PRontheGO: Public Relations — Expectations vs. Reality
There are common illusions on the results to expect when it comes to hiring a PR agent. This is especially true for Start-Ups and Small Business Owners, who have limited experience with Public Relations. In order to correct some expectations, we asked leading PR experts to answer the following questions: What are the most common misconceptions about PR? How do you communicate with your prospect to solve them? Here are their answers:
The biggest misconception about PR is that people think we can pick up the phone and have the client on the news the next day. In some cases, if all the stars align, that is a possibility, but in reality, it takes weeks to get a client on television — depending on the news outlet and story idea.
We communicate realistic expectations with our clients. We advise them that they need to become an expert (with with our help) within their field to rise to the top of media trusted resources. It takes time, but quality, not quantity, stories are worth it.
— Rusty Foster, Founder of Bow Tie Strategies
As someone who’s been in public relations for more than 17 years in the corporate, nonprofit and agency space, I can confidently say that when most people think about public relations they automatically assume media coverage. Many company leaders even judge PR’s effectiveness based on number of media hits. Public relations is about so much more than media. Placements and media relationships are a huge piece of the puzzle, but PR experts help bridge the gap between a company, stakeholders and the public. They are responsible for maintaining image and public perception. They are often the link between the company and the community, and relationships of all kinds are exceedingly important. They’ll often work in tandem with a marketing team and utilize marketing tactics such as digital media and paid content. An excellent PR practitioner will use a number of tools: blogs, press releases, briefs, content, white papers, social media, events, the phone, and of course, relationships.
— Logan Stewart Kureczka, Director of Public Relations, Marketing at OrthoCarolina
Working both in-house and for public relations agencies, there are two primary misconceptions I have had to debunk with nearly all entrepreneurs. First, unrealistic time and turnaround expectations. Business owners often expect to see results within the first month or two of on-boarding a firm or publicist; unfortunately, that generally is not the case. Whether it be the need to nurture new press relationships, pitching trial and error, a prolonged editorial calendar, or simply an extended publishing turnaround, it’s critical to prepare client’s with realistic time expectations. The second misconception I consistently see is the assumption “big name publications” will always yield the highest ROI. Sharing past client case studies with solid data has helped many of my clients understand that often smaller, industry-related, or hyper-focused blogs can actually reach a more relevant audience. While it depends on a company’s specific PR goal, getting press that reaches a business’s actual target market, as opposed to simply aiming for only top publications can, and typically does, produce a higher ROI.
— Lexie Smith, VP of Business Development overseeing Public Relations and Marketing at GeoLinks
A common misconception is that you can “call in a favor” and get an article run on media sites. This is an old-school approach that may have worked back when there was less competition. Today we live in a very noisy new environment. A relationship will get you in the door, but coverage is NEVER guaranteed. The quality of the story/content is still the most important. You may have the best relationship with someone at the Wall Street Journal, but if the story isn’t topical and timely you’re still not going to the get the coverage. The quality of your content will always be the most important part of reaching out to media. — Ronjini Joshua, Founder and CEO of The Silver Telegram
1. Relationships mean press hits will happen quickly:
Many clients believe that because we’ve landed hits in top-tier outlets it will be easy to land them the same. However, there are many variables to account for when it comes to pitching. While discussing pitching strategies I always make expectations clear and realistic. Yes, we may have a chance to get you in X Y or Z, but it might take a few months depending on what the editorial team has planned.
2. One good press hit is all we need:
Clients will usually come in with one pie in the sky goal. Sure, landing on Forbes is huge, but maintaining a level of expertise by being on top business podcasts or smaller trade outlets is what fuels the brand recognition. I always stress the importance of looking beyond the one-hit wonder press hit when discussing potential spots for clients. We do want the big outlets, but we also want to keep their brand top of mind among their peers and potential buyers/clients. — Fabiana Meléndez, Publicist at Zilker Media
Expectation — Hiring a PR agency will make us rich.
Reality — A long term PR strategy + marketing + social media + paid media/advertising + a quality, innovative product/idea = sales, profit and success.
One of the most frustrating things that I hear from prospective clients is that they are struggling financially and heard that being featured in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal will fix their problems by generating sales and increasing profits. While it is true that integrating PR into an overall marketing plan is beneficial to any brand’s bottom line, the fundamental goals of our practice are to increase brand awareness, improve reputation and manage brand relationships. When a brand relies solely on media relations and publicity to generate enough sales to meet their quarterly goals, they set themselves up for failure.
— Diana Kozak, Partner, AD2 PR
One of the most common misconceptions among founders or people who don’t necessarily understand the intricacies of public relationships is that they could just commision people to push the narrative they want, and it’s all going to be going well.
While it is the publicists/public relations expert’s job to highlight the best narrative possible, it is also the journalists’ job to cut through the PR speak and tell the story that they believe their audience deserve.
To avoid the disconnect between both parties’ expectations, I advise the people I work with to ensure that all the messaging we put out there are the accurate especially if it involves technical development.
As a PR professional, it is my job to ensure that I bridge the gap between the storytellers (journalists) and the story makers (people who potentially make the headlines).
If I can ensure that both parties get exactly what they needed at exact moment, then it’s a win-win for both parties. — Jonha Richman, Blockchain PR Advisor
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