Ira Neimark, the former c.e.o. of Bergdorf Goodman, says he learned this lesson about public relations:
"Whatever the type of business, the financial press, fashion press, entertainment press, and so on are always looking for new products as well as new concepts and new ideas to interest and to stimulate their readers. It is critical to recognize which reporter at which publication is sympathetic, supportive, and very interested in your business concept or model."
That's a quote from Neimark's second book, "The Rise of Fashion".
I learned that about the press at a very young age. Growing up in a high-rise in Chicago, I was constantly looking for something to do outside. In the summer, my bike was my key to freedom, riding miles through the parks, zoo and rookery . The Chicago winters meant sticking close to home.
One snowy day when I was 10, I talked my friend Michael (who lived in 6A, not far from my 11C) into building a snowman. We labored but got nowhere. Fortunately, right on the corner was a huge, round boulder from some earlier age, four feet in diameter. I talked Michael into helping me simply cover it with snow to resemble to body of a snowman, and topping it of with a snow head, a hat, scarf and corn-cob pipe.
We were proud. I called the city desk of the Chicago Tribune and reported a huge snowman stopping traffic on Lake Shore Drive. They sent a photographer, and I was hooked.
I was constantly looking for things to call the paper about. Every time, they sent out a photographer. Over the next few years, they got to know me. They covered my puppet shows at the Chicago Public Library, a musical I wrote to support the Red Cross, a teen-age nightclub my friend Jay and I started, and even the humor magazine I started in college.
I learned exactly what Neimark noted. The key to getting good press was figuring out what the editors were interested in. I'd always call them first and ask them. Then I came back with a story they could use. That was a lesson I've used my entire career, every time I worked on PR for a client or a charity.
Just remember: your first audience for your PR isn't the reader, it's the editor. If she doesn't like it, nobody else will see it. Help out the editor and you've got your public relations.