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How To Get Away With (PR) Murder

Shonda Rhimes’ latest hit show has us thinking not about real murder, but about “petty crimes” and misdemeanors that PR pros may commit to advance a campaign. It should be noted that these are victimless crimes, more like clever, cheeky actions that a savvy practitioner might pull out in critical situations.

Smart PR is about smart decision-making and creating successful outcomes with the least amount of friction. Sometimes this means skirting convention to raise the odds in your favor, but more often the strategies or tactics will seem very familiar.

Disturbing the peace. Isn’t this the goal of any disruptive innovation or technology? And it’s precisely what a top-tier PR exec wants to do. These yellow sheep, dyed in the name of PR for the Tour de France, brilliantly disrupt in a visual way, ideal for social sharing and “disturbing the peace.”

Loitering. In PR terms, the strategic media specialist has offered up a story to competing journalists and now two of them have responded with interest. While formulating a plan to secure both stories and maintain good relationships with both parties, there may be a period of “loitering” to put all the pieces into place. In our experience, by “slicing and dicing” the story and offering different angles of interest depending on each reporter’s personal bent, media specialists can create the win-win.

Larceny. You know that plan that was brilliantly conceived for that campaign that never took place? You have every right to steal the great ideas and implement them elsewhere.

Bribery. Oh come on, we commit this all the time! When you’re introducing a new product, staging a major event or managing a trade show, you are offering up swag, tschotkes and other enticements to get journalists to notice you. It’s a completely acceptable, albeit minor, quid pro quo.

Social stalking. In real life, stalking is reprehensible, but in communications, it simply means gathering as much information about a contact as you can from all possible sources and using that data to reach out in a meaningful way, thereby increasing your chances of developing a relationship. Applies to media, potential clients and potential hires and Twitter still provides PR pros insight into how media work and what their individual preferences are, far exceeding any “pitch tips” or journalist profiles the industry has used in the past. Always good to start with MuckRack, where the free services provide valuable information.

Identity theft. We prefer identity borrowing. This refers to the practice of penning brilliant bylines, speeches, Profnet responses and the like under the name of your top exec. As PR reps, we want to earn the trust of leadership so we can do exactly that to help foster and burnish said exec’s leadership persona, all without committing any real crimes, of course!

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