Remove the sunglasses, peel back the over-the-top suit, and disregard the image of him in his underwear on a toilet: PSY, the mastermind behind the painfully catchy “Gangnam Style,” and that crazy horse dance, is a media-grabbing genius.
Groups as varied as college marching bands
to Mitt Romney impersonators
have imitated the video. He’s spawned a whole new era of “Gangnam Style” gifs. He’s galloped (literally) with Ellen DeGeneres and Britney Spears
, and even managed to score a slot at the MTV Video Music Awards
The guy is an influencer. His music video—which is now the most viewed video on YouTube—can teach PR pros a thing or two about communicating with the media.
Beneath the surface of the seemingly mindless song is smart social commentary about an affluent Seoul neighborhood with which many locals have a love-hate relationship.
When reaching out to a reporter with an idea, being aware of current events—particularly as they relate to your client and the reporter’s beat—is a must, no matter what topic you’re pitching. If you understand how your client’s or company’s news is relevant to current events, or to a trend in your industry, you might be helping the reporter finish or start a story on which he or she was already working.
Keep it simple.
PSY didn’t inspire dozens of parodies, and get every college kid this side of Chicago to pretend they were roping in farm animals, by writing a 10-step instruction guide. He made it easy to understand and, therefore, easy to replicate.
It’s easy for communication professionals to get caught up in PR jargon or to produce client materials packed with industry phrases. If a reporter has to read through your email or press release more than once to understand it, chances are your pitch will land in the trash.
Know your audience.
It seems likely that PSY didn’t plan to become an overnight phenomenon in the United States, but the baby-faced Korean rapper isn’t stupid. Infectious beats, easily replicated dance moves, and a weird music video—it’s what the people want.
For media relations professionals, this idea is two-fold. First, research the reporters you want to pitch—read their articles, note their writing style, and determine how they prefer to be contacted. Second, know the reporter’s audience. How does your information affect them? Why should they care?
Get to the point.
“Hey, sexy ladies”—it doesn’t get more direct than that.
A journalist gets hundreds of emails a day. If he or she can’t understand the information you’re trying to provide within the first few lines of your email, or the first 10 seconds of your call, the reporter will likely move on to the next one. The days of long sentences and conjunctions are over. What information do you have and why should the journalist care? End of story.
You might not be a media relations pro the first time around, but, like the dance, you’ll get the hang of it with some practice and dedication.
Heather Farr is a media relations specialist at Walker Sands, where she works with a variety of tech and B2B clients. A version of this story first appeared on the Walker Sands blog, Footprints.