Tuesday, June 24, 2014

When PR Firms Go, "Yada, Yada, Yada"

Seinfeld (the sitcom) is known for its many classic catch phrases and plot lines, but one that has been on my mind lately when hearing other PR firms pitch their services is the old “Yada, Yada, Yada” episode.

In the Seinfeld scenario, Jerry’s sidekick, George, meets a woman who draws him in through intrigue created when she skips over the best parts of her stories and descriptions of herself with the words, “yada, yada, yada.”  He decides to fight fire with fire and does the same. Before you know it, the two are a hot item, that is until, she “yadas” George one too many times and leaves his trust of her in the balance.

PR firms sometimes “yada, yada.”  Only they don’t use those words.  Usually, they describe their firms and their services as new, never been seen before, reinventing the old “agency-client model,” or “turning the agency-client relationship on its head.”  In PR speak, it’s all “yada, yada.”

In other words, the words mean nothing but they create just enough intrigue to draw clients in further.  Here’s how I saw one new agency describe itself:
  • “We offer a model that, to (our) knowledge, no other agency offers…” Yada.
  • “Our firm believes every stakeholder group responds most effectively to content that’s consistent, clear, and memorable…”  Yada, Yada
  • “We get clients in front of the right audiences…This approach works well now and will work more effectively in the future, as PR continues to grow...”  Yada, Yada, Yada

This new firm described PR and what it has been doing for the past 100 years in various ways.  It really isn’t saying anything new, and while perhaps, it may add its own twist and style to the practice of PR, it’s certainly not going to break new ground in such a way that it will transform the field.  In other words, the firm isn’t the game-changer it wants prospective clients to believe.

Beware of firms, particularly newer ones, who present themselves as something totally new and different.

So how should agencies present themselves?

Each should have its own style and build its model around that. But all should speak clearly in plain English with the understanding that while we all may promise different things, provide service in different ways, bill our clients according to different scales, and measure and evaluate performance differently, at the end of the day it’s about communication, words, trust, connection.

If we want our clients’ messages to matter, they need to be clear. If we want our clients to connect with us, our messages need to matter, they need to be clear.  No “yada, yada” about that.

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