July 5, 2024

Episode 31: PR Is Not What You Think

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Break out the fireworks! Erick and Rich are joined by Channel Mastered PR guru Bill Robbins to dispel common misconceptions about public relations and lost opportunities to benefit from it. That comes after a discussion of what the coming appearance of “mega MSPs” means for smaller ones and three smart ways for MSPs of any size to differentiate themselves from competitors. And finally, one last thing: why people lined up for hours in Boston to see a very stinky flower.

Discussed in this episode:

The Mega MSPs Are Coming

Six Channel PR Misperceptions You MUST Avoid


Rich: [00:00:00] And three, two, one blast off, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to another episode of the MSP chat podcast. Your weekly visit with two talking heads, talking with you about the services, strategies, and success tips you need to make it big and manage services. My name is Rick Freeman. I am chief content officer and channel analyst to channel master at the organization responsible for this program.

I am joined this week. As I am every week by your other cohost, Erick Simpson, our chief strategist. Erick, how are you

Erick: doing? I’m doing great, Rich. It’s as we record this on the calendar, it is what I’ll say one business day away from the close of Q2 2024. We are into the second half of 2024 beginning next week.

Rich, what do you think about that?

Rich: It’s funny you bring that up because all week long I’ve been in meetings with people who have been shaking their head over the how did this happen? How did we get to Q3 quite this quickly? And I definitely feel it as

Erick: well. Yeah, it’s a, for those of us that are, that have sales roles it is a stressful .

Point in time, the end of the quarter, everyone is scurrying and scrambling to try to get those last minute deals closed and agreement signed so that we can Look forward to starting all over again Monday.

Rich: Yeah.

Erick: Yeah, exactly.

Rich: All right Let’s dive into our story of the week, here Erick And this is actually something that I have been in the process of writing about today It’s this is going to be the subject of my next channel holic post by the time people are hearing this episode That will be available at channelholic.

news, but right now i’m pulling it together And it is about the rise of what I am calling mega MSPs. Erick, we are all familiar with the rise in recent years of very large MSPs. And we’re talking about companies with regional with national reach, with a dozen or more offices, maybe.

Revenue in the nine figures, eight figures sometimes. So there are some pretty big companies out there. If you are a smaller MSP, you’ve been aware of that. You’ve probably been thinking to some degree or other about competing with them. But I’ve recently started to appreciate that that’s only the.

Tip of the iceberg here, Erick. A little backstory, private equity firms have been buying up MSPs for the better part of a decade at this point. But that really accelerated when the pandemic began in 2020. A lot of money flooded into the market. There was a lot of acquisition activity and that’s when you really started to see the rise of these.

M. S. P. S. Typically speaking, all this stuff varies, but typically speaking, when a private equity firm buys something, but the whole period is on the order of four to five years. So a lot of buying activity, a lot of these big platforms, as they’re called in the M. S. P. M. N. A. World, a lot of these platforms forums starting in 2020.

Here we are in 2024. We are at the beginning of that four to five year term. Window where some of these private equity firms are going to be looking for an exit of some kind and they are going to be something there’s plenty of money out there looking to do business with them. But the buyer is going to be somebody looking to spend more money.

Obviously, if you’re recapitalizing you’re selling up, you’re making a bigger MSP than even some of these. Already big MSPs that are out there. And I’ll just put you in the ballpark of what we’re talking about here. There is a a private equity firm called Riverside. That owns a number of MSPs, including logically, which is a very large one.

About a year ago, they raised just shy of $1.9 billion in a new fund that they are looking to deploy. You factor in some leverage, some borrowing, and we’re talking about $2.5 billion at their disposal. And the way it typically works Erick is these funds will. Take a 2. 5 billion sum like that, divvy it up into 10 parts and look to make 10 different deals.

So they’re in the market now, probably, if not very soon, looking for deals that make sense at 250 million. So we’re talking about big acquisitions. And so essentially, There have been a lot of acquisitions of MSPs in recent years. What you’re going to start to see is these platforms, these rollups get acquired and combined in exactly the way these PE firms rolled up individual MSPs before they’re going to start rolling up.

These MSP platforms, and we’ve already seen an example of this, Erick, just at the end of April when Antiva bought the Purple Guys, and that’s in some sense, the beginning of this mega [00:05:00] MSP area. Obviously, huge implications for the audience out there, and I’m really curious to just get your first thoughts on this, because it’s difficult to compete with a very large company.

That has resources and pricing power and all sorts of stuff you don’t have. Now we’re going to be tied just to give you an idea. I interviewed the CEO of Logically that company that I mentioned before. They’re going to be, they’re looking to create what they’re calling Logically 2. 0.

