Wed 16 Oct 2013
by Donald Silver
Does this sound familiar? You’ve paid good money to a public relations firm, and it’s been a few months. You’re disappointed. You expected more media coverage, fame and fortune.
The P.R. firm seems to be doing the right things. What happened? Here are some reasons why you haven’t seen the success you expected:
1. We had different expectations. One of the most important jobs that a P.R. firm has is to manage the client’s expectations. When a new client comes to us and says his goal is to get his company into the Wall Street Journal this month, our job is to explain the likelihood of that happening (probably not this month, but maybe in the next six months), and to lay out a realistic plan about what can be accomplished each month. Remember, these are expectations, not guarantees. When we work with the media, even stories that are slated to be published or broadcast get bumped. In addition, we are competing for clients against some firms who will say anything to get a sale, and promise the world to clients.
2. You didn’t give the time. Even if you’ve outsourced your P.R. work, you are still an important part of the process. Just as the P.R. firm’s responsibility is to keep you updated on its activities, you must also keep the P.R. firm up-to-date on what’s going on at your organization. You also need to make yourself available for interviews and for calls. Not doing this will lead to failed P.R. efforts.
3. The media wasn’t impressed. Maybe you thought you, your company, or your products and services were amazing, but the media didn’t. It’s hard to hear this, but in the scheme of things, you are probably a small fish in a big sea. Remember, the media is fickle, and they are getting pitched constantly. You are competing with thousands of other individuals, brands, and companies for the same top media coverage. In addition, a competitor you don’t even know about might have pitched them first. Or something else – a controversial news item, the economy, whatever, has their attention. Any way you slice it, it’s hard to get great media coverage even with the “hottest” product or service.
4. You didn’t give the P.R. firm enough time to be successful. As you can imagine, a hot news story takes precedent over everything. Plus, media folks go on vacation, seasonal stories may take priority, and more. Even if you have a good story, a P.R. firm may need to persist in pitching, and getting the story may take more time than you think. Here at Boardroom Communications, we recommend that you work with us for at least six months (and that’s a bare minimum). We’ve seen the most success with clients who’ve been with us for years, because we’ve been able to maximize the knowledge of your business coupled with our media relationships. The more time we spend pitching clients, the more opportunities for exposure. P.R. is a long-term proposition, and sometimes the ideas we plant don’t take fruit for a while.
5. You weren’t flexible. Whether our firm pitches clients to CNN or the Sun-Sentinel, we know that the likelihood of success is based on the news value of the pitch. We have to put ourselves in the shoes of the media and say, “What’s the news?” and “Why should I and my readers, viewers or listeners care?” That means that sometimes we need to change our pitches, and you and your firm may not get the front-page profile you want, but instead you might be quoted in a larger piece with several other sources. Some clients insist that we hold out for the “big story” and ignore the other opportunities. This diminishes the likelihood of overall P.R. success.
The bottom line: If you see yourself in any of these tips, know that you can make changes. When you do, your P.R. efforts will be more successful.