Poker & Media Relations: Understanding all aspects of the game

We live in a town filled with gamblers and a stigma that separates those who like to play the slots from those who wouldn’t dare go near a blackjack table. However, gambling, or more specifically, playing poker is a lot like other professions including media relations because it’s about assessing situations, sometimes taking risks and keeping a clear line of sight on the prize. In order to demonstrate this, I’ll have to use a real-life example:
My fiancé, Mike, and I were playing low-limit Texas Hold ‘Em poker at The Mirage when he got embroiled in a hand against a tourist from the East Coast. After all of the cards were dealt, two to each player and five community cards, Mike held a royal flush (the 10, jack, queen, king and ace all in one suit), the hand of all hands in poker. After a lot of betting and raising, the East Coast Tourist was practically broke and flipped over his hand showing two jacks, which when paired with the community cards gave him four-of-a-kind in jacks, a practically unbeatable hand. To the tourist’s exasperation, Mike’s royal flush trounced his hand and the more than $100 in chips was pushed to the other end of the table.
Mike and the East Coast Tourist played their hands well considering they didn’t know what each other had, but the tourist made a key mistake: he didn’t take the fact that he can lose into account. In other words, he played offense with no defense.
Offense and defense are pivotal parts of poker and of the media relations field. Understanding the client and taking their wants and needs into account is an absolute must for their satisfaction, but also taking into account what the media is looking for is just as important.
For example, we recently had a client that is very community-oriented open a new location. When we pitched the grand opening it was our goal to not only gain local media attention, but to land a mention in one or two industry trade publications as well. This led to creating two pitch e-mails, one with the release and information highlighting community activity for the local publications, and a separate e-mail for regional and national trade publications that included anything they could possibly need for a news brief. The reason for this was to not waste the trade publication’s time by forcing them to call or e-mail back and forth just to ask for a photograph, an address, info about the grand opening, etc. The pitch was a one stop shop. If we would have sent the community pitch to the trade publications we most likely wouldn’t have earned the news brief that we did because we didn’t take what the publication wanted into consideration. As it was, we not only earned some local media spots, but we also got the grand opening mentioned in one of the leading trade newsletters along with a photograph.
As a media relations department, it’s our job to understand both aspects of the game and to play our hand accordingly. Laying all our cards on the table, so to speak, may be the best strategy when pitching to one type of media, but could work against us when pitching to another. Like each hand of poker, every pitch and press release is unique and needs to be handled accordingly. Pitching the wrong media or sending a release to the wrong demographic can mean a loss of dollars and a waste of time. We know what cards we’re holding and when played correctly, all of the chips get sent our way which means client satisfaction.
Beth Dickman is a Media Relations Specialist for Imagine Marketing.
Contact Beth at bdickman@imnv.com
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