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June 3, 2011
The Power of 'Being Around' When News Breaks
Here's an alternative approach to generating awareness and relational heft. Don't worry about making news, just be around when it breaks. The advice comes from Joe Chernov, of Eloqua, on Ragan's PR Daily, and he contrasts the Huffington Post, which last February sold for $300 million and Newsweek, which earlier brought $1.

"Today's winners no longer try to make news," says Chernov, "they instead try to be nearby when news is made." He uses major privacy legislation that passed in the European Union on Wednesday as an example. Anticipating the EU news, Eloqua over the past month introduced Dennis Dayman, its chief privacy officer, to as many reporters as it could, emphasizing his privacy credentials. When the news broke, Eloqua issued a press release "about a new product feature designed specifically th help marketers comply" with the EU directive. And it "created and curated timely content around the news." (This is all displayed via links in Chernov's piece.)

"It worked," Chernov reports, "Dayman was quoted in a dozen articles — and interviewed for many more — on this landmark development. He was quoted in the All Things D blog. He was highlighted in The Financial Times. Wherever this news was reported, Dayman was there.

"Why? Because we took a lesson from The Huffington Post. We decided it was more valuable to be near real news than to try to invent our own. Today it is far more compelling to talk about issues your customers face than it is to talk about yourself."

So, PR people should be advising their clients to be out there, anticipating their markets, positioning themselves as news- or trend-spotters and responders, as being engaged, competent participants in their market settings. Let others (in the media) pass the word about their pertinence, just be there when news breaks, don't worry about trying to make it yourself. This is much more a service-oriented approach to PR than a self-serving one. It's about being having a presence in the market when news you anticipated breaks.

"Today," notes Chernov, "It is far more compelling to talk about issues your customers face than it is to talk about yourself."

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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