Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Self promotion – is it healthy for PR agencies?

When choosing a PR agency, a company chooses one that is professional and knows how to generate PR.
Therefore, PR agencies must indulge in self promotion.
But how far can they go without loosing credibility?
Let’s look at two blatant self-promotors that are doing well.

The first is the mid-sized PR agency 5W.
Its founder and CEO Torossian loves to promote himself and his company.
One way he does that is by using his slogan "5WPR, the fastest growing public relations firm in the US", a trick often used in viral marketing.
He is also a master at hammering out press releases, including client wins, growth and employment opportunities.
Torossian even put out press releases voicing his opinion.
In one, he called Lizzie Grubman, another excellent selfpromotor, "an embarrassment to the PR industry".
In another, he described Howard Rubenstein, president of Rubenstein Associates, and the eminence gris of the PR industry, as "old and tired" urging his clients to defect to 5W.
This kind of tactics don’t always go down well with Mr. T’s existing clients -Manhattan attorney Ben Brafman left the agency as a result.
Funny enough, Torossian is so successful at generating media attention that he is being mentioned in the same breath as Lizzie Grubman.

Lizzie Grubman is the founder and owner of Lizzie Grubman PR.
Until her much-publicized car accident in 2001 (when she slammed a SUV backward into a crowd of people at the Hamptons club Conscience Point (one of her clients), injuring sixteen), she was known as a plugged-in publicist who interacted with Jay-Z, Sean "Puffy" Combs, Paris Hilton, Tara Reid and Britney Spears.
The accident made her loose clients such as Chanel, and her partnership with PR guru Peggy Siegal, dissolved.
After serving jail time, she carefully and successfully rebuilt her business.
She was able to keep clients such as Combs and Conscience Point.
She also does work for HBO, DreamWorks, and the MGM Grand and started a new partnership with fellow celebrity publicist Jonathan Cheban.
What could backfire is her starring in MTV’s reality show Power Girls.

So when does self-promotion become unprofessional?
When it leaves the marketing field and enters into the realm of meaningless hype.
Being on page 6 of the New York Post might work well for socialites like Paris Hilton et al, but could backfire on PR professionals.
To quote MWW CEO Michael Kempner:
"When business ethics and values take a back seat to growing a business at all costs, self promoters become a major accident waiting to happen."
Jerry Schwartz, president of the prestigious PR agency G.S. Schwartz and Co remarked:
"I personally am not a believer in getting more press for ourselves than our clients.
We don't cross over into the line of treating ourselves like we're clients."

How should a founder/owner of an agency self promote?
The best method is to carefully select media opportunities that fit into the agency’s business plan and strategy.
A good example is a strategic appearance on The O’Reilly Factor as a PR expert commenting on a current situation.
Mike Paul of MGP & Associates is a perfect example.
By being selective, he established himself as an expert on reputation management on TV and in numerous newspaper articles.

Generating publicity for the PR agency by self-promotion builds client confidence.
But self-promotion should never overshadow the publicity efforts for the clients.
Ironically, being too successful at self-promotion can lead to the demise of the agency…

1 comment:

Tiffany and Apple said...

I most definitely thing that PR Firms should promote themselves. It's the only way for them to gain recognition and business, but I agree - going on 'Power Girls' may not be her best move, though when did being on an MTV Reality Show ever skyrocket anyone's career really. 15 Minutes only.