Liver by any other name, well, just call it liver. Dress it up with gravy, corn or peas, but liver will never be a juicy cut of steak slathered with A.1®. Sauce, a mouth-watering filet mignon or a burger beefed up with cheese and bacon. It can never be the other white meat, it will always be beef. And whatever name you use, it still tastes like liver and I will not, cannot and could not think of eating it. But not that my mom did not try.
Growing up on a farm, when you butcher your own cattle, you get left with a lot of leftovers which includes a freezer full of tongue, Rocky Mountain oysters and liver, when all the rest found its way to a plate. My mom knew this, and she would call liver any other name but liver in hopes I would eat it. Sometimes it would almost work. I’d take a nibble or two and then question the cut. Sometimes simply the look would throw me into a toddler-like tantrum.
When it comes to PR, you get plenty of liver. Good stories, full of iron. They beef up a company, but rarely do they suit everyone’s palate – the specialized, niched and super-quirky pitches. As business owners, we want to pitch everyone everywhere every story, because we want to believe everyone everywhere loves to know everything we do. But you would not serve a plate of liver, steak or stew meat at a meeting of the American Vegan Society (yes, it exists – http://www.americanvegan.org).
So as PR professionals, we cannot serve every story to everyone. We need to know the menu, our audience, and what they like and want to eat. Blame it (or credit it to) technology, but journalism evolved in the last decade into the Mall of America, filled with amusement parks, Subways, Hooters and lots of stores, each catering to a unique audience. If we want to create effective (and efficient from an opportunity cost perspective) pitches, we need to know what our audience wants and to not waste their time with what we think, or hope they will like. As advertisers, we research what works and what doesn’t, and PR must follow the same philosophy. It may seem like I’m serving up some strained peas, easy and obviously little chewing required, but so often (as I remember from being a journalist receiving emails every day from the launch of a Bosnian eat-on-a-dime cookbook to pitches about throwing the perfect children’s party with a budget of $20,000 when I reported on courts, cops and crime). When we pitch to the masses, they pitch our idea in the trash. Instead, we need to know the reporters, the blogs and the beats that care most about what idea we want to sell them. We must find the unique angles, and then serve our stories up on a silver platter. I admit, I am as guilty as my mom at trying, wanting and hoping someone will eat what I dish up. I pitched faux-Facebook websites like a pop-up-shop on a random street corner pushing the latest Louis Vuitton bag, and I would pitch to anyone and everyone because my client wanted a story on the front page of the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. That’s when a slice of humble pie helps for all involved. Communicating to clients also becomes critical so they know why and how you want to reach the people you believe will be most interested in them.
Now I’m kind of hungry with all this talk of food. I think I’ll grab a delivery menu for pizza tonight.
– Jolene Loetscher