Martin Waxman

PR: Moving the Profession from Talkers to Makers

By: Martin Waxman | October 22, 2013 | 
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PRBy Martin Waxman

Macher is an old Yiddish expression that, literally translated. means maker, but idiomatically is far from that.

It’s often used pejoratively and refers to a person who considers her/himself a big-shot or big time operator – often pictured as a guy with a fat cigar.

It’s not all bad – machers are well-connected, like to put themselves in the center of things, and can be good people to call if you’re looking for an introduction or trying to find the latest news. Hmmm, reminds me of a few PR pros I know!

Disclosure: I have, from time to time, been a macher, and it surprises me to say I haven’t minded that at all.

I thought about the term after I talked to Jay Baer on Inside PR 3.49.

I was interviewing him about his new book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help, Not Hype and forthcoming keynote at Meshmarketing in Toronto.

PR: Talkers Versus Makers

I asked him about the state of the PR industry and he said the challenge for PR is this: We’re mainly talkers, in a world where companies are looking for makers.

Makers are creators of content – videos, websites, infographics, white papers, or other sharable social objects.

Talkers on the other hand…well, they talk about it, maybe even offer advice or a strategy, but when push comes to shove they have to outsource the work.

It’s safe to say that in the evolving marketing communications landscape, PR firms are competing more and more often with ad, digital, social media, content, and whatever new hybrid agencies appear on the horizon.  And the industry’s challenge is not only to get clients to think about us, but to think of us first.

Putting Creativity Where Our Mouths Are

Here are five steps we can take right now to get us closer to the maker end of the spectrum:

  1. Lights, camera, PR school. PR education needs to add visual storytelling to its curricula ASAP, including courses in photography, audio and video production, coding, and online graphic design. Some graduates can specialize in the new disciplines. Everyone else should at least have a basic knowledge.
  2. Go DIY. Working professionals must commit to learning something new on their own time. Maybe it’s making a GIF, starting and maintaining a blog that enhances your personal brand, or researching and writing a long form article. You can do it yourself, find online courses or enroll in a local program.
  3. Redefine the PR industry. We still spend too much time referring to public relations by what we’re not (i.e. not advertising). Compound that with the fact many clients hire us primarily for publicity. But it’s essential we tell our story by demonstrating the value we provide, and how we help clients achieve their goals.
  4. Step out of the news release box. The next time you’re about to suggest a news release, try to come up with three other content recommendations to accomplish the same business objectives, just differently.
  5. Hire makers. Listen to them, adapt to their perspectives and integrate them into the fiber of the agency.

Many people across the disciplines have been trained for one skill, gotten really good at it, and now find they need to master new types of expertise. Let’s take the lead and transform PR from talkers to makers – or from machers to um…machers – but without the big fat cigar!

Are you a talker or a maker? What do you think we need PR do to upgrade the profession?

About Martin Waxman


Martin Waxman is executive vice president for our Canadian partner firm, Thornley Fallis. He is a social media and communications strategist, founder of three PR agencies, blogger at myPALETTE, Inside PR co-host, social media instructor, and former fiction writer, comedy MC, and Winnipegger.

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