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Monday, June 1, 2020

The Tale of Two Businesses Continues

What’s My Incentive to Publish a Press Release? - Part II of Many

By Floyd Cowan
Publisher / Editor-in-Chief Asian Journeys

Daily, I receive swarms of email pitches grinning at me across the ether, dripping with bon hommie from PR Professionals who want me to give their clients exposure. Very few of them get in my magazine or on my website or get posted to Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. I welcome press releases as they inform me about what’s happening in the world, and they provide me with valuable content.

So why do some get used and others not?
First of all, they have to be on topic. It is obvious when a PR pro is just sending out releases to a list of media whether or not they cover their subject or not. These releases get treated with the same respect as they show us.

Most PR professionals believe I am as invested in their client’s product as they are. I’m not.
During a working day I’m dealing with dozens of things with my focus on how I can build and monetize my business. Most often they think I am going to be happy to help promote their client – for free. But why should I be? There are hundreds of companies wanting to use my platforms to promote their products and services. Money talks, but it doesn’t always take talking money to get my attention.

“We are sharing this information for your reader’s interest…” wrote one PR pro to a friend who is a multi-award-winning freelancer and author of several books – and is very good at what he does.
That rings hollow because we all know the PR pro is sharing it because they are being paid to share it – that’s their job. That’s how they make their money! Nobody faults them for that. Many PR pros do not know who my readers are, much less what their interests are. I’ve even been approached by PR pros who didn’t know Asian Journeys is a travel magazine.

From that PR company quoted above, the full sentence reads: “We are sharing this information for your reader’s interest, unfortunately, there will be no media drops or seeding for this engagement at the moment.”

Other than the use of annoying PR terms there is less likely to be any engagement if it comes from a company that is global but expects small companies and freelancers to work for nothing. It takes time to edit a piece to your house style – often taking out annoying PR words – and then formatting it for whichever platform it will go on. It takes years to build readership and a following.
My friend made several excellent points in his reply:

“On behalf of [the client], you send out a release about something - to be honest; I didn't read it. I am assuming … you are earning a renumeration for issuing this release unless, of course, you are doing this pro bono. If that is the case, I salute you.

“So, what is the incentive for me to publish this article? … there is none.

“… advertisers are not doing what they are supposed to be doing - advertising. So this whole system is grinding to a halt. Then what happens when all the publications fold because, as you know, they can't survive on fresh air?

“If I were a PR practitioner and in touch with the market, I would tell my client: "Hey, I have a great idea. Publications and freelancers are suffering and you sell a valuable product. Wouldn't it be a great idea to offer them some complimentary products? There is a big mark-up on your products so it's not going to make you go broke. Alternatively, we could purchase some ads."

There are many good PR professionals whom I am happy to work with, two of whom I wrote about in Part I of this series. For them, I don’t need a free cup of coffee every time I do something for them. And believe me, if either of them had made the approach, they would’ve gotten exposure – without any lip back.

A little bit goes a very long way and far into the future.  I like to show my appreciation far beyond one project because that’s what real partners do.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Not a Foodie?

There are all sorts of foods. And people that make it a hobby or a living trying food. Or re-creating it. Or simply running a bistro, restaurant or cafe, food truck or a delivery service.

While I enjoy good food, I am not all that hyped up. And sometimes I think people take it too far. Like these "military doughnuts". Cool idea. And the rest of the cafe was themed the same. But there is no way I would eat one if these as they, in my view, look like frozen dog poo..

On that note: No, I do not ever wish to receive a cake in the shape of the WhatsApp "Poo" emoji either. I have seen them. With little signs saying "Oh, crap, you are XX years old". No thanks.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

A Tale of Many Businesses

The following article was written and originally published by Floyd Cowan, Editor in Chief and Publisher of Asian Journeys. While the names and companies mentioned are specific to his business, I echo the content. If I were to swap the names and brands, I could publish it just as well for my own publishing business. Here goes:

What Does a Real Partnership Look Like Between Media & PR Professionals?

This is the first part of at least a two-part series.

As a PR professional do you wonder why it is sometimes so difficult to get exposure for your clients when they’ve got a brilliant product and brilliant message? You send out press releases that are ignored, not being read, or read than immediately deleted. Even when you hit the right medium with the right message, the release might still be ignored.

Why is this?
There are a number of very specific reasons, but before I get to those, let’s look at what some of the good PR people do. I could make a long list of good and outstanding PR people but that would take up all of my space, so I want to give just two examples of people who have impressed me as doing it right.

