A letter to my former PR team circa 2009


Who says email is worthless? Occasionally a former co-worker or in this case staffer of mine digs up a blast from the email past and I hear an echo of something brilliant or stupid that I wrote years ago. I still think about PR this way. And I still don’t own any clothes from Lacoste.

See below a verbatim note from sometime in 2009:

Dear XXX and XXX –

Given that both of you have the unique challenge (erm, pleasure) of being managed by me from far, far away I felt I’d give you some insights into the things that rattle in my head. 11 points for today.

I obviously have a lot of opinions — good, bad or indifferent — and I’d counsel you to bring me in early into your planning and campaigning process. I enjoy that part and think we have so many cool things we can do this year.

-Jose

1. Media coverage is not a panacea. If it were, Monica Lewinsky would be president of the U.S. and BP would be the company of the decade. I subscribe to the doctrine of ‘agenda setting’ when it comes to media relations/coverage. The media doesn’t tell people what to think, it tells them what to think about.

2. I’ve launched more than 100 products, announced more than 125 acquisitions, 50 partnerships and dozens of events across North America, Asia Pacific and Europe. Two or three were memorable.

3. The best PR campaigns are those that are experiential and drive activism at the grassroots or customer level. Most of these can then elevate into media coverage.

4. TiVo was the worst press launch I’ve ever worked on. It was 100% focused on the technology and never considered the lifestyle play. It remains my biggest learning lesson. HP’s “e-services” launch was the second worst project I was involved with.

5. One of the brands I admire most for its recent resurgence is Lacoste. Once a brand for preppy suburban teens that died with the advent of hip-hop and grunge culture – now transcends both demographics and two generations of consumers while maintaining its niche appeal. I own no Lacoste clothing.

6. Everyone in the company does PR and will tell you how to do your job — until there is a crisis or someone asks how to measure PR. The best PR people are prepared for both.

7. My favorite quote is from the late great John Wooden: “Don’t mistake activity for achievement.” It’s both a memorable sound bite and universally applicable for anything.

8. I am frustrated by the fact that our number one priority has been to get members to update their profiles and we’ve done a total of 2 tactics worldwide to drive this activity in the first 6 months of the year.

9. Your biggest challenge as an in-house PR person will always be staying focused. See #6 above.

10. PR people train spokespeople on the fact that audiences remember very little about a message and are impacted mostly by the visuals and experience of the communication event – yet we spend most of our day-to-day time spinning on…messaging.

11. Occasionally I hear a PR person say something that I think is bang on. This is bang on – and Nick is one of the best media relations people I know.

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