September 30, 2008...4:29 pm

Money makes it news

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PR and social media types aren’t the only ones that get excited about numbers, dollars, profits and statistics. Everyone does.

Let’s face it, money is always an attention getter. Money turns interesting anecdotes about business into something worthy of being called news. 

A lot of companies interested in garnering attention from the business press want to tell great stories, but great stories without numbers to anchor the story to something concrete or illustrate a fresh perspective on a larger issue, are just, well… stories. 

Publicly traded companies are used to releasing numbers and data to be analyzed and interpreted by the analysts and journalists, but private companies large and small are often loathe to give up these numbers or share their long-term strategies for a variety of reasons. 

However, Peter Shankman is sending out queries every day on H.A.R.O. from journalists and bloggers looking for companies of all sizes to give good examples of what they’re doing to survive the harsh economy.

Companies need to be willing to expose themselves to get any play with business media. The lessons learned, trends spotted and issues identified by your successes and failures can actually help everyone throughout the business community to endure the challenges that lie ahead.

Transparency isn’t just for the enterprise, if private companies want their stories to be considered news, too, shouldn’t they share the same kind of data? Without dollars, projections, facts and statistical data, isn’t their PR really just marketing copy?

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  • I understand your point Shannon, but I think it’s unrealistic to expect companies to open up about business decisions. The proprietary nature of the corporate world means playing things close to the vest so that competitors don’t hear too much too soon and beat you to the punch.

    I disagree that without stats, etc. that company PR is nothing but marketing copy. If you want to be cynical, you could say that even with stats, etc. it would still be marketing copy. Isn’t that the point of PR in a lot of ways?

    The problem is that business journalists don’t want to know about what happened, but rather what is going to happen. Combine that with businesses not willing to talk until something is done means there’s an adversarial relationship that develops. If business writers could write about something from the recent past to illustrate a tactic, you might still get a good story and folks like you would hear the stories you want to hear.

  • Brandon Chesnutt


    Very timely post. I’ve been picking up on this same trend on both HARO and ProfNet.

    It is definitely a hard sell getting your typical private business to open up and discuss detailed financial information with the press. I’m sure I’m not the only PR pro who has seen a company pass on a slam-dunk opportunity simply because they refused to provide more data.

    However, since most business media is transaction-focused by nature, it should be the agency’s job to counsel their clients and make it clear that stories need to be compelling, informative and “quantifiable/measurable.” While there are some companies out there that “get it” and are willing to be pretty open when it comes to discussing facts and figures, the other firms sometimes require a little arm-twisting.

    As more and more information becomes readily accessible online, I wouldn’t be surprised if private firms eventually start opening up more when it comes to sharing their numbers with the media, simply because another source might share them first.


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