When I was working for a lifestyle magazine in Singapore, I was approached by Fabien Levrion to help with promotion for the watch brand he was working for. He had studied the media in Singapore and specifically researched writers who wrote about watches. He noted the type of stories they wrote and what type of readers they would probably appeal to. He also studied the magazines. Who was its audience? It didn’t matter that they were rich, but what were their interests? What were the other type of stories in the magazine and who did they appeal to?

From that assessment he  felt that I would give him the type of story he felt was best to promote his watches and be read by the people he felt were the most likely to buy those watches. He was very familiar with the magazine I worked for and the market it reached. His company advertised with the magazine. The result was I got a great trip to Hong Kong and he got the story he wanted. Do we really know if he sold any more watches because of it? Honestly no, but perhaps there was a much better chance than if all those factors had been ignored.

That was a partnership between writer, PR professional, medium, brand and the reader. The reader is also better served when they are delivered stories of value to them.

I hear from too many PR Professionals who are just trying to please their client in the quickest and, easiest way possible. They do not consider this whole process as a deeper partnership between all relevant parties.

There are many good PR Professionals whom I am very happy to work with and some who I will do anything for. Cynthia Dammerer, PR executive extraordinaire for Accor, tops my list. Why? I’ve known Cynthia for 12 years. She is smart and engaging. She knows her product thoroughly and she knows the people who can help her promote the hotels and resorts in the global brand. There are others who are good like this so why does Cynthia stand out? Because she takes an interest in me and helps me wherever she can, even when it has nothing to do with the products and services she is paid to promote.

One example. On my website I promote Douglas Yeo’s autobiography, Zero Visibility, which I ghost wrote and published. When she noticed the ad, she wrote to ask all about the book, she bought a copy and found ways to promote it. All of which have nothing to do with her job and her clients. Every contact with her makes me feel as if she genuinely cares about what is happening with me – because she does? When the pandemic began romping around the planet, she was the first PR person to ask how I was doing.  She calls me with ideas and suggestions.

Have you ever asked yourself why Accor gets so much coverage on Asian Journeys’ website and in the print magazine? Ask no more.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Termed a Coin?

Meanwhile... I am still puzzled over terminology.
Why do we call is social distance. I would use that when I am trying to keep away from a**holes.

We try to limit the spread of a virus. Something medical.
If it was up to me, I would call it "Medical Distancing". Cos that is what it is: a preventive measure not to catch that virus. I am still being VERY social... Online for instance.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Do I miss German

food? Not really?
weather? Sometimes autumn is nice

There is so much of "Home" available all over the world, it really doesn't feel like I am missing anything. Ok, sausages and coldcuts could be a bit more varied here, but when you let a piece of Ritter Sport melt in your mouth, the world looks ok. It says in proud words "Made in Germany".

I am now working my way through these three from the lowest to the highest percentage.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Common Sense. Or is it Just me?

(This is a photo of Shell Fish. If you are allergic to Shell Fish, you may not want to read this)

Maybe I am seeing this all wrong. Perhaps there is a reason. It could be that it has been proven to be a requirement. I am talking about "warnings".

There is now what is called a "Trigger Warning" in some articles / videos. Which is "a statement at the start of a piece of writing, video, etc. alerting the reader or viewer to the fact that it contains potentially distressing material (often used to introduce a description of such content)"

Such trigger warnings can now be found in articles dealing with mass shootings or rapes. (Do note that I am not trying to make fun of either and that this is not about the crimes, the victims or the police work...). USUALLY! the headline already reveals it all. One I came across reads "Okla. Man Sentenced to Life for Holding Stepdaughter Captive for 19 Years, Fathering Her 9 Children"

The Trigger warning came under a picture, saying: "Trigger Warning: This article contains information and details about alleged sexual assault and/or violence, which may be upsetting to some readers. "

What do you think I have already envisioned from reading the headline? You think I would not expect details of a certain nature to be detailed in the article after reading THAT headline?

Same with documentaries about wars warning me that there will be "Scenes of graphic violence." In a documentary about a war. Who would have thought that there could be violence.

Might as well give me a trigger warning that a book contains words.

Thursday, May 21, 2020


In John Wick, Chapter 2 (on Netflix), one subtitle reads

[Intense Music Intensifies]

Kinda what the world feels right now?