Another ping in the email box, and it’s another request from a PR agency. Usually the request is fairly generic. The PR agency has an action sports athlete, event or fabulous adventure travel destination to push. Could ACM please manage to garner some coverage in a mainstream publication based around their asset (blurb attached)?
Approximately 1% of the time, this is something we can help with – like the time our friends at Tea and Cake PR lined up our interview with Quiksilver athlete Kelly Slater, which ends up on the cover of the Telegraph Style magazine (see above). But don’t be seduced by those rare successes. Unfortunately for all concerned – ACM, the PR agency and the client – the answer the other 99 per cent of the time is almost certainly “No, we can’t.”
“Why?” the PR sometimes ask, although surely in their heart of hearts they must know the answer. The fact is, this is a tired, outdated and inefficient model. Newspapers are disappearing. Travel sections are shrinking. Space is at a ridiculous premium. Editors are overworked, underpaid and oversubscribed.
Travel editors need to know that their readers can read the copy, be inspired, book a trip and participate in what is being written. It has to be inclusive, current, original and affordable. If you’re not ticking all of these boxes then you won’t get past the first hurdle. Events peddled by brands are especially troublesome. Sure, you might snag an editor or staff writer purely on the basis of them liking the sound of a jolly somewhere exotic. But otherwise, it is nigh-on impossible to generate mainstream interest in this type of concept, other than in the real time digital world. To attempt otherwise is pure folly. And not a little unimaginative.
Additionally, action sports and adventure travel and the mainstream world are, almost by definition, unlikely bedfellows. And yet, there are ways where the two can meet, and actually get along. At the moment the introduction process tends to be clumsy and ill-considered.
So what’s the answer? Creative thinking can offer a way out. By allocating creative time to these often interesting and worthy assets, editors can be not only interested, but aroused. A blurb ain’t going to cut it, but fresh angles, pitched with style and intent, can. Or, perhaps more pertinently, it could be time to think of an entirely new way of gaining coverage for these assets. One that doesn’t involve a model that was outdated when Mad Men was a contemporary documentary, not a retrospective fiction.
Yes, it takes time, and it takes expertise in these markets. You can’t fake it. We know when agencies try, and it’s not pretty or effective.
And yet the same problematic approach continues, and still the emails come in. Despite falling returns, the PR agencies are continuing with the same approach. Their persistence is admirable. The results disastrous. Things have to change. Give us a call. We’re here to help….