They’re going to scale up and the CEO didn’t want to get into the specifics of that that top secret plan, but he was asking the question I’m dealing with companies that are buying their IT services from me. What’s to keep them from buying their HR services from me, their tax preparation.

So it, there are going to be some big companies with capabilities that will be hard to match on the local level. And I don’t know that a smaller MSP can count on the personal quality of their service, getting them through this new era of competition.

Erick: Holy cow rich. You’re talking about the Walmart effect, right?

When you know Walmart comes into town, it basically, starts impacting all the other smaller businesses in the area. Same the Amazon effect, what it did to the brick and mortar booksellers. So is this a concern? For smaller MSPs is is that what question you’re looking, you’re asking because what you just said was like our good looks just ain’t going to get us on the cover of that magazine anymore.

We got to do something drastically different if we’re going to compete or is it we’ve just got to get our, business in order so that we can be attractive enough from a performance perspective. Or a specialization perspective to be acquired by some of these folks.

Rich: Yeah. And that is a very interesting and I think difficult question for MSPs out there is, do you, is your next move basically to sell into that trend?

As opposed to try to compete with these larger firms. And I don’t think there’s one right answer to that question. I will say, responding to the, something that you said there. I believe this was the very last episode of the show. We were talking about that data from service leadership that ConnectWise unit, where they found that private equity backed MSPs may be contrary to expectations, have higher customer satisfaction than the smaller ones.

But they also found that the most. Operationally mature MSPs not owned by private equity are in most cases at as competitive or or more competitive than the private equity backed equivalents. This may not be true forever that gap was closing, but as you were saying, one, so one possible response to this is get out while the getting’s good maybe, or plan on getting out Two, three years from now, when this mega MSP wave is really in high swing.

And another is I, as I think you were saying, double down on operational maturity and make sure that you are ready to compete with anyone.

Erick: Rich, as of listening to you share the highlights of that article you wrote in Channelholic. I just had this image and I’ll explain it after I share the image.

You ever, have you ever seen the like the, the illustration that it’s one fish eats another fish and the bigger fish eats that fish and, there’s three fish and the big one eats, they progressively each bigger as they eat you mentioned Antiva and the purple guys.

One of my early consulting clients was an organization that was acquired by the purple guys who now has been acquired by Impiva. That’s what you said. So I thought immediately of those, of the fish analogy, is that’s what’s happening. Just wanted to share that. And I do believe that, MSPs need to get their operational maturity house in order, just like you mentioned.

There’s always going to be competition. But my sense is that business owners sometimes don’t want to be serviced by gigantic organizations as well. They’re looking for that, more personal touch, that boutique relationship. And they will pay a premium for that as well. I I’ll talk a little bit more about that in my tip of the week.

Rich: Yeah. And quickly, you’re reminding me when I did that interview with Joshua schemes, the CEO of logically, he went there too. He said, there, there are plenty of businesses out there that want to do a business, want to get their managed services from somebody who’s going to drop by the office once a month with a box of donuts.

Just say hello. And he said, that’s not something we deliver excellent service, but we can’t really scale to the drop by once a month with a box of donuts level. And so there are businesses out there, for you to compete [00:10:00] for. It’s just, you’re going to have to work a little bit harder at it.

And maybe that’s a great lead into your tip of the week, Erick. Cause there will always be competition. You’re going to have to work for it. And that means you’re going to have to think long and hard about how you differentiate.

Erick: Absolutely rich. So yeah, that is the focus of this week’s tip of the week.

It is how an MSPs distinguish themselves from this sea of, for, perceived lookalike competitors, rich, when we work with our clients at channel mastered, one of the questions that we always ask a vendor. Is who they think their competitors are in the channel. And then we ask them, okay.

Who do the MSPs that you are targeting to bring into your partner programs think your competitors are? In almost every case, Rich, the answers are different, right? So it’s not who you think your competitors are, it’s who the people that you’re trying to influence think your competitors are, and to create distinction and differentiation.

So they think, oh, you’re not, oh, okay, then tell me more, right? So it like breaks that. That supposition or that, that subconscious categorization Oh, I know what a cybersecurity firm is, right? There’s thousands of them, right? How do we create distinction? There are tens of thousands of MSPs.

How does one MSP, especially in light of, this mega MSP wave coming distinguish themselves from their competition or even this, large MSP influence. I’m going to share three tips. The first one is develop a niche specialization or specific expertise. So there are a lot of MSPs I know from my experience, rich launching one of the first MSPs.

