Manners Maketh...

24th August 2009

Every once in a while an email comes through from a journalist, analyst or former business contact that brings a smile to my face, brightens the week and makes all the hard work worthwhile.

This morning was one of those occasions.

I’d got up early to prepare some questions for an early morning case study interview, then logged into my VPN account to check emails on behalf of my PR agency client, éclat Marketing. The first one I opened was from CRN reporter Kayleigh Bateman. Her email stands out as one of the nicest I’ve received in 12 years of press relations work.

Her email begins, “I don’t know if you’ve heard yet, but I’m leaving CRN. My last day here is Wednesday 2nd September....” Kayleigh goes on to explain that she has been appointed as the site editor of TechTarget’s new website, This is an absolutely perfect website for one of éclat’s clients, Star so I’m really grateful that Kayleigh has let me know that TechTarget is setting up a new site focusing on cloud services and virtualisation. However, what really warmed my heart was that Kayleigh ends her email with the words, “Thank you for all your help whilst I’ve been on CRN – I really appreciate it. I look forward to working with you again some time in the future”.

I am guided by the Chinese philosophy of Guanxi, that teaches that business is transient, but the relationship is forever. It’s communications like these that really bring that home.

PRs are facilitators, networkers, it what you will, but a fundamental part of our role is helping to identify the right people to speak to journalists so that their articles contain useful comment and advice and readers carry on reading the publication. If we help journalists to fulfil this role, by putting them in touch with relevant experts who share their experience and expertise with readers, then journalists will be more likely to open our email, or take our call in future.

As well as providing positive feedback and proving that 600 years on from William of Wykeham’s proclamation that “Manners Maketh (wo)Man”, Kayleigh’s message also reminds me that it’s not just coverage that we’re seeking when we pull out all the stops to find exactly the right spokesperson to help a journalist meet his or her deadline. We’re seeking a lasting business relationship.

Good spokespeople understand the importance of the ongoing relationship too. The most successful spokespeople don’t just push their company product during press interviews. They take time to understand what the journalist is writing about and what will be most relevant to the readers and then they tailor the conversation to provide this information. In other words, the best spokespeople forge a working relationship with journalists, that results in them being repeatedly quoted in their target publications, thereby raising their company profile over the long term with their customers, prospects and partners.