PR Firm Stacks Former Security Editors

By: Carlton Purvis, Published on Aug 09, 2013

CompassPR [link no longer available], whose clients [link no longer available] include Tyco, Genetec, Siemens and Mobotix, is poised to become the most powerful PR agency in the security industry after adding one of the most well-known security trade magazine editors to its roster.

Deborah O'Mara, former editor-in-chief and managing director of Security Dealer and Integrator Magazine, joined CompassPR recently, according to her updated LinkedIn profile [link no longer available]. The new entry says she will work as the agency’s editorial director.

This addition bolsters a PR team already made up of former trade magazine editors from Security Director News, the former editor-in-chief of Access Control & Security Systems magazine and the former managing editor of Security Products magazine.

Calls to CompassPR about the addition were not returned. 

Smart Strategy

It is common for former reporters and editors to leave journalism for PR, a more lucrative profession that requires similar skills and where you can still use your existing relationships. However, this can impact even current editors who recognize career advancement comes from eventually being hired by the companies they cover or their paid PR agencies.

From a PR perspective, it is a smart strategy. A good PR team, gets its clients quoted, case studies printed and face time with editors at trade shows. Who best knows the way get ideas from pitch to publication than former editors? Their connections to the magazines give them leverage and rapport to get clients’ information printed. For example, when Micropower, a niche wireless manufacturer and CompassPR client, raised $5.6 million it was covered by almost every security trade magazine. Dropcam raised $30 million the same week but was not covered by them (though see our Dropcam funding discussion). PR companies with close ties to magazines strongly improve the likelihood of getting favorable coverage.

And CompassPR is not the only agency who recognizes this -- the Eclipse Media Group team is former editors of Security Systems News, Security Director News and Ventas de Seguridad.

PR Agencies Do More than Article Placement 

Depending on the account, they are managing social media accounts, tracking web statistics, scheduling speaking engagements, measuring the impact of negative events, and building databases of media contacts and lists of events.

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But Firms Judged By Quantity 

Despite the scope of their work, getting published in magazines or on websites is often the standard by which clients measure an agency's effectiveness and getting published in print is much more coveted than online (especially with security companies where print is still popular among readers). In my time at a trade magazine, PR people would always want to know if a piece would be published online or in print. These pieces essentially work as free advertisements where a single page ad would cost thousands. 

Content Quality Will Suffer

It is no secret that the print industry is struggling and publications are cutting staff. PR agencies know this and fill the void with prepared content that often gets published without any scrutiny. For the end users and readers it means they will be subjected to less original, insightful content and pages filled with stories put together based on relationships rather than what is best for their needs or the industry. This also means almost no analysis or critical dialogue about claims made by companies. 

For manufacturers, if you are not a major advertiser or paying CompassPR, it might just get harder to get covered.

UPDATE October 2013

Just 3 months later, Deborah Omara has left CompassPR, according to her LinkedIn Profile [link no longer available].

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