Back in the day that we were just trying to serve everyone. If you could fog a mirror, boy, we wanted to talk to you. And what is it you want us to manage, Oh, sure. We’ll manage that. When in fact we had never managed something like that. I remember we had a client that had a liquor control system.

They wanted to upgrade their liquor control system. This is, I found out later a system where it basically measures all the liquor at the bar. And, it integrates with their payment systems and all that. And. Our awesome sales professional said, of course we do that. And then, the engineering team had to figure it all out and get a third party to come bring it in.

So instead of trying to serve the masses, but specialize in one, two or three things that you can do better than anyone else. In some cases it’s, it may not be. Something that you like to do, but your clients want you to do, maybe think about bringing in, a third party outsource relationship, things like that until you learn how to do it and then deliver that specializing in a vertical market, specializing in an application suite or platforms or something specific like that.

Think salesforce or AI, something that is very highly valued by organizations, but they don’t really have the expertise to make the most of it. So figure out what your niche specialization is and focus on that because it allows you rich. To focus your marketing, to identify those process, because you understand what their pain is, because this is what you specialize in.

You understand how to make your message much more targeted rather than a generic message. We can, increase your uptime, protect you from cyber threats, right? It’s very generic , but if I have an attorney client and I can say, Hey, aren’t you tired of having to deal with all the updates to your Westlaw application or something like that?

I’m blast from the past, Rich. How we got a bunch of our. legal folks on board and understanding their pain and target that pain, you’ll be much more successful at building that perception of differentiation and get more people that want to talk to you. And because you’re specialized, rich, you’re going to command higher rates, right?

Because I don’t want a general practitioner doing surgery on me. I want the surgeon to do surgery on me, right? Number two, you mentioned bringing donuts to the office once a month, right? I remember bringing bagels in to client meetings. I remember building stronger, personalized client interactions. Rich, I’m working with, a lot of MSPs on, at our, in our sister company, MSP Mastered, that are hiring for, and training, and delivering.

Like client success range and client success, isn’t the same thing as account management in this respect, it’s all about just loving on the clients, making sure that they’re in integral into the communications that [00:15:00] are going on, touching the clients. Delivering personalized email messages and calling them on the phone and having virtual meetings You have someone there that is concerned about how the client how they’re doing How we’re doing for you and what else can we be doing better?

And it’s a very unique and distinct role so you can differentiate yourself by having someone like that on your team that, that delivers that close knit relationship building juju that a lot of us engineers lack, rich third one. Leveraging. This is one of the Achilles heels of of MSPs. It’s marketing, rich, digital leverage, digital marketing strategies.

We, we understand, generally that a business that out markets its competitors. Is going to attract more attention this has nothing to do with how well they deliver service or any of that So you’ve got to have all that stuff in line as well. But if we are not leveraging a good digital marketing strategy that keeps us in the forefront of the mindset of our prospects and also our clients.

I know msps that don’t have newsletters rich I know msps that don’t celebrate holidays and things like that. I know MSP is that don’t like their clients business anniversaries and other newsworthy events and help promote that in their digital marketing. It’s not about selling. It’s all about thought leadership.

It’s about appreciation. Writing very good articles. And promoting that or looking for different articles of interest, even from third parties that you can send out to your clients on a regular basis. Hey, I thought you might be interested in this, keeping them appraised. So it’s just a way to leverage, digital marketing and automation to deliver consistent touching rich.

I think I shared on one of our recent shows where I had a an MSP say, you know what, we came up to a renewal and our client basically said to us we haven’t really seen you or heard from you all year, so why should we renew with you? Oops. We don’t want to be making those mistakes, Rich.

Rich: So three great pieces of advice. I’m going to quickly comment on them in reverse order, because you’re the last one there was about sales and marketing or marketing in particular. And Josh was seen CEO of logically who I interviewed this week. He was talking about the advantages that these mega MSPs are going to have, and marketing is very much one of them, logically today, before it recapitalizes and gets truly huge, they’ve got a CMO.

So they’re not figuring out marketing, investing haphazardly in it. They have a CMO who used to, if I remember right, worked at Tech Data for a bunch of years. They’re gonna be very good at marketing. They’re gonna have very big marketing budget. So this is something for you to focus on to keep your name and your image out there.

You were talking about the customer success role, and it immediately reminded me of this phenomenon I’ve seen over the course of the last, seven ish years, where vendors have introduced a partner success role, where the distinction between the account manager and the partner success professional is the account manager is trying to turn you into a partner, sell you some stuff, and The partner success person is trying to make sure that you successfully use the stuff so that you’re loyal and you come back for more business.

