Anyone who KNOWS me, really knows me, knows that I get annoyed at PR firms. I thought I had mellowed in my old age and really hadn’t been set off. Then I get an email today…
SBC leader Acme Packet (www.acmepacket.com) used to have a very good PR firm. I got regular briefings at trade shows from the product manager(s) when I was writing for VON and the other publications I was associated with, occasionally got quality time with senior level executives who provided further insight into the thinking and personality of the company.
About a year ago, Acme switched PR firms. And suddenly everything just stopped.
No press releases, no regular briefings, na-da.
If memory serves, the last time I had a briefing with Acme was probably a year ago, at Metaswitch Forum. I met with Acme’s new VP of Marketing, complained that 1) the new PR firm had sent out some generic pitch written by a just-out-of-college “associate” that made it sound like I didn’t know the first thing about Acme and 2) Then stopped sending me press releases at all.
Fast forward to today. I get an email from one of the execs of above-mentioned PR firm who wants to set up a briefing with Acme because a few weeks ago I wrote a story about Metaswitch’s (www.metaswitch.com) Permeta SBC and now wants to have a “conversation.”
And…“We know we haven’t had the opportunity to speak with you in awhile, apologies for that in advance.”
NO, you didn’t CREATE the opportunity, so now you’re starting cold after Acme has done a whole bunch of things to build up the company over the past year. Newsworthy things. Things that would have been appropriate for at least two of the publications I contribute to.
Acme Packet is no slouch. I would wager they are paying anywhere between $5,000 to $10,000 (or more) per month for this PR firm to represent them. So let’s break this down–
1) When new PR first gets the account a year ago, it gets a rookie wage-slave to send out some lame-ass pitch in an email blast, rather than taking 5 minutes to make a list of people who have written about Acme over the past 24 months and then taking a more personal approach.
I may not love Microsoft, but its PR firm does its homework in spades. Never would have done a bush-league stunt in the first place.
2) After a month, it becomes clear I’m not getting press release in email. I complain. NOthing happens.
3) Today, I get an email that comes over/occurs because I’ve written a story about Metaswitch’s entry in to the SBC marketplace.
I start writing about potential competitors to Acme and suddenly the PR firm wants to offer a “conversation.” After a year.
Hmm, in the time since Acme Packet’s PR firm has set up a briefing or sent out a press release NEARLY A YEAR, the company has–
a) Been named by Fortune among the world’s 100 fastest growing public traded companies
b) Added some executives, changed others (Congrats on the promotion Seamus! Your PR firm didn’t tell me…)
c) Racked up all kinds of record revenue and earnings over the past number of quarters
d) Expanded its headquarters
e) Enhanced its platforms to do hardware-based transcoding
f) Adding new high-end-carrier grade platforms…
Seriously, do I have to go on? Acme Packet has obviously done a lot of things since October 2010.
Emailing press releases and making an occasional phone call/inquiry to writers is what PR firms are supposed to do.
Showing up at my doorstep because I write something about a potential competitor’s entry into the marketplace after a year doesn’t win anyone any points.
*** UPDATE at 2:45 PM ET***
PR is as much about ongoing relationships as it is about news. I’m not talking about fancy dinners or brown-nosing, I’m talking about a level of comfort and steady involvement/engagement between a PR firm and the media.