Pitches From the Ditches: Life, the Universe, and Public Relations

By Donal Wayswin on at

Over the last couple weeks there has been a torrent of postcards into the Giz office, many featuring naked men and one made from sewn-together mice heads; all from people pleading for an explanation of what tech PR actually is. I will attempt to address this in the way I know the Giz readership prefers, by using an overly-metaphorical style coupled with long rambling prose.

 

Who?

Anyone and everyone with a website to promote; a widget to shift or a block of polished Chinese aluminium which plays music, streams Chuck Norris films or annihilates fruit into drink form. Tech now broadly encapsulates anything which hasn’t photosynthesised, moo’ed or skateboarded. The Agency’s clients range in size from inter-planetary goliaths, to three men in a shared office with a good idea for a website and a recent re-mortgage.

 

Why?

To make their doohickie famous by getting it written about or fleetingly mentioned in magazines, newspapers; on toilet walls and on the internetz, radio and TV. This is not about buying advertising space; it’s about creating shiny objects that people will want to write about and share. Unfortunately however, because everyone else is trying to make shiny objects, it is hard for the magpies to see through the collective glare and you end up running around Soho shrieking. Shrieking until you top your booze-levels up for that day, anyway. And repeat.

 

How?

Two main ways:
1.) Try to get journalists interested in things. This is a bit like being pushed out on stage on a unicycle, juggling small snapping crocodiles whilst singing about how awesome your client is. The problem is the assembled ranks of press have seen this same act a million times before and is bored, or even worse...angry. To add variety you then tell the crowd that for the very first time, you will now juggle Owl Monkeys alongside the Crocodiles whilst playing Jenga with the three-breasted whore from Eroticon Six. If you are lucky, the scribbling deities before you will deem this worthy of a paragraph or two, mentioning that the whole grand show was provided by Widget X.

2.) Digital/social media. The great dark art; even Voldemort needs a digital guy. This consists of two things, (1) Coming up with interesting stuff to put on the Internet on behalf of Widget X. Typically this is either something which makes people go "LoooooooL!!!!!! ☺ LOVE THIS !!!!!," or you give away free trips to see the aforementioned game of unicycling Jenga. (This then becomes an ‘integrated campaign’). Unfortunately, in reality, the 'interesting content' often ends up deserted on YouTube with just 15 views.

The second part of digital campaigns is the so-called ‘engagement,’ which basically means using The Twitters and The Facebooks to talk to the proletariat on behalf of Widget X. This typically means getting the office junior high on Red Bull, and putting them in a corner with Tweetdeck, talking with the world. "Why doesn’t Widget X work with Slovak widget Y?" "I hate you Widget X; you made my cat jump off the balcony," and "I have Widget X stuck in my earz and I R gonna soo u."

So that’s PR in just over 500 words. In essence, it’s a bit like fishing, but with worms covered in glitter and mini-gems. And the worms are wearing little mini-sunglasses. Whilst moonwalking.

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Donal Wayswin is a pseudonym for a PR professional working for a tech agency in London, not dissimilar to the dozens of agencies that Giz UK hears from daily. All Pitches From the Ditches are based mostly on true events, with some details changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

If you like Donal’s work, check back every(ish) Monday for his columns, or tune in at 1pm on Thursday for the anonymous writings of a London drug-dealer in Exchanges From the Curb, and 1pm Fridays for anonymous copper Matt Delito’s Notes From the Frontline columns.

Image Credit: Businessman from Shutterstock