Happy New Year to our readers! We thought we'd kick the blog off for 2013 with a little controversy, or perhaps a little helpful (unbiased) advice to do with as you see fit. Rather than look at why you should appoint a PR agency, we thought we'd look at some common misconceptions and mistakes many businesses make when they embark on PR activity...
1. You don't really believe in PR, you're expecting it to fail and that's that.
PR needs client intervention; if you don't want it to succeed, it probably won't succeed. If you treat your PR agency like a supplier that sits in isolation, your PR results will be hindered by this. PR is an extension of your marketing team and one that sits on the same side of the fence as you - with the same goals and enthusiasm for your business. Chemistry is important as is the understanding that you get out of it what you put into it.
2. You want to use it to openly promote, directly sell or advertise your products/services to people.
PR is not about advertising, product plugs or hard-sell it's about creating a credible platform upon which you can build a brand and a reputation for your business and its services/products. PR is about a good story - it's a simple as that. No legitimate journalist is going to be be interested in boosting your business revenue, they aren't interested in your great customer service or your latest award win - BUT, they are interested in great stories, fantastic pictures and problems/issues which affect real people (whether B2B or B2C) - of course, if your business helps to solve that problem, even better.
3. You want to send out a press release (just the one).
Sending out one press release will provide little benefit for your business. Sure, you might get a few pieces of coverage, maybe a few national's too if you're lucky - but if you don't have consistency you are fighting a losing battle. People forget what they have read/seen; PR is about building momentum with your audience and your target media - the best PR results happen over a period of time and as your press coverage and awareness builds, so too will your audience base and subsequent revenue stream.
4. You aren't prepared to stick your neck out.
If you don't want to speak to journalists, you aren't prepared to speak your mind (within reason), and you'd rather avoid seeing your mug shot/product in the latest mag - then PR might not be for you. Equally, if you don't understand the benefit of helping a journalist (even when there may be no gain for you on that particular occasion), or you're afraid of controversy, your PR results will reflect that. The best spokespeople are those who stick their neck out, are prepared to help a journalist out (sometimes at short notice), can provide industry insight, are prepared to be a bit controversial or say something different to everyone else. I've seen it happen many times - be available and it pays off long term.
5. You have no confidence in the people/team.
Probably one of the most important elements of any PR appointment - the people. If you don't have confidence in the people who are running your PR programme (which may be for good reason), you are riding a slippery downward slope. If I had a pound for every time I heard complaints that senior members of the team came to pitch for the business but disappeared shortly afterwards, (leaving you with a handful of junior staff to run your campaign), I'd be a rich woman. The short answer to this is, demand more. Businesses should expect to see the same people that pitched working on their account. Remember that people buy people - if your instincts tell you something's wrong, it probably is.