Sunday, September 6, 2009

"The __ Rules you Need to Follow to Succeed at _____"

I get a lot of email, partly because I subscribe to email lists and newsletters, or because I'm in several LinkedIn groups. On the whole, much of what I get is plain annoying, but every once in a while, I find a nugget that is helpful to me, either by clearly demonstrating what to do or, in some cases, what NOT to do.

Today, it's the latter.

As a PR pro, I often use the tactic of having a client draw up a list of 10, seven or five items that can be pushed to media as a "tip sheet." It usually helps generate some publicity in a needed outlet and everyone is happy.

Here's what I never do: send out a list that says something like: "Ten tips that ensure Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/SEO Success." Or, what I find personally offensive: "All you Need to Know to Succeed in PR for your Company."

Simply put, there aren't five or 10 tips that ensure success in anything. If there were, people like me - or the publishers of such lists - wouldn't be in business. If it was THAT easy, everyone would be enjoying success. (What would be more honest would be to entitle the list, "Here are 10 important points to know about _____ and what I'm really hoping is that you will be impressed by my knowledge and call me."

Sure, there are certain general rules one ought to follow. In PR, for example, one must know the outlet before pitching. One must know how to write properly in whatever language it is s/he is operating. One must understand how various media outlets operate, when they are on deadline and what constitutes relevant news for that outlet.

But every client is different. Every one is in a slightly different position. I don't think my clients would want me to take a cookie-cutter approach and simply swap their name for the previous client's.

Moral of the story: be wary of lists that over-simplify. Read with a critical eye and take advice from people you trust.

No comments: