During the summer, I work on events a lot. Similar to war, event PR is super fluid. You need a plan at the outset, but once battle begins you must be flexible to win the day.
Knowing who and what you’re dealing with are critical to success.
In the interest of sharing, here is a short field guide to help you identify various types of Fourth Estaters:
- The Diva. The Diva is easily spotted. They’re either hot, or think they are. This breed tend to work in TV. They spend considerably more time on their hair than on learning the facts of a story. This propensity is compounded by the reality that “The Diva” never really wanted to be a journalist. Alas, dashed hopes of being a model/actor led him/her to the world of news. All this to say, when you encounter “The Diva” in the field proceed with peril. The right look and hurricane proof hairspray take precedence over good reporting , so you will need to reiterate key facts and messages over and over (and over) again.
- The Cub. This breed looks and acts like the child it is. Cubs are full of piss and vinegar and tend to be imbued with a sense of zeal (as they are fresh outta J-school). They’ll be demanding, pushy and generally unpleasant if they don’t get what they want (think of a petulant four-year old who has its candy taken away). Don’t worry too much though, the Cub is not sent to cover stories of major consequence and is easily handled.
- The Old Curmudgeon (a.k.a. The Ink Stained Wretch). You’ll be able to spot this type of journalist by their appearance. They tend to be dishevelled, carry a beat up notepad, wear a media badge that looks as though it was created in 1965 and dress in clothing that was probably never cool. This breed almost always works in print, an important fact to remember because the bad business situation of that medium really angers “The Old Curmudgeon,” and references to it should be avoided at all costs. The Curmudgeon tends to hate PR people since they make loads more cash then him/her and “get in the way of God’s work” (Yes, Curmudgeons actually view journalism as the work of a deity). Handle this group with care and be prepared for brusque behaviour.
- The Bigtime Blogger. This species has risen to a place of prominence in the last 5 to 7 years. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on what industry they focus on (i.e. – the bigtime fashion blogger may be rather dishy, whereas the bigtime tech blogger may tend toward the geekier side of things). While not easily distinguished by appearance, the Bigtime Blogger has evolved into a rather entitled species. You’ll know them when they start talking. They want it…”and now!!!” Swag? You better have a fleet of semi-trucks ready, because the Bigtime Blogger expects plenty of it – in sharp contrast to the Old Curmudgeon of print, who will take none of it on principle. Another trait that gives away this group is their utter disdain for “old media,” which they universally declare “dead” (yes, Chris Anderson, who calls everything “dead,” is a hero to most Bigtime Bloggers). In other words, you may want to keep Bigtime Bloggers and Old Curmudgeons separated, or risk a fist fight.
That’s it for now. I hope this field guide helps you identify media and win the day. As G.I. Joe says “knowing is half the battle.”