Monday, April 30, 2007

Can PR Agencies Help?

The topic of agencies came up in the office today; and not too long ago, we sat down with a university student who was doing a project and wanted to pick our brains about public relations agencies: when do we find them useful? Are they helpful, or more trouble than they're worth? As with anything, I really think it depends.

In my position, I deal with several PR reps on a daily basis, and for the most part, it's great. The way we work (and this probably holds true for most magazines) is that we always need everything yesterday. It might be a high-resolution image to accompany an article in the magazine. It might be a quick spec clarification for an article about to be submitted. Whatever it is, we always need it now. Anyway, I thought I'd give my top-five list of things a PR agency can do to make my life (and likely every magazine editor/writer/reporter's) life easier:

1) RESPOND QUICKLY. I am an impatient person by nature, and when I need something ASAP, I absolutely hate waiting. This doesn't mean sit by your PC with your fingers outstretched in front of the keyboard just waiting, and waiting, and waiting, to mash those keys vigorously. But answering in a timely matter is always appreciated, and never forgotten. If you don't have what I'm looking for right away and need to look into it, a quick note to this effect lets me know "hey, I'm on it."

2) HAVE RESOURCES AT YOUR FINGERTIPS. Of course there will always be a question you don't have an answer to, but the more answers you have, the better. Pricing? Everyone wants pricing. Know It. Product Images that are suitable for print? As long as the manufacturer has them, so should you. Basic Specs? This should be something easily researched. Nuff said.

3) BE FRIENDLY. The PR reps I most often turn to when I need something are the ones that go that extra mile to be nice and build a rapport. Phoniness can be detected a mile away.

4) STUDY THE PRODUCT. You don't need to know everything about what you're repp'ing, but being at least remotely familiar with what it is and what it does, helps. That thing-a-ma-jig that does somethin' or other won't really help!

5) PERSONALIZE E-MAILS. Larger companies who work with big PR firms typically send information through newswire services, and therefore, I don't expect to see "Dear Christine" as the intro: I know I'm part of a blind-copied message sent to every Canadian news service under the sun, and I'm OK with it (OK, it hurts a little, but I forgive ya!) But if you're a small and unknown company, do something to grab my attention, or your e-mail will likely end up in my deleted items box before Outlook can even seen it comin'. "Dear <<>>", "Dear Sir or Mr.", or any mispelling of my name tells me that you don't care, nor pay any attention to what you're sending. Just like with relationships, it's the little things that count!

I've been asked by PR reps that I see often what I think of PR people in general, and whether or not I like dealing with them. The answer is "yes". I've rarely come across a PR rep that I loathed contacting, but it has happened. The way I see it, if it's easier for me to go directly to the manufacturer/distributor/retailer for answers to my questions, there's something wrong. I've been fortunate in this industry, so keep up the good work. For those in the industry that I actually deal with, please, if I ever sound terse in my e-mail or phone call, don't take it personally. We're always on some sort of deadline here, and scrambling to give our readers the best possible product we can!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Many Uses of GPS

True story: a colleague and I were driving to Montreal for an industry show earlier this month. Upon arrival, I grabbed my portable GPS unit (from Mio) to help guide us to the nearest gas station. For those who don't know what portable GPS is, they're small units that are powered by an internal battery, and can be used in-car or hand to provide both verbal and illustrated turn-by-turn directions from Point A to Point B. They can also locate millions of Points of Interest, or "POIs", like gas stations, restaurants, and hotels.

Anyway, so the sultry, female voice emitting from the Mio tells us to turn left at the upcoming lights. As we turn onto the new street, a police office is waiting on the left side of the road and waves us over. Crap!

"You're not supposed to turn left there," he says. "Didn't you see the signs?"

"We're sorry officer," answers my colleague. "We're just trying to find a gas station, and were following that thing." He points to the portable GPS unit, which is in clear view in my hand in the passenger seat.

"Oh," the officer grunts. "I hate those things. Go ahead, but please pay more attention to the signs."

As we drove off, we couldn't stop laughing at the hilarity of the situation. Moral of the story: portable GPS doesn't just get you to where you're going, but it also gets you out of a ticket! I appreciate mine even more now...

Friday, April 27, 2007


Welcome to the Marketnews blog! For those who don't know me, my name is Christine Persaud, and I work for a Company called Bomar Publishing, which operates two technology magazines: Marketnews ( and here's how! ( I like to say we're a small group that does big things. It's definitely a fun industry to be in. We constantly have cool and fun products coming in and out of the office to try out, review, and introduce to the industry and consumers.

Playfully called "gadget girl" in the office, I'm a relatively rare breed of female that doesn't just enjoy using technology, but loves to learn about it and try out new, and sometimes complicated, devices. I review personal electronics for our consumer magazine here's how: MP3 players, cell phones, headphones, you name it. If it can be carried in your hand or shoved in your pocket, I've likely taken it out for a test ride! So I'm always get excited when a new gadget arrives in the office for our evaluation.

Right now, I have 5 really neat portable messaging devices in my possession, as I'm working on an article that asks "can anyone compete with the Blackberry?" Let me tell you, having played around with these nifty things for the past month or so, I can completely understand where the term "crackberry" comes from. I used to think it incredibly rude when talking to someone and they'd constantly be checking their e-mails under the table while nodding approvingly at what I was saying, as if they were actually listening. Now, the second I jump in my car to head to the office, the first thing I do is grab the smartphone out of my purse and start checking e-mails. Sure, I'm well aware that I'll be in the office within 20 minutes, but why wait when I can see what's going on now? We've evolved into a culture that simply can't wait for anything. I'm not sure how I'll be able to part with these 'phones once the evaluation period is over. But it might be a good thing to get back to normal life where I concentrate on driving instead of replying to notes and surfing the 'net!

Stay tuned for more on what's going on at Marketnews Mag, and the tech industry. We'll give you the scoop!