And that’s what the customer success role can be at MSP. Yeah, sell them the services, get them on the client role and then have somebody in there who’s only motivation. They’re not trying to, sell anyone anything more. They just want to make sure. That the the end user is getting maximum value from that monthly sum that they’re paying.

And then you started with specialization, which I’ve been saying for years. I wrote an article for channel pro and I was the executive editor over there about the characteristics that the industry’s fastest growing MSPs have in common. One of those characteristics was specialization. And for a lot of the reasons that you were talking about, so it will help you differentiate as you were saying, it’ll allow you to command higher rates and experience would indicate history would indicate it will help you grow faster too.

Erick: Are you muted, Erick? I’m sorry. Oh, sorry. Yeah. Just a few tips there to help increase your operational maturity level, increased top line revenue and bottom line profit. And increase client satisfaction. Like that tip number two, that client success, like customer success role is just all about maximizing client satisfaction.

I know rich in I think in last week’s episode you talked about a statistic from the service leadership report, I think that was speaking about, NPR and that promoter scores and things like that, the more mature MSPs and the larger clients on the vendor side that we work with.

You know are surveying their clients on a regular basis [00:20:00] So I think that you know a combination of that along with the client success role can help keep tabs on client satisfaction as well, but also you know, identify potential situations where a client may be thinking of churning out, right?

So getting ahead of that or maybe identifying early on when a relationship isn’t really working out And, taking that the high road and having a very frank discussion with the client about why that may or may not be Happening or why it may or may not make sense to continue.

Rich: As long as we are talking about marketing, Erick let’s dive into a particular dimension of marketing, public relations Erick and I are about to take a quick break here.

When we come out on the other side, we’re going to be joined by Bill Robbins. He is a colleague of ours at Channel Mastered. He is our in house PR expert and consultant to clients. He’s going to talk to us a little bit. About that public relations function and maybe clarify open your eyes to a little bit about what it is and what it is not you may think you know what a pr person does Bill’s going to tell you what they really do and all the value that you can get from a good pr person like bill So stick around Erick and I will be back with bill momentarily

And welcome back to part two of this episode of the msp chat podcast our spotlight interview segment where we are pleased and privileged To be joined by a channel mastered teammate of ours. His name is bill robbins. He is our public relations consultant and expert Works with a lot of our clients in those areas bill.

Thank you so much for joining us on the show Thank you. Glad to be here. So before we dive into the subject matter here which I think is going to be an eye opener for a lot of folks in the audience about what pr is and what it isn’t before we get there though Just tell folks a little bit about you your background and what you do with us at channel master

Bill: Okay, great.

So I’m in Austin, Texas, and I’ve been at PR for about almost 25, maybe close to 30 years. I don’t know. I’m not a math guy, but it’s close to 30, I think. But I’m an old school PR guy. When I came out of college, we, back in those days, we had to graduate from journalism school and and actually work as a reporter for a couple of years before any kind of PR firm would ever talk to us.

So I started in journalism, covered tech a long time ago eventually started working my way over into PR, but I’ve been in tech the entire time on both the client side and then also on the agency side and working with a lot of startups, helping them get their feet on the ground and getting out there and getting notice and getting good

Rich: stories.

And you are sharing with us off the air. One of those startups that you worked with once upon a time is called Dell.

Bill: Indeed. It was a long time ago, but it was a startup at the time and those were good times.

Rich: Okay. Again, we really thank you for joining us on the show. And to set this up a little bit for the audience, what we’re going to be talking about here is some content that Bill prepared for our blog at Channel Mastered if you go to a www.

channelmastered. com And check out I think we label it the insights section. You’ll see a recently Published post by Bill about some pretty common misconceptions concerning PR what it is, wasn’t it, what it isn’t, as I was saying, and just to set things up a little bit, Bill, people hear PR, public relations, they think I know what that is, it’s press releases, right?

But what is, just big picture standpoint, what is public relations from the standpoint of a PR person?

Bill: Yeah, I would say it’s across the board communications on a lot of channels. Whether it’s corporate communications, employee communications, investor relations, product reviews, and so forth. But it all comes down to basically being a trusted advisor for your client.

It’s really helping them understand how to put their best foot forward, how to say the right things, how to do the right things, more importantly and just really being that person that they can always trust to shoot them straight and help them understand how best to present themselves to the media and their their audience and their their customers.

Erick: Bill working with you has really. Just open my eyes to the, some of the misconceptions that I’ve had about PR, like I know nothing about PR and, through our relationship together, working with our clients, you have really expanded the definition. It’s not anything at all.

