Why PR Pros Should Thank Janet Jackson for Inspiration

By Shawn Paul Wood Comment


It was the 1980s when fashion was big and brash, music was ruled by hair metal bands and heavy riffs on the Casio keyboard, and grandparents were “gagging” us all in a “totally tubular” way.

A young Janet Jackson was also making her presence felt, along with her brother Michael, on the pop charts. Many of her songs paved the way for dance hits and teenage troubadours, but one in particular really spoke to PR pros:

Let that play in the background while you read this, because there will be a quiz.

The competition in any vertical, for every industry, is fierce. Every brand is scratching and clawing its way to the top.

Whether you know it or not, your client is humming this tune when thinking of you monthly. It may not be every day, but it is often. That’s where the conversation of ROI comes up in the conference room.

So ask yourself, “What have you done for [them] lately?” And if you can’t think of anything other than writing those routine reports, here are a few ideas:

1. Storytelling. 

storyYour contacts in Outlook and all those media lists in Cision don’t really mean as much as they did. In fact, they don’t mean a thing to your client. What matters to them and to the media, is a compelling story.

Sure, your client wants you to pitch, but if you don’t have a real story that shares news and a point-of-view, you may as well use one of those fake-out calls for when you see someone you don’t want to talk to.

2. Relevance. 

relevanceYour client is probably watching, listening, or reading the news and asking “Um, why aren’t we in this story?” That’s a question that creates a pit in your stomach because there’s nothing you can do about it. But actually, there is.

Your client wasn’t a part of this story because the journalist may not consider your client or their widget relevant.

Your pitch must urge a reporter to write about your client, this brand, or said widget. If you get in, other reporters will read about your client. That could breed another story — and that creates relevance. How’s your track record these days?

3. Opportunity. 

Opportunity-Next-ExitSometimes, all it takes is a little something extra to get the attention of the press. A talking point. An appearance that was unexpected. An action that many didn’t think you’d do. When you have people looking at your client, you have earned a moment in time — take advantage of it.

Many clients, and even some PR pros, squander that moment for many reasons. Sometimes, the client thinks they know best and ignore your counsel. Or maybe you aren’t sure what to say to extend the news cycle.

“Caller ID thinking” has killed many an opportunity. Oh, someone is knocking, but since I don’t know who that is, I’m not answering. In PR, you can’t afford not to do that. Neither can your clients.

janet-1So the next time you’re in your cube and unsure what to do next, think about this song. You can either hum a few bars and stay safe, or you can hear it from your irate client and be endangered.

Unsure how to impress your client? Think of these three simple sparks. Ruminate on these easy ideas.

And don’t forget to thank Janet. Miss Jackson, if you’re nasty.