By Bryan Stanton
Public Relations is
the hidden interface between Audio/Video companies and the editors and writers
who explain everything about them and their products to millions of
enthusiasts. Yet PR pros are
largely invisible to everyone outside the A/V community, and to many within it.
To the extent PR work is known, it’s often little understood — by the readers of A/V magazines and websites, consumers, even A/V manufacturers.
Press releases are just
the tip of the iceberg. Consumers see only PR’s result, which ideally leads to accurate,
informative depictions of clients’ products & technologies. But our work
involves more than getting product reviews, magazine covers and the like. PR
people also help shape information about a manufacturer’s unique perspective,
history, products, technologies, etc. We help educate the market via the media. [In a sense, our “client”
is the media.]
It’s important for
PR pros to increase clients’ visibility and reputation in “Outer-Market” media, whose affluent readers don’t see enthusiast
publications like Home Theater Review, Stereophile,
The Absolute Sound, and The Audio
Beat. We also work with music
venues and other places audiences gather. For example, we have developed client
promotions with Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and even putting gear into NYC’s
Museum of Modern Art’s Permanent Design Collection.
It’s in a PR
person’s interest to represent the more innovative clients, as they’re
likeliest to have the new products and technologies that will attract the
attention of editors and readers.
(a.k.a. Clients) are deeply involved in all aspects of their companies — the
R&D, manufacturing, sales and marketing — and can’t usually also spare time
to work with the media. Or even keep editors regularly informed of what may seem
obvious to manufacturers, but is actually news to the industry.
part of the job is working with the key person behind a Brand Name, and introducing
them to the media: editors and reviewers love to pick their brains! Some favorites:
KEF’s Raymond Cooke, B&W’s John Bowers, Dolby Labs’ Ray Dolby, Meridian’s
Bob Stuart, PSB Speakers’ Paul Barton, Pass Labs’ Nelson Pass, and B.M.C.
Audio’s Carlos Candeias.
Once, I was crossing
the show floor at CEDIA with the design chief of a loudspeaker manufacturer. We
met two reviewers, one after the other. Each started complaining about his
problems measuring a speaker under review. The designer quickly rattled off a
solution to each, and they weren’t even his speakers. Sharing knowledge this
way is great, and one reason the A/V industry is one of “personalities”.
It is not in a PR
pro’s best interest to make something out of what isn’t — or more than it
really is. I cannot say PR people never do this, but media, reviewers and consumers
are smart — and doing so eventually burns a bridge, destroying the trust and
credibility PR people need to be effective.
Our work with the
media is based 100 percent on trust. As a former A/V magazine editor, I know editors
are extremely busy, facing frequent deadlines, and juggling a myriad of requirements
at any one time. A busy editor may not always see or understand particular
aspects of a company, its products or technologies. PR professionals, especially
former editors, understand from their own experience individual media’s differing
needs, deadlines, and constraints — and can serve as a valuable editorial
Most A/V reviewers have
full-time jobs that pay the rent. They do their
jobs, making it hard to keep up with the copious
A/V changes always underway. In
addition, it’s in their readers’ interests that reviewers pass along useful
information not only about the actual product, but also the companies behind
the products, their technologies, and how they help consumers. Again, this is
where we come in, educating the reviewers to what their readers would find important.
PR’s underlying goal
is to provide clients — some, in our case, going back three decades — pro-active Brand-Building in the
marketplace. Products come and go, but Brands and reputations last forever in
consumers’ memories, and knowing and applying this is paramount.
Stanton is founder and President of J. B. Stanton Communications, which have specialized in Public Relations, Brand-Building and
Marketing for Audio/Video manufacturers, technologies and trade associations since
1977. It has introduced and established dozens of now-prominent Brand Names in
the A/V industry.