Ego-stroking in the time of PR

May 5, 2016


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Approaching Public Relations, PR, can be a daunting task. When should I start thinking about it? Is my product or service ready to go live? How can I reach as big an audience as possible?

However, the real question you should be asking yourself is, “Why?” Why do I want to engage in PR? Hopefully, the answer is because you have a unique, game-changing solution that is working to fix a broken industry. Or, as the people in Silicon Valley would put it, something that “makes the world a better place.”

If you just want to see your name splashed across headlines, then congratulations, you’ve just painted yourself as an egocentric executive who has placed his personal, superficial image above all the work that his team has assembled. And who ever said the executive was male? Gender-neutral language should be considered more, but I digress.

“The minute you start compromising for the sake of massaging somebody’s ego, that’s it, game over.” – Gordon Ramsay

Psychologically, it is perfectly natural to want to hear reassurance that you are special – that what you are doing is making a difference, and by God! you want that recognition. After all, you’ve worked very hard to build your company from its infancy – from conception to implementation to funding, and now you have something of which you are truly proud, and you want to tell the world.

Like the proud parent of an honor student, you want to broadcast it to anyone who will listen. You slap your message on a bumper sticker and proudly display your accomplishment. However, anyone who sees it is immediately turned off by the sense of self-importance, and deep down they know that your child is no different from the rest of the nose-picking, marijuana-smoking, D.A.R.E. program graduates who will still be living at home at the age of 25 because they are in the same socio-economic boat as the rest of their peers, honor student or not.

The same applies for PR.

Just as the ego is the force that drives ambition, it is also the handicap that gets in the way of critical thought, temperament, and most importantly, criticism.

“If your ego starts out, ‘I am important, I am big, I am special,’ you’re in for some disappointments.”
– Neil deGrasse Tyson

Albert Einstein hit the nail on the head when he said, “More the knowledge, lesser the ego. Lesser the knowledge, more the ego.”

Intelligently approaching PR requires that the ego is left at the door, and instead of putting personal ambition at the forefront, it is essential that what you are promoting is highly-thought out, original, and speaks for itself.

Ego-stroking in the time of PR is like love in the time of syphilis — You’re probably going to get burned.

Any good product or service should speak for itself, thus making Public Relations a breeze. If the idea is sound and the product works, all you have to do is pitch it to the appropriate media. A well-designed Press Release highlighting the main points in a short and easily digestible manner is a key weapon in your PR arsenal.

Keeping ego out of the equation, because journalists can smell it a mile away, should be one of the main factors in your pitch. While having significant social proof like being a former engineer at Google will help with your credibility, bragging about how great your conquests are will get you nowhere.

“The ego is nothing other than the focus of conscious attention.”
– Alan Watts

Instead, it is important to identify what publications cover your type of announcement, and more importantly, which journalists and editors cover that beat. You don’t want to pitch your latest new gadget at a major publication to journalist who only covers Android apps. This may or may not get you blacklisted, depending on the journalist.

If you stick to your guns with a clear mission and a great product or service, PR won’t have to be a mysterious black box of ego-driven confusion.


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