On occasion, I write feature articles for a popular lifestyle blog. Busy as I am running an agency, I find value in writing these features because it puts me back in the position of the reporter and reminds me of the toils of those in “the media.” Inevitably, I’m affirmed regarding the value that the PR services my company provides offers our clients.
Here’s a primo example. On a recent quest to write a product-focused trend story, I reached out to six industry professionals whose names were provided to me by the media outlet for which I was writing. These business people were suggested as sources for my story in large part because their target customers are readers of this particular media outlet. I sent each contact an email in which I asked one succinct question and stated a clear deadline. Of the six I contacted, I heard back from one. After sending a follow-up reminder just before deadline, I got only one more response. Four others missed out on being part of the story–a story that reached their target audiences beautifully and would have provided generous mentions and links back to websites. Their silence made my job as the writer so much more difficult.
A good PR firm can alleviate moments like I just described. Even if you can’t retain a firm for ongoing representation, you should have a relationship with a trusted PR provider so that you can turn to them when you need them. Here’s why.
–A good PR firm will help you build positive media relationships. With the right representation, you/your company will be known as a trusted resource by members of the press–even if you have to decline to participate in a story. How will a PR firm do this? By responding promptly. By responding thoroughly. By being honest and true to company message without betraying business confidences. By respecting the reporter’s time and understanding the nature of her media outlet and its readership. By being flat-out nice and pleasant to work with.
–A good PR firm will help you define your brand voice and core messages. Public relations/media relations doesn’t exist in a silo; it must work synergistically with marketing and paid advertising and act as an extension of all other communications. Now more than ever because of social media, your company is ‘out there,’ and quality, expert level PR representation will guide the voice that you create and present to the world–ensuring you speak with consistency, authenticity, and relevance.
—A good PR firm will help you listen, not just speak. The world of media–from traditional publications and broadcast outlets to web-based media and blogs–is teeming with insights that can be of benefit to your business, and your PR firm must know its media outlets and contacts extremely well. At this professional level of “knowing,” your PR firm will be able to provide insights that serve as market research and that spark ideas for your business. It’s the firm’s job to be apprised about relevant topics, editorial calendars, even social media banter and conversations–so that they can ensure not only that you have a voice in the mix but that you have a listening ear in the mix, as well.
—A good PR firm will be proactive and present opportunities to you. Experienced PR experts know how to watch editorial calendars and zone in on current events in order to create meaningful tie-ins for your business. Even highly attuned business leaders who are good at spotting potential coverage opportunities may not have the bandwidth to take action in those moments. That’s why they need the support that PR professionals can provide.
—A good PR firm will integrate social media into its strategies and tactics. While the topic of “is social media a function of PR or marketing?” deserves its own blog post, I’ll convey my stance by stating that any PR firm worth its salt will have an impressively firm grip on the use of social media in context with an overall PR program. If the ultimate goal of PR is to “relate to the public,” there’s just no denying that social media must be in the mix in a significant way. I feel so strongly about this that i tell my clients I don’t want to manage their PR programs unless I can also manage their social media. In my estimation, the two are that closely intertwined.
Want to talk through any of the above points specifically for your brand? Please, drop me a line anytime to start the discussion.
Thanks for reading!