What I thought it was your blog post covers six, I’m going to call them misconceptions about PR. And the first one you talk about. Is that PR is like a transactional function measured by, number of clicks or leads or articles written, a lot of us that do digital marketing and the, some of the service that we provide to our clients on the digital marketing front it, the majority of it is measured [00:25:00] that way, but PR is completely different than that, isn’t it?

So how should we be thinking about PR? Other than what I just described, like it’s it, that type of performance doesn’t work when we’re looking at the impact of pr, wouldn’t you say?

Bill: Yeah I’d say that and I appreciate you and for, several months we’ve been working together being open and listening and, and not, a lot of people think they know exactly what PR is and sometimes p people talk to PR instead of talking with them.

So it’s, it really is. To this point of again, going back to be this broadly trusted advisor on a lot of things that are related to how you communicate as a company, as an institution, as an organization, as a person, it’s not just how many press releases you write per month. It’s sometimes getting the insights for, like, how to best.

Position things or how do you make the right decision? So I worked for the company one time that was very well grounded in the business community. All their customers were business driven there are people who understood how to use computers how to buy computers all within that particular language but that company wanted to go into the consumer market that was a whole different ball game because then we had to help them understand things like how their services support people talk to their customers how their documentation is written, where people understand what a CD tray is.

I know that’s aging me, but those things were there. We remember them making it was everything from just really, Broadly, how do you communicate this effectively to a brand new audience? And that’s really what the idea about a trusted advisor being. I’ll give you one more example too.

In some cases, we would even be brought in if we were looking at vendors for various components. The systems we’re building and our job was to provide some type of insights about what kind of a brand reputation that company had, how well they were perceived by the media how many customer complaints they’ve had and so forth.

And so that was our value was to give them an idea for who to work with so that there wouldn’t be a really negative PR experience later on down the road.

Erick: It’s such a different role than, If I’m representative of, other recovering MSPs or MSPs out there, it’s such a different role than what we suspect or expect you and I earlier today, Bill, we are working together on a client’s account, discussing strategy and things like that.

And you mentioned to me that the role is about relationships and that just wow, it’s just, I didn’t expect that. I think a lot of folks assume that he are. Is just about getting a bunch of media coverage, right? So if it’s not that, then what is the objective of PR? How would you encapsulate it for our audience?

Bill: And I think going back to that, it’s not transactional, it’s relational. And it’s that relationship that you should be able to trust your PR person to tell you the truth and help you understand that what you’re saying may not be the right thing and actually have the confidence and the backing To be able to tell you whether or not what you’re doing is the right decision or if you’re saying it in the right way and that’s that where, when we come to this idea that, you don’t want to clean up efforts later on.

Part of that is making the right decision. So I’ve been in a lot of cases where I’ve been in the room with the executives and had to say, I, I don’t think that’s the right approach for us to do it, or I don’t think that’s the right time to do it. It’s not just about when you issue a press release it’s really about the context and, what’s happening in the market to make it relevant.

It really is being able to say I’m going to tell you the truth, I’m going to give you proper counsel. And you may not like me for it, but at least you know it’s going to be honest and helpful.

Rich: A, why this is a, another misconception you address in the blog post, and it it goes straight to something widely believed within the general public, which is that practically the definition of a really good, PR person is somebody who’s really good at spin.

What, from your point of view and your experience is wrong about that idea? Maybe even dangerous about that.

Bill: Yeah. There’s somebody, the phrase is it’s all about the spin and I would say it’s really been all about the trust. Because I think everybody understands that they can see when people are spinning and they can tell them people are not being Completely honest and they’re dodging the questions and I understand there’s a certain amount of media training and media presentations for how you do that because you want to be careful about what you say, but it’s really about Avoiding that spin so that later on it doesn’t come back and make it look like you’re being dishonest and that’s because ultimately it comes down to how well people trust you and How well they trust your brand.

And we all know that consumers will come back to the companies that they trust, not the companies that they feel spend the best stories.

Rich: Now, Erick likes to refer to himself as a recovering MSP. You are a recovering journalist. I am a present day journalist right now. There are two topics you address in this blog post that really.

Resonated with me. And one of them basically Is this [00:30:00] idea that you know that the businesses will have if you my pr person if you get me A meeting with a journalist i’m going to be covered at length in that publication and the other one is basically after I do that interview and before that, 10, 000 word article all about me and my company appears, online Transcribed I’m going to get a chance, if I ask for it, to review that argument or article in advance and request changes.

