Not tricks, Michael. Illusions. (The old school PR pitch and placement gig.)

A couple of years ago we had a sales call with a big name brand in the sourcing/recruitment services. I had two of my savviest marketing and PR team members on the call. We pitched our Marketing PR Lead-Gen Process and thought we had a nice rapport going.

The CEO proceeded to tell us that he didn't care about online visibility or lead generation – he just wanted interviews with INC magazine and Fast Company and The Wall St. Journal and MSNBC.

He told us that this was the kind of exposure his firm needed to grow (and sell which we eventually found out) and if we couldn't promise him a rose garden, then he'd find a firm that could.

Last year we actually worked with a wellness company that seemed to understand our mantra of online visibility, traffic and leads, but then let us go when we couldn't promise him the Oprah show.

And more recently we worked with a firm that wanted to be the next LinkedIn in a matter of months via hardcore pitching and article placement (never mind that it took LinkedIn years to become the company it is today).

These were all private companies – not publicly traded ones.

What the hell? We're not the only marketing/PR firm to hear this from HR suppliers. The old school PR pitch and placement gig is still prevalent in the minds of business owners, marketers and PR professionals alike. The reasons range from ego, to management or board members or partners or investors pushing for quick returns, to – well – ego.

Even with the mainstream reach that social media marketing "gurus" like Todd Defren, David Meerman Scott, Chris Brogan, Laura Fitton, Jason Falls, C.C. Chapman and so many more have, I'm still floored when I hear executive management wanting the flashy strokes and wanting 'em fast – but completely discounting blogging for example.

Whatever happened to dinner and a movie first? Seriously, whatever happened to the building your business brick by brick with quality products and services, smart content, transparency, consummate customer service (hugging your customers), and consistent monthly marketing and PR campaigns including blogging, podcasting, etc.?

Instead, you'd rather pay a firm to (try) to get you a few lines of print or a few minutes of air time; you'd rather buy a bag of tricks.

"Not tricks, Michael. Illusions."

It's also an illusion if you think that by virtually rubbing up against folks like Carroll Lachnit or a Zach Thomas or a Bill Kutik you'll be bringing home the Oscar. Forget about it. Keep the press clippings, embargos (what the hell?), and your ego in the trophy case because you're not going to grow your business that way.

I'm not saying that traditional media and analyst outreach is no longer viable. It is, but only in the greater context of good marketing – identifying your target market, learning as much about them as possible (demographics, buying habits, purchasing behavior, etc.), and figuring out how to reach them, engage them, establish trust with them and motivate them to buy more of your stuff.

You no longer control your brand, so instead of blowing your money on pie-in-the-sky pitches that'll result in limited reach, be part of the conversation.

You can start by asking your Marketing/PR firm these questions (thanks to HubSpot for the post).

Pssst…we've got all the right answers.

Post by Kevin Grossman (join me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn)

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