What Happened To Etiquette in PR?

One of the first things I wanted to teach my children was how to say “Please” and “Thank you.” Manners have the ability to take you where education, training, and experience may not. As the saying goes, “People may forget what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” This could not be more true than when it comes to the business of marketing and public relations.

etiquette in PR
photo credit: stevendepolo via photopin cc

While recently having coffee with a colleague, we lamented at the shared experiences we ‘ve recently experienced with our respective clients. Marketing and PR professionals showcase businesses and organizations for their products or services in various media for a living. Whether the coverage is media-based or perhaps it is a simple word-of-mouth referral, often this brief mention can give said company a boost in business or influx of donations or volunteers due to the great press.

In the digital age, however, it would appear that some individuals have lost their sense of etiquette in PR. Public relations is the building and nurturing of an important relationship. The relationship of trust and respect between writer and subject is a delicate one. And yet the art of saying “Thank you” is seriously waning.

Not saying thank you is not just gauche, it’s bad business. It is proper and polite to acknowledge whenever someone does something positive for your business. Sometimes an email will suffice. There are also online services such as Thankster that send automated cards. But some prefer a more personal approach. This is why it’s smart to have thank you cards on hand. Short and sweet is perfectly acceptable. Do remember to include a few personal details. For example: Thank you so much for featuring our widget in your annual holiday gift guide. The article was very helpful for last minute shoppers. I’ve already bought the last widget you highlighted. Thanks again!

The rule is simple really: Say “Thank you” in some form to every single PR professional and journalist (for our purposes this includes writers and bloggers) who write about you and your business. Every single time we get a client coverage we ensure we take the time to thank the individuals involved (this can include photographers, producers, etc.). We often receive emails  from recipients thanking us for taking the time to acknowledge their hard work. During these conversations, they have asked us what else we’re working on and to keep them posted as we require additional coverage. See how simple that is?

Don’t be afraid to get creative. Try to make your gesture personal. You are nurturing a relationship after all. And before you seal that envelope enclose a business card or takeaway item to further brand awareness. Make yourself accessible to those who have helped you and don’t forget to help them remember you. Tend to these relationships and you will see your business blossom.

Susie Parker
With more than 20 years experience in restaurant, retail, education and health care industries Susie Erjavec Parker launched SPARKER Strategy Group to bring businesses up-to-speed on how to integrate social media. SPARKER Strategy Group specializes in the intersection of traditional and digital/social marketing and PR. As a specialty marketer to women and families, Parker also serves as a business coach to mompreneurs and women business owners. Susie is the founder of WIN: Women | Influence | Networking—a budding networking group that promotes and connects female entrepreneurs and their businesses with referrals and recommendations. She is a Starbucks addict and often experiences “ghost vibrations” in her back right pocket--even as she is talking on her iPhone.
Susie Parker

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