Client Education a Key Component of PR
Ask the average business owner or executive what public relations is and you’ll probably get widely varying answers. Some may view it as press releases while others view it as giving out free samples at public events. For some, it may be how much coverage they can get in the press, while for others it’s how they maintain investor relations.
Part of our jobs as PR/communications professionals is to educate our clients and prospects about what public relations can and can’t do. The following are actual quotes that we and other local PR professionals have heard from clients, as well as brief commentary on the reality that counters them.
“We need some PR. Go out and get us some PR.” – PR is not a commodity that can be purchased and easily quantified.
“I know the publisher of the local newspaper. Write up a story and I’ll walk it over to him.” – Most professional journalists maintain editorial independence and don’t run fluff pieces submitted by external writers.
“We need this to go viral. Can we you make it viral?” – If we as communicators could, wouldn’t everything be viral?
“We advertise with them, so they should run our news.” – Not necessarily, not if they are a reputable and ethical media outlet. Pay-for-play erodes the integrity of the outlet and smashes any semblance of objectivity.
“They ran a piece on our competitor. Get them to run one about us.” – Balance and equity is not the goal of the media. Provide them with new and valuable content and they’re more likely to cover you.
“They should cover us, we have a great story to tell.” – In who’s opinion? What may seem new and exciting to those most closely involved may seem mundane to editors who get dozens of story pitches every day.
So if PR does not provide a guarantee of generating coverage and promoting an organization’s good image – and it should never 100-percent guarantee anything – why hire a PR firm? I tell clients it’s to optimize their chances of getting their messages across to their key audiences.
We can leverage our communications skills, experience and contacts to craft the right message and get it to the right people at the right time, and follow up with them if necessary. While that doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome, it greatly improves the odds of doing so.