EMSI Public Relations
my role as the head of
a PR firm, one of the most common misconceptions I see has to do
with the superlatives people choose to describe themselves.
Now, I’m not referring to how the
media positions someone, but rather how someone seeking PR wants
to refer to him or herself.
I once overheard my senior strategist, Tony Panaccio, having a
conversation with a client about what their tagline should be.
It went something like this:
Client: So, what should I call myself?
Tony: I’m not sure what you mean.
Client: Well, when I identify myself to the media.
Tony: Well, your name is Jim, right (not the actual name)?
Tony: So, why don’t we stick with that? It’s short, concise and
happens to be, you know, your name.
Client: That’s not what I meant. I was trying to think of
Tony: Okay, how about “James?”
It went on like that for a bit, until Tony was able to explain
to the client that it’s not kosher to try to “name” yourself to
Taglines can work well for people who have their own radio or TV
shows, but for those just breaking into the spotlight, it
actually has the reverse effect than intended. The media is a
cynical, somewhat sensitive league of professionals, not unlike
Tony, actually. When they see a name they’ve never seen before
with a tagline they’ve never seen before, it strikes them as odd
and out of place. In fact, many will turn their noses up at
those self-made designations.
We often get folks who want to attach all kinds of superlative
descriptions of themselves in their bios like “genius,”
“brilliant,” “guru.” The point is that those in the media will
come up with the nicknames and catchy taglines as they see fit,
once they have come to understand that person’s experience is
real. They are the ones who get to determine who the gurus are
and not the prospective gurus themselves.
Further along those lines, some have tried to attach the terms
“groundbreaking,” “innovative” and even “spectacular” to
describe their products or their books. The problem is that the
media feels they are the ones who will determine if someone or
something fits those descriptions. When people are positioned
that way as part of a pitch or an article, it can be offensive
and it immediately raises the question as to the validity of
that designation. That’s why using superlatives about yourself
in order to establish your credibility, typically results in
exactly the opposite effect.
That’s why I don’t call myself anything like “The PR Mechanic”
or “The Marketing Maven,” as others in the industry call
themselves. It’s not for me to make those calls. It’s up to you
and the media to determine that I’m deserving of some kind of
title to show my expertise.
In the meantime, just call me Marsha. If you do that, you’re far
more likely to get my attention.
Marsha Friedman is a 21-year veteran of the
public relations industry. She is the CEO of
Public Relations, a national firm that provides PR strategy
and publicity services to corporations, entertainers, authors
and professional firms.
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