Which I am here to tell you folks as a practicing journalist today, both of those ideas are just dead wrong, but address them from a PR person’s standpoint and then maybe because I really do sympathize with you a little bit here Bill, maybe just talk about why it is so difficult to have those conversations with your clients.


Bill: And does that still happen to you a little bit, Rich? Do you still have people that say, I didn’t really mean to say it that way. I’d like to change the story. Or maybe it hasn’t happened recently, but. Has it happened before to you?

Rich: It’s definitely happened before. And every now and again something like that will happen.

And the other scenario is even more common, basically, where I interviewed somebody and then, you do the interview first, folks, then you write the story and I got into the story and there just wasn’t a place, to put this person’s thoughts or quotes or whatever and I feel bad about wasting their time, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.


Bill: Yeah. I think like it was a ladder that, you get to change or review the story. I’m surprised to think that people still think that, but I, I. Then again, I guess I wouldn’t be surprised because there, there’s still that misperception of people, especially if they’re new to the industry, maybe they’re working with the company and it’s their first round of interviews and so forth.

And that’s something that the PR person should help them understand was some basic media training for how reporters work, how the publication process works and so forth. And to make it clear that this is why it’s important to really prepare for that interview. You don’t get to hit the control Z button and start over again, that, you really do have to make sure you get this right.

And understand what’s on the record, what’s off record and just help her. And so that goes back to the value that a PR person should be able to offer. That’s not transactional, but it’s more relational to help you become a better speaker and a better presenter and a better subject for these interviews.

So that’s one. I think if you just help people understand that’s, they don’t get a do over and they need to take time to prepare. The other thing going back to, a briefing equals a a story. I would say that’s probably more common for a lot of people. They feel like I spent 30 minutes with this reporter and I didn’t get quoted.

But they should know that there’s plenty of other people who think the same way. There’s plenty of other people that this reporter’s interviewing. As Rich, there may be five or six sources you might talk to at any given time, depending on how big of a story you’re writing. And hopefully at the end of the day, it comes down to How good your message was, and how clean it was, and how crisp, and if it was actually something that resonated with the reporter.

And again, that goes back to practicing and preparing for the briefing so that you do have the best statement to be made, and that particular statement might have a better chance of getting some coverage. But then I’ll say one more thing, too. Sometimes it’s not even about getting that coverage.

Sometimes it’s just about spending time with that reporter to help them get enough information for their stories. And I’ve told clients before that you may not get quoted in this story, but if you just really help this reporter out and help them, write their story and make it as easy as possible for them, chances are you might get covered in the next one.

But it’s all about the relationship, and that’s why it’s called Media Relations, because you should be actually helping reporters do their stories as much as you can. Yeah,

Erick: it’s again, for someone like me that’s a lay person that doesn’t understand these things it’s interesting from the perspective of what we think things are, what we expect things, and then how much control we feel that we have.

I must be very challenging sometimes, Bill. I know we’ve had a conversation or two about this, where you’re working with someone who basically thinks that they’re directing the whole process, right? So you’ve also made comments to me in the past about when we’re talking with clients together.

And what surprised me, one of the biggest takeaways that surprised me was the understanding that what a client thinks is newsworthy or press release worthy really isn’t. And sometimes when they go down that path and start releasing Press releases that don’t meet the bar or being newsworthy, it can actually work against them.

So what kind of guidance could you give folks that are listening about understanding, cause as I’ve come to understand it what, what is newsworthy, what is qualified for a press release and what is more better suited for an article or a blog post or something like that.

Bill: Okay. On the press releases, there’s a lot of different schools of thoughts on that. There’s some [00:35:00] people who say, I’m only going to do a press release on something that’s newsworthy. But then they also understand too that there’s a lot of SEL out there. And so sometimes it’s not necessarily the press release itself has to be newsworthy, but the story that you’re pitching, if you want coverage, has to be newsworthy.

And so that’s where I would tell people that, yes, you can go ahead and issue that press release about an award that you’ve won. You’re not going to get coverage for it, but at least it’s out there. And if somebody does a search on it, they’ll pick it up. But I think that for the PR person it’s really important for them to be able to have that position with their clients to help them be honest about it and say, yeah, it’s a nice story for us.

But it’s not really relevant to what’s happening, or it’s not any real different than what’s happening out there. And so a lot of times I’ll tell clients, and I’m not sure if anybody really uses this approach anymore or not, but I tell them to look at the three C’s. And as you look at your story has it changed conflict and controversy?

