A media junket is usually a fully paid trip and invited by the brand for journalists. In return, it is usually “exchanged” or negotiated for a feature story or a page in the newspapers. A PR practitioner is usually the chaperone to these journalists on the trip. Sounds glamorous? A free trip? NO WAY!
As I call myself a PR slave, it is definitely the best description of the job for a media junket! You have to find out journalists’ personal details to book and arrange flights, seat preferences, food allergies and preferences on the plane, make hotel reservations, transport upon arrival, meals to be taken care of every day and night, plan R&R activities etc… Basically, it is like planning your own holiday but for someone else and for work but ensure that everything is well-taken care of! Oh… And did I forget? You may be asked to change return flights at the last minute (extend their trip for leisure) or change rooms (if they don’t like being near the elevator). If they wish to eat something specific that they heard it is good from their friends, you have to try to find it! Or maybe queue for Starbucks for 30mins if they need their caffeine dose. It is a pure nightmare! Maybe the only thing you do not need to do is to carry their luggage…
In the beauty industry, media junkets are getting extremely popular to secure coverage and stories in the magazines. These are more easily negotiated compared to other industries. Beauty journalists enjoy it better too, especially these junkets are usually for new product launches. They get pampered to spa treatments or massages to try the products in a relaxing environment and of course, time for R&R! It is definitely more enjoyable and relaxing.
However, in the tech industry, no mention and no negotiation on how much coverage a brand will receive through media junket. Tech journalists do not have such a good life too! They return to their rooms to file stories almost immediately (thanks to online media) and work long hours to get their stories completed. They are also not pampered and as well taken care of as the lifestyle media. Then again, if it is a trade show, these tech journalists will file stories on other brands too and not only your brand.
I have gone on a couple of media junkets and bringing the tech media was definitely an eye-opener for me. I am quite sure I can take care of them better than other tech brands with half the effort since I came from the lifestyle industry.
And we wonder WHY?
It is a profession that requires to be contactable for 365 days or even more, if it is possible. We have to please and manage internal as well as external stakeholders. Also, till today, it is not highly recognized in an organization. PR is only deemed important in times of need and in a crisis. It is not valued as an asset to an organization.
Most management would only want to know “Why no coverage?”, “Why is the coverage so small? I want a bigger feature!”, “Why is the competitor featured and not us?”, “Why didn’t you stop this negative story from being published?” Sadly, it shows that PR is only valued or remembered in times of trouble.
On a personal note, I received an award from my global office for “Best Performance” after being in the organization for less than 8 months. However, when I presented to my local management, there was absolutely no reaction. I was sorely disappointed as I put in my best the past few months. It was definitely not a reaction I was expecting as I have seen the management’s response to a Product Manager or Sales Manager when they receive an award.
Anyway, I am going to take it in my stride that I performed better than I expected and it is definitely a personal achievement. Though it is the unhappiest profession, however, I still enjoy what I do. It is all about the passion in PR that drives me now. Also, I have peers who respect me for what I do as the saying goes “Unlike Marketing, not everyone can do PR.”
Do we still need to wonder why PR is the unhappiest profession???
I haven’t exactly posted anything on my new adventure as a PR slave as I was trying to adapt to a different culture and working style in a totally new industry.
Well, after more than six months, I can safely say that the media in my new industry is horridly more difficult than the beauty and lifestyle media. Most people have the impression that beauty and lifestyle are the bitchiest. OMG! They are so wrong! I never had to think so much when I had to pick up the phone to make a call to a beauty media. Now, I have to think and plan what I want to say for days (no kidding!), have sleepless nights, breathe and count to 50 before I pick up the phone to make a miserable call.
These dudes bitch about everything and anything! When they receive PR samples, they bitch. When they don’t, they bitch too. They are a really difficult pissy bunch to please. The worst happened on a late Friday night when one of them didn’t receive their PR sample as my agency’s courier screwed up. It became one big drama on a Friday night. Yes! A Friday night!!!
On the brighter side of things, I am glad to say that I am still learning new things everyday. I guess there are always different people and attitudes in various industries. It is all about adapting to the environment and exploring out of my comfort zone. Also, it is helping to build up my experience in a whole new world and hopefully, it will pay off.
For now, I still miss my beauty and lifestyle media badly. I have to learn to take a different approach now.
I guess I have to think if I want to start my own courier company just for the media or maybe personally deliver PR samples… TSK!
I had the privilege of attending nearly every show at Women’s Fashion Week 2011 and it was definitely a wonderful experience. I know that I would never have the opportunity to get up close or even view any Couture gowns in my lifetime!
With my new journey as a PR slave out of the luxury lifestyle industry, I truly missed attending and being involved in luxury events. Well, it was nice being a glamorous guest for once too!
I took it in my stride as another chance to network and meet new people. In PR, nothing is more important than forming relationships and meeting new people. Strangely, I didn’t meet the media at the event. However, the air was stuffy as it was attended mainly by tai-tais and you bump into almost the same people everyday! Honestly, I wonder if these people really purchased the gowns…
Its outdoor grandeur garden setting, which was extended to the runway, was amazing. The organizers took the effort to recreate four seasons for different show days.
There were some gowns that took my breath away and some that I wish I could wear on a daily basis as work-wear!
This is so true… We are learning about social media everyday. It is a new tool and form of communication for us.
I bumped into my ex-colleague while checking out a live visual merchandising to attract shoppers. I left the company before her and we never really kept in touch except through Facebook status updates. I have a lot of ex-colleagues as the beauty industry turnover is unbelievably crazy.
She asked me where I was working now, which is usually a normal question when you bump into ex-colleagues. When I told her the industry I am in now, she gave me a startled look and said: “hmm… are you sure? The products are not as sexy as beauty.” Well, I do agree to a certain extent. The products I deal with are as a flat and dead as a pan now. However, I believe that as a PR professional, my skills are transferable and I take it as a personal challenge to diversify to improve my knowledge and skills. It shows I am adaptable in my resume too.
