The Cat and Mouse Strategy – It applies to PR

This is an excerpt from “The Tao of PR” by Mark Macias.

Why does the cat always catch the mouse? When you think of how agile and quick a mouse can be, he should always outmaneuver the cat. Yet, nearly 100 percent of the time, the cat will catch the mouse.

That’s not just a fun question. It’s actually a way of thinking that applies to PR and business.

First off, I’m not an expert on mice or cats. I have never owned a cat and I hate mice. But as a person who lives in Manhattan, and every New Yorker will tell you – “if you have mice, get a cat and the problem will go away.” There’s a reason why everyone says that and I believe the strategy also applies to public relations and business.

The Cat and Mouse PR Approach

A cat traditionally studies its prey before it attacks. It tries to understand the mouse’s movements and agility in advance. It is also more patient. The cat takes his time approaching the mouse, waiting for the right moment to pounce while the mouse is preoccupied with the ground.

In the world of public relations, you should study and understand the journalists you want to pitch because you only get one chance.

If you fire off that story idea before it is completely developed, you risk losing an opportunity for coverage. Many clients want to see results quickly, and as a business owner, I understand. I want to see a high rate of return as well on my investments. But if the execution of the strategy is rushed and sloppy, you risk losing out on solid media placements.

As for the mouse, I will never understand why he continually gets caught. He is faster and more agile and should be able to run circles around the puffy paw.

I’ve watched mice move on the streets of Manhattan. Trust me, I couldn’t catch one in my house but I guarantee you I can catch a cat anywhere. The mice gets caught because he is afraid.

No Fear with your PR Strategy

A creative media strategy requires confidence in an idea and strength with the execution. You can’t be afraid of creative ideas when pitching reporters. Sure, I’ve come up with some crazy publicity stunts and not all of them worked. But a good majority did. If I were afraid of failure, I would have missed out on the home runs. The same applies to your business. You can’t be afraid like that little mouse.

Finally, the mouse fails because he doesn’t think. If you have observed any mouse in a kitchen after turning on the light, you’ll see they don’t react to change well. Their bodies scramble without direction. It’s like they are immobilized by the sudden change in environment.

Fear Undermines the PR Strategy and Stifles Creativity

If you’re trying to succeed with media placements, you really do need to think like a cat but move like a mouse. If an idea doesn’t seem to be catching on, listen to the feedback of reporters. Are you missing an element with your idea? Does the reporter need more evidence to support the story? Be nimble and respond to their questions; Be like the mouse – fast, agile and quick to respond; Be like the cat – strategic on your approach, measuring the situation before attacking

In the cartoon, Tom & Jerry, the mouse always won because he out- thought the big, slow cat. Of course, that is the land of fiction, but since the Tom & Jerry narrative was created by a real person, I can now understand why little Jerry won every time the two battled wits.

Finance Monthly and ACQ5 5 – an international industry award – named Macias PR the 2017 and 2018 Strategic PR Firm of the Year, and PR Firm of the Year – USA. This was the third year in a row that Finance Monthly recognized our firm.

The founder – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He is also a PR contributor with CNBC, providing media analysis, insight and crisis advice on timely business topics.