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Monday, December 28, 2009

David vs. Goliath?

It's so good to be back.  After taking a short break for a week from the blog, I'm back with more information, tips, insight and advice for small business owner and non-profits.  It's funny because over the holidays a friend of mine asked me if I was certain this blog was such a good idea.  She was concerned that I was angering larger, more established PR firms in the area by giving away their "trade secrets".  She was even concerned that I might upset some folks in local newsrooms because I was allowing people to "peek behind the curtain" of traditional media, so to speak.

It made me think, and then chuckle.  She compared me to a tiny David slinging stones at the goliaths.  It's a legitimate question, if not an apt analogy, to what I'm trying to do here.  It got me thinking and, while I don't want to spend a lot of time on this topic, I did want to say something about it.  Briefly, I wanted to say this:  I am not concerned about upsetting anyone in the "business" whether they be in PR or journalism.  It's not that I don't care what they think, I do.  I'm not concerned because, first, my priority is to help small businesses and non-profits succeed.  As a longtime journalist, a PR professional and one-time small business owner, I know the challenges that smaller organizations face, from funding, to staffing to decisions over paying a bill or paying a consultant to help you generate business so you can eventually not have to worry about paying that bill.

I also know that journalists and public relations folks are human beings (believe it or not, they are).  They don't like seeing businesses fail.  They aren't some curmudgeons sitting behind large oak desks rooting for organizations to go under.  It's just that they're under very stringent deadlines and financial considerations, like everyone else.  Throw in the fact that the entire universe of journalism and PR is changing by the second, and they simply don't have the time to spend on issues or organizations they perceive to be unimportant.  Well, perhaps unimportant is the wrong word here.  It's not that they view you as unimportant, just a lot lower on their list of priorities. 

Let's face it, while your organization is one of the most important things in your world, in their world, they have much larger fish to fry.  When I worked for a local mid-sized PR firm, they handled clients with national, and in some cases worldwide impact, companies like Shell Oil, Kroegers, The U.S. Army.  They didn't have the manpower to handle every small organization that came looking for help.  Plus, their rates were way too expensive for most small business or non-profit to afford.  At times, they would take on a non-profit who fit with their values or would be a good long term investment, such as the Colorado Colfax Marathon.  And it was an investment in money and manpower since the company lost money in the venture.  But the contacts that were made (the scope of the project was huge, major media partners, state and municipal government involvement, scores of community groups were involved) made the effort worthwhile. 

They didn't enjoy turning people away, but they just couldn't afford to take on every small business and non-profit that came knocking.  The same story can be repeated at PR firms throughout the city, state and country.  Trust me, they are thrilled that there is an avenue out there that is willing to help the small organizations they can't get to. 

On the newsroom side of things, I can only say this.  Journalists are always looking for good stories.  They know they have missed some excellenct stories over the years simply because the people doing the pitching either didn't know how to get their point across effectively, or they just didn't pitch because they didn't know how.  Anything that helps reporters, editors and producers save time, ease headaches while still offering good stories, well, they will line up to cheer for that.

In the end, though, it's not about upsetting anyone, it's about helping folks out.  Hopefully the information this blog provides not only helps small businesses and non-profits, but also helps out PR firms and journalists.  And you're a part of the solution.  Remember, you're not in an adversarial position with PR firms by handling your own media efforts.  They might even be more willing to help if they see you have an idea of what you're doing and only need a little input or advice over a glass of wine or a mug of beer. 

You're also not in a fight with the media.  Keep in mind that you are their lifeline to good stories.  You are giving them something they both want and need.  In return, they give you something you want and need; some much needed public exposure.

There is no King David slinging rocks at the Phillistine Goliath, not in 2010.  There's simply too much access, too many tools and too much competition for a real David vs Goliath cage match anymore.  Anyone can succeed today, regardless of size.  No, today there is simply entities fighting for their slice of the pie and the ones that realize the people on the other side of the lines are much more valuable as a partner than an enemy, are the ones who will succeed.

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