When Your News, Isn’t

August 18, 2014

It’s not easy telling people things they don’t want to hear; in fact it sucks. More than once you’ve likely found yourself being the messenger – the one who begs not to be shot. Sometimes it’s easy, like “hey, you have something on the side of your face” while making a wiping motion on your face. Other times it’s the more painful “I don’t think this is working out.” What makes PR folks cringe? Telling a client “this isn’t news.”

For a majority of the world public speaking tops the list of most feared activities, but for PR folks I believe giving a client bad news or telling them something they don’t want to hear is the most dreaded exercise. Unfortunately there is no way around it; the only real choice is whether to tell them now or later. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to be in the position of breaking the news that the client’s “news”, isn’t newsworthy. Doing it doesn’t get easier with age – it’s a drag,  especially when I know what a big deal {insert topic } is to them personally and to their company.

A perfect example of this: a new website. Even though designing and building a website has become faster and less expensive, for most clients it’s a long, sometimes painful process, that takes more time and more money than initially planned. When the new site goes live, there is relief and excitement – internally – an enthusiasm that some clients believe the whole world should share; but the whole world doesn’t care, and that’s okay. What for some feels newsworthy, isn’t always worthy of being covered, but that doesn’t make it less exciting or something that shouldn’t  be shared with company stakeholders including investors, employees, and customers. Another one: an acquisition of a company no one knows, for an unnamed amount. Reporters are writing for eyeballs, and if ACME CO has no brand, you got no story. One more: a minor product update. Good for the business? Yes. Good for customers? Yes. Something reporters/bloggers would care about? Not usually. If a product did A and now it does A + a little bit of B, its not very interesting – as a news story. Again, good for other constituents, not the media.

It’s never easy saying your baby is ugly, especially when the proud parents have spent so much time/money/energy creating said baby (product/service) but occasionally that’s the way it works out. Not all babies will be pretty and not all news is news.



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