Saturday, May 10, 2008
Brass tack #16. Offer incentives
Any relationship counsellor will tell you that one secret to a successful love-match is to offer the occasional surprise in the form of a gift. As a PR person you would certainly want to offer incentives to journalists but the big question is, what’s the difference between an incentive and a bribe? This is taking us into ethical territory.
Some gifts may be symbolic – the gift of friendship, of always being there when needed. So friendly gestures can provide good incentives for the journalist to keep calling you. Always welcome calls and emails from journalists as they follow up your story, reward them with your smile (even when talking to them on the phone) and make them realise that nothing is too much trouble – at least within reason.
Gestures like – ‘I’ve got some more background information for you. Why don’t I drop it round your office on my way home – I’ll buy you a coffee/beer/sandwich (delete as appropriate) if you’ve got a few minutes’ - these can go a long way if handled carefully and don’t appear too pushy.
Is a coffee a bribe? No – not compared with VIP tickets to Wimbledon or an invitation to a reception on your yacht on the Med with a private jet on standby to get him/her there.
On a professional level the best incentive is your availability and reliability as a source of news. If you can answer questions quickly, provide usable quotes and recognise the pressure of their deadline, your name will soon be the most thumbed page of the journalist's contacts book. And if you and the journalist get on and enjoy each other’s company, it makes their job and yours so much more pleasant.
Isn’t that really the essence of good PR?
media relations press release journalists incentives