Medspas: Publicity without a press release (or the press)

Long Tail PR: how to do publicity without a press release (or the press)

Here's something you can put your medspas office manager on.

Press is not difficult if you're willing to take the time to learn how to do it. Medspas and cosmetic medicine in general are competitive. To win, you have to be willing to compete. Learning how to do things yourself is probably the most cost effective way.

I've been following the debate started by Brian Solis about "social media press releases" and other forms of doing PR in a way that both works in a conversational medium and doesn't demean and insult the intelligence of everyone involved. As far as traditional media goes, I suspect none of this matters much--most journalists have long ago figured how to quickly decide if they have any interest in a press release and how best to extract whatever value is in it. The system is no more or less broken than it's always been.

But what about the Long Tail of media--all those new influentials, from the micromedia of Techcrunch and Gizmodo to individual bloggers? And the social news aggregators like Digg and our own Reddit? They're where the most powerful sort of marketing--word of mouth--starts, but most of them don't want to hear from a PR person at all. Blogging is all about authenticity and the individual voice, not paid spin. Many bloggers seem just impedance mismatched with the preternaturally positive PR professionals, and woe to the flack who's busted trying to game Digg without revealing that they're paid to do so.

So now imagine that you're one of those PR professionals. What do you do? Stick with the world you know, and continue calling and emailing releases to the traditional press (trying not to notice that their ranks are shrinking and influence waning)?  Start spamming bloggers, too, and hope for the best? Or just treat alpha bloggers like traditional press and shower them with love, while ignoring the rest?

I've seen all three of those paths taken, some of them even with modest success. Despite the culture mismatch, there certainly are plenty of bloggers who actually don't mind hearing from a PR person, as long as it's in the form of a personal email or comment that reflects that the flack actually reads the blog and gets what it's about. And companies such as Microsoft and Sun are now shifting their PR strategy to give special attention to influential bloggers, inviting them to private briefings and giving them early looks at new products.

But fundamentally social media is a peer-to-peer medium; bloggers would rather hear from someone doing something cool than from the paid promotional representative for that person. The problem is that the people doing that cool stuff are busy, which is why they pay PR people to do the outreach for them in the first place.