Is it really changing what’s happening in the industry right now? Is it changing how customers engage with products and services? Does it have a conflict with somebody else? Does that, is it completely the stark opposite of what maybe a main brand tier one company is saying as a tier three provider, you have hard evidence that what you’re doing is the right thing and conflicts with that tier one.

You might have a better chance of getting some coverage. And then, the last one with controversy is that controversy sales. And if it’s a controversial product or controversial statement within the confines of being appropriate and responsible that might help you get some coverage as well.

But again, it goes back to that trusted advisor, that person being able to actually really tell you whether or not that’s the right thing and whether or not it’s the right story to try to pitch if your ultimate goal is to get coverage.

Erick: You, you wrap up your blog post with the thought that, PR isn’t a value meal, right?

So that’s a very there’s a lot of imagery behind that. So other than price or kind of this transactional, non relationship how should businesses in the market for PR evaluate and select a good PR partner?

Bill: Yeah, I think it’s it again. It goes back to knowledge and trust is what it you know, I think for a lot of people Ultimately, I’ve had clients tell me that at the end of the day when they’re picking a PR person or picking up Or it’s really about whether or not they feel like they really know what they’re talking about They do know there’s something better and I think to be trusted And not trust being swindled, but being trusted, be able to actually get them the right advice and so forth.

So it’s not like a value meal where you go through the window and say, I’d like a couple of press releases and a side order of briefings next trade show, right? It could be we have a press announcement coming up. So we really want your focus on getting as much coverage out of that as possible.

But then it might be other times you’re called in the room because you’re having a difficult situation with a customer. Okay. And you just really like to have some advice on the best way to, to talk about and maybe resolve conflict. Sometimes it’s about resolving conflicts within from an employee communication standpoint of how you’re addressing employee complaints or issues or so forth.

So it’s just that broader communication level that you’re looking at and, whether or not you’re trusted and people can rely on you.

Erick: I’ve got one last bonus question for you, Bill. We’ve talked a lot about, the folks that are looking to leverage PR, understanding PR, looking for a great PR advisor to help them out.

I’m going to, I’m going to flip it 180 and ask you, Bill, what. type of clients are the ideal clients for someone in your position and what clients do you run away from? What are those characteristics?

Bill: Yeah, I think it’s hard to say because, there’s, business is business and you’re gonna see a lot of PR agencies are going to try and get business with companies regardless because they, they need the money.

But ultimately you want to be able to partner with someone that You think it’s doing the right thing, that it’s actually trusted and has some, if they don’t have a good brand and they at least have the potential to have a good trusted brand you also want to be able to work with people who are going to listen to you and, and follow your advice and follow your counsel.

And then even better, if they can bring you in at a higher level, not just within marketing, but push you up into that C group where you have, across the board, my making the right decision about what we do with employees or what we’re doing with a product merger and acquisition.

That kind of corporate communications level the better chance you have of being able to influence the key level people within the company, whether it’s the owner, the, the principal, the senior vice president, the better chance you have of effectively doing your job.

A lot of times people are trapped in marketing. And when their counsel never make it outside of a marketing department or marketing lead. So if you can, at the table, if you can earn yourself a spot at the table, then you can actually provide that [00:40:00] effect.

Rich: That, that response and the response to the question before, both of those really are opening my eyes to the fact that the right way to think about a PR person is both in terms of relationships, which you’ve emphasized a lot, but also just realize that you’re dealing with a communications professional, not, not a PR professional, even, or a, certainly a press release, but somebody who really understands communications.

And the applicability of that skill goes way beyond helping us, get this news story out, launch a product, and so on. Like you were saying, the, that internal conflicts among employees could be an area where you need some guidance from a communications pro. Really great stuff, Bill.

Again, thank you so much for for joining us on the show here. If people are interested in learning more about you and what you can do for them and so on, is there any place in particular you would direct them? I would say obviously with the website here. Absolutely. That’s where you’re going to find out all about Bill and all the other great things we do at Channel Masters.

Go to channelmaster. com. And why, while you do that, Erick and I are going to take a quick break. When we come back on the other side, we’re going to talk a little bit about this very interesting conversation with Bill Robbins have a little fun, wrap up the show. So stick around, Erick, and I will be right back with you.

In a moment. It’s all right.

Bill: Thanks guys. Enjoyed it. Thanks Bill. See you up

Rich: and welcome back to part three of this episode of the MSP Chat podcast. Always a pleasure, Erick. A pleasure. We get to enjoy on a pretty much daily basis to chat with Bill Robbins. Lots of interesting stuff there. I will just quickly go back to the final point I made about. Thinking about PR as a communications function, as just a, product promotion or even company promotion kind of function.

