What is PR for People?
At first PR for People® was an idea, sort of like democracy. We wanted to equalize the playing field by giving people a fair chance to get recognition and success. Most people don’t know that PR for People® is a trademarked brand that’s been around for 12 years. Through the years, PR for People® has become many things.
We started out as a website that provided low-cost P.R. tools and services. We offered a media switchboard service that gave people press opportunities. Journalists were always seeking people to interview for their news stories. Sometimes journalists want experts and sometimes they want ordinary people who have had unique experiences in life or in business.
Every day we scouted the media wire services for media requests that were relevant to our subscribers. When we spotted a good media request, we routed it to our people. So, in effect, we were acting as an intermediary between people and the press.
Then there was a meltdown in the traditional media industry. We stopped doing the media switchboard service because the media requests declined in number and in quality. With fewer media outlets, it became harder to get our clients good press coverage. So, we decided to become our own media outlet.
The Connector Magazine
In 2012, we started the digital magazine The Connector so our clients were assured of getting media coverage. We also wanted to write stories about people who might not ordinarily get recognition for who they are and what they do. Getting stories placed about you in the press often takes a P.R. professional or P.R. agency and that costs a lot of money. Most people can’t afford to pay P.R. firms. Retainers cost thousands of dollars a month. We wanted to give people a fair chance to get news stories written about them.
At first our magazine was quarterly, but it quickly grew to become a monthly. We write original news stories about people. We write about all kinds of people. I’d like to say we are pro-diversity but calling it diversity can be confusing and often political. Let’s just say that we write about the full range of humanity. We think of ourselves as being totally inclusive. Our stories are positive, upbeat and meant to strike a very human chord. We want to inspire you to feel an emotional connection with the people we write about. And we want you to learn something, too.
Around the time that we started the magazine, the bottom was falling out of the media as an industry. Good time to start a magazine, right? The media meltdown made it harder than ever for people to get news stories written about them. There are a lot of reasons why the media was failing. Some reasons have to do with all of the corporate consolidation. Other reasons are due to the internet and increasing reliance on being digital. People expect to get the news for free. Well, someone has to pay for it. News reporters, newsrooms and the process of making news, all of this costs a lot of money. Now there are large media conglomerates who are footing the bill. They are also controlling the flow of news.
If you’re interested in learning more about the state of the media as an industry, check out our podcasts on PR for People. We’ve produced two media think tanks. Right now, I’d rather talk about people.
The News Portal and News Flashes.
We wanted to share our news beyond offering a magazine. So, in October 2015 we launched a news portal. Now we take the news from our website to create news flashes, sort of news bulletins that we send to our lists. After being around for so many years, our distribution lists are pretty big.
Niche in publishing stories about real people
PR for People is many things. In old fashioned terms, I guess you could say that we’re champions for the common man. Only by today’s standards it’s about the common person—many different kinds of people. Everyday people. I guess you could say that we tell stories about ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things. We are the only media outlet that is focused on sharing great stories about people.
Politics – Conservative vs. Liberal
Years ago, I met this radio journalist from L.A named Jim Kearney who said to me, “You’re one of those Seattle Liberals.” I was astonished because I never thought of myself as a Liberal. I always thought of myself as someone who is talented, disciplined and thinks deeply about things. I might view some aspects of economics with a conservative bent and at the same time view many social issues through a progressive lens.
Liberals can be as close-minded as conservatives. Fascists come in all colors. Anyone who is not for the interests of the people is an Elitist. Elitists can be from the extreme right or the extreme left and they only care about their own self-interests and staying on top at the expense of all the rest of us. They don’t care about the common good.
Elitists do not believe that all men are created equal. They don’t believe in what Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg address:
"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
Abraham Lincoln used the term proposition because he knew that the proposition that all men are created equal is something we will have to fight for again and again. We can’t ever take the proposition of equality for granted. We have to always be on guard that we are safeguarding our liberty.
Fundamentally, PR for People believes in democracy. From that standpoint, our media outlet is political. We believe every voice needs to be heard and every person needs to be respected. By telling our stories, we give a fresh voice to people.
PR for People Podcasts
We thought podcasts are a natural extension of our story telling. In August 2018, we launched our podcast service. Podcasts are a wonderful way to tell a larger story about people. With podcasts we can share our stories through the process of having a genuine conversation.
What are some challenges in going digital?
The two major challenges are making money and competing with other media outlets.
Financially speaking, I’ve semi-retired. I’ve phased-out my P.R. firm. I’m telling stories about people because I love it, not because I’m being paid to do it.
Competing with other media outlets is huge. There is so much clutter out there. Many traditional media outlets are dead or dying. New media companies barely last three years. In some ways, PR for People is a pioneer in the industry because we’re all about people and we believe in democracy. We believe in principles of fairness. And we have great writers on board who are committed to our vision. We will fight for the proposition that all men [people] are created equal.
Where does magazine publishing stand?
There is tremendous freedom to expand a digital news outlet without having the baggage of having been a traditional news organization. We don’t need to gain market share. We don’t need to rely on advertisers. We can do what we want and always be trying something new. We can afford to fail. No one is holding a gun to our heads, telling us what numbers we should be making. We realize our greatest success is really about the last great story that we’ve told. We’re only as good as our last story.
What are the types of stories we personally like to feature?
We like to feature stories that have not been covered by traditional news outlets. The people whom we have covered have amazing stories to share. We were the first magazine to feature a group of Vietnamese American women on the cover. Imagine that! Why has the Vietnamese American community been so overlooked in America? Their stories need to be told.
So do the stories about many other immigrants. Immigrants are a source of great strength in America. Immigrants make our country grow stronger. We featured Ned Halilovic, who is a refugee from Bosnia. His earliest memories are of a war zone, where people were killing one another over their religion and nationality.
One of my favorite cover stories had nothing at all to do with immigrants and featured an American icon—the legendary ad man George Lois. As the Art Director for Esquire Magazine from 1962 to 1972, George Lois created ninety-two covers that ignited equal parts of controversy and shock. It is only poetic justice that Mr. Lois should have his own cover story on a magazine. George Lois walked us through the process that led to his idea of putting Muhammad Ali in the pose of a martyr on the cover of Esquire Magazine.
We’ve also featured cover stories about natural beauty in our public parks throughout America and the impact beauty has on our health and sense of well-being. Another one of my favorite stories covered young people who are true stewards and have already moved into positions of leadership—it’s an inspiration to us all!
Aside from stories about people, every month, we profile a library. We believe that libraries are the face of democracy. Libraries are the true heartbeat of every community. They are open to all and free for all. The key to understanding people and the world around us begins with education. One way to learn about the world is by developing a love of books. Each month, we profile a library. Large, small, urban, rural, post-modern, quaint or neo-classic. So, if you have a library that you love, please tell us about it.
Where do we see the Magazine going?
I don’t have a crystal ball. I’m not sure how PR for People will evolve. I only know that we’ve lasted for seven years and we’re going to last for at least seven more. We’ve already outlived a lot of other media outlets that had a lot more money than we had. I only know we’re going to continue telling great stories. I believe in the beauty of people. And I believe in our democracy.