Public relations is one of the most alluring, fast-paced and competitive industries to work within. Whether you were drawn into the industry because you like writing, managing information, or garnering press - one thing is certain, it is not for the faint-hearted.
It is also not for D-I-Y doers.
Yes, it is okay to buy a press release template and craft a release if you intend to dock it on your website, under the press tab. No, It is not okay to assume that media outlets will reach out to you because you put the release on your website.
No, CNN will not call you for an interview. No, ELLE magazine will not put you on the cover. If you are serious about getting publicity, hiring a publicist or an agency is your best bet. At a minimum, speaking to a consultant can help you understand why cold calling a journalist who writes about fashion trends to write about your cook book is unacceptable.
PR pros know how journalists, editors, and writers prefer to be contacted, and how to negotiate exclusivity. We spend years (and a lot of money attending conferences) building our network, so when we need a story to go out quickly, we can go through our Twitter lists, roller-deck, business card binder, email addresses, and cell phone. Our contacts are scared. Asking us to share our contacts with you is not okay. Journalists are overloaded with people asking them for press coverage each day and usually by someone who is copying and pasting the same email to other people in the same newsroom as them. It is the publicists responsibility to decide and leverage newsworthy coverage that benefits the client, and it must be done in a way that is respectful of journalists.
To help you better understand, if you’re revealing a new logo, as your publicist, I would share that news on social media, Facebook first, because it’s community-based. If you are changing the name of your company, as your publicist, I would write a press release and have it go through a newswire. A newswire can be costly, but it’s worth it because it improves the visibility of your news and helps you connect with your target audience. You would not want consumers still referring to your company by its old name because you never put out a statement to newswires. You know who did this wrong? Rally’s. The company formerly known as Rally’s is…Checkers! It has been more than a decade, but I remember it because I never really heard a bell to unring the name across a mass campaign. Smh.
I confess I am a snob when it comes to the public relations industry because we have a bad rep. There are a lot of party-promoters and event planners who use PR tactics but self-identify as a publicist when a job or pay calls for PR professionals skills. This brings me to four reasons why you should hire a public relations agency and not someone who knows a few PR tactics.
When things go wrong, you will always immediately fill with worry. Publicists are trained to begin researching and strategizing around formulas such as C.A.C. We handle the situation with care, action, and context. If there is a rumor, we research the rumor, take control of the rumor and address the rumor through the RIA formula. Publicists break down the reach, importance, and level of ambiguity of the rumor. We center the truth and take a position that is comfortable for the client and enough for the public. Don’t handle a crisis on your own. Even large companies are handling crises poorly. If something goes word, the last thing you should do is spin it. Spin is propaganda; it is used to deceive people and convince them to buy-in to what is being said or sold. Always be honest about your business, it’s successes and failures. The public is forgiving when you apologize for a mistake, not when you lie to cover it up. Get your PR team to serve as the first and last line of defense.
The way you introduce yourself to the world is often the way the world will see you for years to come. Whether it is adversity towards a product or tragedy, reputation is the key elements of your business being successful or failing. Customers value trust above all else. For example, if you are a skincare company and you attend a conference where the founder is speaking on regulations of the beauty industry, and you cannot answer honestly that animals were not tested and harmed to produce your product, as a consumer, I would not trust you as a beauty lead, or businessperson. A publicist would can prep you for situations like that. You cannot respond, “oh, email me and I’ll ask the company that supplies my product.” Hire a publicist to help you craft the three things your business does exceptionally well, what your company is working on and what’s to come. If I were a consumer, I would believe you and continue to support you because you know your brand and where you plan to take it next. The more long-time consumers you have that trust you, the more of them will support you on social media, write reviews and video testimonials.
Return On Investment
Katie Bouwkamp said it best when she said, “the public relations industry has a big PR problem when it comes to communicating how it directly impacts the bottom-line.” Today, PR pros rely on several systems to be able to tell if your press plan is bringing in money or wasting money. The most popular way to know if your PR plan is thriving is website traffic generated after people read your earned media articles. PR pros use metrics such as website visitors generated, leads created through form submissions, and transactions completed (for e-commerce companies). To put it simply, web analytics track goal conversions and assign a dollar value to those conversions. Public relations firms are managing campaigns, writing news releases, producing content for social media and arranging interviews, preparing clients for press conferences, so that you can gain and retain loyal consumers. PR pros take your stakeholders seriously and have a deep understanding of what it means when those stakeholders are happy or unhappy.
No matter how much you want to save money by running your social media account on your own, you will never be able to do it better than someone who knows how to do it practically and most importantly, theoretically. You will miss out on consumers every day who would have gladly paid $14 for a vegan lip balm - I know because I am one of those people. Believe it or not, there is a science and psychology behind levering your social media, and PR pros have mastered it. When you entrust a PR pro with your social media assets, we goal set between social capabilities to increase your brand awareness, get you a higher quality of sales, create a loyal fan base and get you a better pulse in your industry. We know how to find your competitors, not to necessarily to take them out but to make sure you are setting the standard, leading the way and bringing in just as much, of nor more revenue. We know what strategies to use to drive engagement and sales (for those of us who are hybrid-mass communications professionals) because we do a lot of social listening to find out what your consumers are saying about the brand and product. Let a PR pro manage your social media, not only so you can serve as the face, voice, and brand of your company, but so you can continue to grow your business.
In the vast skillsets of PR pros, there are a few things you should never D-I-Y, the four are mentioned are the ones I do not waiver on. Trust me it’s worth it, hire a PR firm.
By: Danyelle R. Carter
Danyelle R. Carter is the President of Her Communications Agency, the first communications and public affairs firm committed to delivering high impact strategy to organizations, companies, and candidates that center on advancing women and girls. She formerly served as a U.S. Digital and Press Congressional Staffer and legislative support for women and girls. While serving in the House of Representatives, Danyelle helped launched the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls and Multicultural Media Caucus. Most notably, she conceptualized and wrote the bill to get a statue representative of Shirley Chisholm in the U.S. Capitol that is now being championed by Rep. Yvette Clarke (NY) and Senator Kamala Harris (CA). Connect with Danyelle on Twitter.