It’s such a great illustration of the many ways a skilled PR person can add value for their clients.

Erick: Rich, and yes, you’re right. The more that I work directly with Bill, the more. The more my mind is open to the reality that for the PR resource to do the best job, they have to really be ingrained in deep into the organization.

Because of that role, they want to be listening in on com on in meetings and understanding things like that, just so that they have a better sense for how to position the organization to, to the public and I’m now going to even, say that I feel based on this new understanding, this appreciation for what Bill does and what he’s doing for our clients at channel mastered that it is a, is definitely a required role.

It’s a required resource to have at a certain point in your organization’s maturity and growth. And many of our clients. You know now, rich after this kind of this awakening in this realization I’m actually introducing the conversation about PR and media much earlier in our discovery calls with our clients to understand, what they’re doing in these in these areas, do they have someone they can rely on and then, getting a a call scheduled with Bill so that we can explore how we can help them out in those regards.

Cause you know, like we’ve just shared, there’s a lot of misconceptions about PR in general and what it’s for and what its true value is and what it really isn’t. And I think the true value is it helps. An organization, accelerate. Their growth by doing it the right way rather than what people think it should

Rich: be.

Yeah. We should probably start steering prospective clients to the interview we just did with bill. To help them understand what you’re talking about there, because there are, I’m sure there are plenty of companies out there that figure I’ve got PR covered.

And that’s only because they don’t really understand what it means to have PR covered. And yeah I completely agree with you. It’s once you understand the scope of the role, you realize how essential a part of the complete package of services you need to launch and grow a business that PR is. All right. Thank you again Bill Robbins, for joining us. We will, I’m sure, have you on the show again at some point down the road. Erick that leaves us with time for just one last thing. And it comes to us from the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University. Now, everybody has their own thing, that they get excited about and that they absolutely can’t miss.

Seems like a whole lot of people got excited about something that might not have inspired me to to line up. At the Arboretum at the Harvard University, they have what is I won’t even try to give you the latin name, but it’s commonly known as a corpse flower. It [00:45:00] only blossoms looking at up here something like every 17, 20, it almost never blossoms.

When it does, they call it a corpse flower because of how it smells. And the corpse flower at Harvard recently bloomed, and they, by golly, people were lining up to get in there and experience that. Now, I am gonna guess these are people who are into gardening, and into plants, into flowers, and they were more interested to see the plant because it, it’s a very unusual looking plant and so I can understand why people would want to see one up close and personal but I don’t know that I would, stand on line for a long time to get into a room with something that smells like a corpse.

Erick: Well, Rich. I will share my experience. I have been in line and I have observed and smelled the corpse flower. There’s a corpse flower at the Fullerton Arboretum. And yeah, it’s it’s a very unique looking flower. Pretty, in some sense, but boy, oh boy, 30 feet away you can smell it and it is.

I don’t know. I’ve never smelled a corpse before, but it is not pleasant at all. It is not pleasant but it does draw, a lot of folks because like you say, it’s so rare that one of these things blossoms.

Rich: I have heard, we keep likening the smell to a corpse. I’ve heard that it really it smells like rotting meat.


Erick: Yeah. Hot, steamy sewage. Yeah. Something rock. Yeah. Not rancid. Overpowering. It stays with you for a bit after, you get out of its range.

Rich: Give the arboretum near you a ring, folks, and see if they’ve got a corpse flower and when it is next expected to bloom and you too can experience that magnificent odor.

Folks, that is all the time we’ve got for you this week on the MSP Chat Podcast. Thank you so much for joining us. We’re going to be back again next week with another episode for you. Until then, I will just remind you that we are both a video podcast. An audio podcast. If you’re watching the video version of the program on YouTube.

But you also listen to podcasts, go to wherever it is, you get those audio podcasts. Look us up there. If you’re listening to the audio version, but you’d like to check us out on video go to YouTube, look us up, MSP Chat or channel mastered on YouTube. Either way, please. Subscribe, rate, review.

It’s going to help other folks like you find the program more easily, and we appreciate it. This show is produced by the great Russ Johns, who is part of the team with us here at Channel Mastered. He would be happy to produce a show like this for you as well. To learn more about Russ, to learn more about Channel Mastered, you want to go to www.

channelmastered. com. Channel Mastered has a sister organization called MSP Mastered, where Erick works directly with MSPs to help them grow their business. If you want to learn more about that company, go to www. mspmastered. com. Once again, we thank you very much for joining us. We’re going to see you in a week, folks.

Until then, please remember, you can’t spell channel without M S P.