometimes, they’ve even had fun doing it. Here’s an example to show you what I mean. For five years, we did the Hampton Classic Horse Show's social media during the week-long competition. The market? Luxury, baby. Big time. High rollers, big spenders, fashion icons. The demographic? High-income individuals and their families—not to mention hundreds of thousands of equestrian lovers from all over the world following both the event and the results.
Part of our compensation package with the Hampton Classic was the use of one of their chalets, as well as a VIP table under Blue Shoe's brand. What did we do with it? We hosted a Ladies' Luncheon, celebrating two not-for-profits for women (who were also our clients)—Empower Her Network, and Friends of New York City Nurse-Family Partnership. Both the groups sent their Executive Directors, who made five-minute pitches to the attendees. We also had an Olympic female rider come and give a short speech on courage and drive. Our local clients were invited too, and each was able to bring five guests.
The event was a sell-out. Money was raised for the groups. Women networked. Women posted all over social media, which raised awareness and also allowed them to promote their own commitment to women. I did interviews for local television, and we invited other press to come and take pictures. Here are a few of them…
Local Blue Shoe clients in attendance included antique and home design gurus Chris Mead and Zoe Hoare, as well asSarah Minardi (dressed in red on the left), one of Saunders Real Estate's major producers.
National clients included mortgage banker Melissa Cohn (being interviewed here by Christine Merser of Blue Shoe), one of the foremost mortgage bankers in the country.
Melissa Cohn did a series of short videos that engaged, entertained,
National clients also included InProduction, the largest purveyor of seating, staging, and scenic for such “minor” events as the US Open, PGA tournaments, presidential debates, Coachella…
This is what we consider the new PR. It’s not a mention of a name in a newspaper or magazine that someone may read, probably won’t remember, and almost certainly won’t look up; instead, it’s action. Demonstrating your personality. Presenting yourself to your client base in a way that makes them understand who you are and what you stand for.
PR meets marketing. Never one without the other. You will not see PR as a standalone aspect of the offering at Blue2 Media, which launches next month—but it's all part of the same four-course meal that should make up your brand development and client service
This article is part of our series around our thirty years in business. August has us looking back … and planning for our new Blue2 Media launch in September. We would love to hear your thoughts.