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COMMENT: Some PR Professionals Lack Basic Skills

I am now fully convinced that one of the things missing with an increasing number of PR professionals operating in the technology market is plain common sense or the most basic understanding of what technology is appropriate to various publications.

Remember, these are so called professional communication advisors whose employers are charging anything between $100 to $300 an hour to deliver PR exposure and advice for technology Companies.

Or alternatively they have been hired as in-house PR to deliver exposure for a brand such as Nintendo.

Last week I got a barrage of calls and press releases from so called PR Professionals offering me stories for SmartHouse which is aimed squarely at the consumer electronics and appliance market, and for ChannelNews which is the #1 web site for organisations selling CE products and service.

More than 50% had no relevancy to SmartHouse ChannelNews or our publications Clik or SoundMag.

There was the press release from PR Company Zing titled ‘What’s in it for White Hats? CSIS Report Reveals Misaligned Incentives’.

According to the Zing copy the story was actually about ‘Intel Security and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) that reveals misaligned incentives between IT professionals who defend against cyber-attacks and the attackers who perpetrate them and highlights ways organisations can learn from cybercriminals to correct these misalignments’.

Wow! A riveting story for someone looking to buy a new TV, smartphone or a piece of sound kit.

Emma Jarrett, an Account Manager at The PR Group sent a press release that read:

‘Hi David, Just reaching out to let you know that Tableau, the leading business intelligence (BI) software, have today announced the general availability of Tableau 10.2.’

She went to say that he new release brings advanced mapping capabilities that make complex geospatial analysis easy, simplifies data prep with new ways to combine and clean data, and gives enterprises more tools to deliver self-service analytics at scale.

She even offered a one on one interview.

Last week alone, I got three telephone calls from PR account managers spruiking press releases for cloud based enterprise level computing as well as two calls about large scale enterprise networking. One Edelman executive tried to sell me a story on Juniper Networks which has zero relevancy to SmartHouse or ChannelNews.

Kirsty Skuller Nintendo PR Manager

But the top prize goes to Kirsty Sculler, the Media & PR Specialist at Nintendo who after several days of us trying to make contact with her, finally returned our calls. (she by the way does not put a telephone number on her press releases and her name is hidden in the email address, unlike most professional PR people who put their name telephone number and contact details on the bottom of a press release.

She then promptly informed us that she had never heard of SmartHouse or ChannelNews this was despite the fact that during the past 12 months Nintendo has sent us over 30 press releases.

We pointed out that we have only been around for 17 years and that during the past 12 months both SmartHouse and ChannelNews had run over 30 Nintendo related stories.

Her training to become a ‘PR Specialist appears to be combination of being a retail shop assistant at Chadstone between 2014 and 2015, and a stint as a Tutor at Swinburne University of Technology along with a few other odd roles involving digital technology.

At the end of the day good PR is about Brand, People and Products.

The onus is on PR Companies to make sure that they are delivering a return on investment for their clients and that involves training staff on the difference between the markets that technology information applies to.

The actions of some PR Companies that I have dealt with during the past week is akin to trying to get a product press release up on recyclable nappies in the Financial Review.

Today it’s all about information as consumers don’t want advertising and to have PR Companies spending hours spruiking the wrong media with the wrong stories is an utter waste of time and money.

After time, media Companies like 4Square Media simply direct press releases to a junk bin if they are constantly irrelevant.

What I suspect is that a lot of PR Companies buy so called Tech Lists.

This gives them a list of tech writers who cover large scale enterprise, networking and cloud based services to writers like ourselves who not only cover the consumer electronics and appliance industries, the gaming market as well as the products sold by manufacturers in these markets.

The bottom line is that cheap staff often equal cheap PR or a lack of PR and for big brands, who are forking out money for PR advice and media consultation, there has to be a better return on investment than a dud bottom end account manager who has been flicked a press release to spruik.

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