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If Walmart and PR Had a Baby, This Is It
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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Quick Quiz: You know that one client? The one who believes that every answer that drips from his tongue is as good as fluid ink from the quill of Shakespeare, and probably twice as accurate? Yes, that client. We know there is no pleasing this guy; nonetheless, we forge ahead. But let's say he comes to you with some breaking news. "Hey! I just discovered a way to cut our budget dramatically. You see, I'm going to get a release, national pitch and results for only $100 for each project. What do you think?" 

You would bite your tongue until blood came out of your nose because you would think he just visited a hookah lounge and he's jonesin' for brownies. Or, if you read Gawker yesterday, you would know he saw a story about "100 Dollar PR." 

Yes, way. A full campaign for only $100. Because that's realistic, right? Check out a few details from this Algonquinian press release

$100 Dollar PR’s concept is simple, yet comprehensive. Clients will be able to get their message out to targeted media contacts via a professionally written press release that is distributed by one of the industry’s leading distribution services. In addition, $100 Dollar PR will provide the critical follow-ups which are often overlooked by those lacking experience in the business. In essence, every client will receive the same quality of service that one would expect from a high priced public relations company. One of the many great benefits of the service, is that it can be used just once, or many times throughout the year, for virtually any newsworthy purpose.

Let me get this right. Regardless of whether a client wants media outreach across the country or across the block, this dynamic system will only cost $100? In today's age, what does one Franklin get you in Laurena Marrone's (said founder of homeless PR consultants incorporated) world? 
  1. A "professionally written press release." That's subjective, but I digress. 
  2. Blasting this press release out to 250 "targeted contacts." Granted, if I just want to reach business writers in my city and you blast every assignment desk editor, news director, and a few newspaper publishers for good measure...yeah, I suppose that's a "target." 
  3. Providing "access to 120,000+ media organizations." So, you have a Cision or Vocus membership too? 
  4. [I heart this part] One follow-up call or email, "depending on the preference of the contact." Nothing about if said contact picks up on the first ring from "BLOCKED" on the Caller ID, but hey, they tried, right? 
  5. "Instant notification" of any coverage. And of course, if you get nothing, you will hear nothing. Mazel Tov. 
I understand Marrone is trying to make a buck, but so are 1000s of small businesses out there. It's the American Dream and she may get in the ear of these aspiring business owners who believe PR professionals are a slew of hucksters out to make a quick buck. He or she invests in Marrone's scheme...business model, gets bupkus, and continues believing what he or she always has believed. Sounds more like a nightmare to me. 

Kudos to Laurena. This press release is developing some serious buzz about her business. Hell, it got me writing about it, but what about the indictment upon this industry? Many of us work too hard to have subterfuge like this make the profession look bad...or worse than it already does. 

$100?! Child please.

For an email guaranteed to reach more spam filters than inboxes and for a "professionally written release" that has more run-on sentences than a political filibuster? I tell you what. Give me $100 and I will buy my kids some pizza, a few movies, and a video game. Oh, and I'll call a news buddy of mine and we can laugh about this story together. 

Trust me, you will get about as much media interest with that business model too. 

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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