I have a lot of ex-colleagues who wish to get out of the beauty industry but they are stuck. Some of them are hating it every moment but do not have a choice as their work experience is in beauty. Also, headhunters always look for the same people in the industry. I never understood this as the same people get rotated in the different beauty companies! When I was looking for a job, I had to specify to headhunters that I want to get out from beauty. Not once but many, many times!
Though the industry I am in now is not that exciting to me, I am glad I made that change. If I can make my dead-pan products look and sound sexy, then I think I can make anything or anyone sexy!
I was looking for a new PR adventure and I got my wish granted last week. I have handled many cases of crisis in my years of PR but none so critical. I am glad I survived and added another valuable experience to my portfolio.
PR can be fun and glamorous (only sometimes) but the biggest fear of every PR professional is CRISIS. There are many types of crisis depending on the industry - oil spills (Exxon), skin or drug allergies, customer complaints, product recalls (Pepsi), employee relations, damaging statements, lawsuits and the list goes on… Honestly, anything negative that appears in the media, can be considered a crisis. It only depends on the magnitude.
I learnt it in school and there was a complete module on crisis management, with a plan and procedures which I was taught to follow. In reality, when crisis hits, you have to be clear-headed, think and react quickly as every situation is unique. It is not and never will be a typical case study when s*** hits the ceiling.
Credit: Entertainment Weekly
As a start, there should be a proper plan (you may not follow it most of the time but it is good to have) and first point of contact in place. Fortunately or unfortunately, as a PR professional, I am always the first point of contact. In smaller organizations, a PR agency may be appointed for crisis management. Trust me… If your management insists on engaging one, please do not decline and insist on acting like a hero or heroine. You will need all the help and support you can get.
Here are some other general tips for crisis 101:
For me, I guess a glass of champagne would have helped. I will probably be stashing one bottle under my desk very soon!
Unlike Marketing, not everyone can do PR. It takes a person of a certain calibre and maybe personality to excel in PR. Uncertain if you are suitable for this industry? Here are some PR 101 advices that may steer you to the right direction.
1. Learn to write well. Love to write.
With technology, it means typing and forming words into paragraphs. You will be writing press releases, fact sheets, backgrounder, speeches and even emails! This happens everyday. For added inspiration, you may want to invest in some nice stationery. It never fails if you feel that the article you are writing is worth a million bucks!
Credit: Mont Blanc
2. Enjoy reading.
Read newspapers, magazines, blogs, tweets, Facebook updates… You never know what you will find out from these sources!
Not sure of what to read? Well, a PR practitioner is supposed to read EVERYTHING including financial news, international and local news, lifestyle news and yes… even celebrities’ hot gossip! Of course, you have to read everything that is related to your industry too.
3. Be curious. Be updated.
If you are curious, you will definitely be updated. It pays to be inquisitive.
4. Mindful of appearance. At all times.
Basically, be “put together.” You never know who or where you will bump into someone any day (e.g. last minute meetings). I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be caught in flip-flops grabbing a quick lunch at a cafe by an editor. Enough said.
Always remember: You are the face of the organization. You are representing yourself too.
<I can probably write another article on appearance.>
5. Have a Creative mind.
Be creative in conceptualizing story angles to the media. One angle does not fit all. Also, most editors do not want to share the same story angle as their peers.
Creativity is also needed in producing press kits, organizing events (e.g. themes) and writing press releases.
6. Everything is in the details.
You need a keen eye for details and maybe even being anal about details. Press releases cannot be sent with a single spelling error and then exclaiming: “Oh! I didn’t spot it.” Too bad, your editors will.
7. Gutsy and Thick-skinned.
It is an almost daily task to pick up the phone to speak to an editor. Whether to pitch a story or to find out if they are attending your event. If you are scared of rejection, you will never get your daily tasks done.
There are nice and not-so-nice editors too. You may get yelled at, scolded for calling at the wrong time, receive cold treatment and curt, nasty comments.
If you are in a PR agency, you will meet horrible nasty clients who will yell at you too.
Just take it in your stride.
8. Enjoy socializing.
Attend events, enjoy meeting people, being able to start off a conversation with strangers at events and have an engaging conversation. This is one of the best ways to network. You must be able to engage in “small-talk” to acquaintances you have met once or twice previously too.
Basically, you have to enjoy being a social butterfly.
As a PR slave, I meet a lot of people. It really takes an effort to maintain these relationships and leave a lasting impression.
How do I meet these people? Simple - Attending events and Organizing events. Well, I had to organize a media launch for hair colors. And yes, what else can I do with the numerous hair product launches I have seen and done? With help from my ex-colleague (Let’s call him Mr. Lala), we decided to create desserts inspired by hair colors. That’s how I chanced upon Chef Pang, who has left a lasting impression until today. He is easy-going, extremely creative and open to ideas. For our launch, he created delicious desserts to be savored.
Recently, he opened a new cafe called Antoinette (www.antoinette.com.sg) and because he left such a deep impression on me, I was extremely eager to visit and support his new venture. Also, as a PR slave, I am supposed to know the latest and best places to hold events or for a casual meeting. It pays to be updated and in-the-know!
Antoinette is tucked between a row of run-down shop houses in Lavender. It definitely stands out in the quaint little street. When I entered the cafe, I felt I was in a different world. Everything was in the details - from decor, cutlery to desserts. Lovely! I wish we have more of these cafes…
I will definitely visit again and it will probably be one of my best hide-outs for a nice brunch or tea bitching session with my girlies. Or even a date! Of course, it will be kept in mind for any upcoming PR events too!