As anyone in PR can tell you; it’s a tricky field. You have to put in a lot of effort and networking that is not visible to the company or client. In the end, it’s the results that count. Any company that hires a PR agency asks the same main questions.
In this post and the next one, I will address these FAQ.
1. No agency is in contact with all relevant journalists.
Yes, journalists of trade magazines and broadsheets relevant for you must be targeted - in the Americas, Europe, and the Far East depending on your business. But is it unrealistic to expect your PR agency to be on first name basis with all of them. They do have their own database and network though and will try to get you as much targeted exposure as possible. Please note that journalists don’t always bite. Yes, that is chutzpah considering how cool your company and product/service is, but that's life in the media lane.....
2. The location of a PR firm or professional is not that critical anymore.
However, if you are considering investor relations, it helps to be in or near the main financial centers, such as New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris or Tokyo. If you are targeting governmental agencies in the US, finding a PR agency near Washington DC helps, as does finding one in Brussels if you want to target EU-related governmental bodies and influencers.
3. Think local.
No PR agency is truly global. Many have partner agencies in other countries, which makes them highly effective. To reach journalists in Europe, you do need to communicate in the local language. No journalist of La Stampa, Le Monde, or Die Zeit will communicate with you in English.
4. You do need to send out press releases, but they must be newsworthy.
Publicly traded companies must put out a press release on any change that could influence investors’ decision to buy or sell stock (e.g., appointment of a new C-level manager or board member). Private companies can (and must) be far more selective. A new product release, major contracts, deals and partnerships, as well as received investments are all worthy of a press release.
To get the news out, I strongly recommend using one of the major paid distribution companies. My favorite is PR Newswire, which also takes care of translations and distributes to all media channels (including social media) in any region and industry you want.
5. A PR agency is only as good as the input they receive.
It is therefore crucial that you as a company or client share your goals, competitive information, and yes, all the relevant skeletons in you closet. Any publicity based on faulty or incorrect information, will backfire big time.
6. Some PR goals are unrealistic.
“Get me on Oprah” is a mantra that companies have been singing for many years. Chances are very slim, to say the least. Sending out (by email) and uploading B-roll footage (e.g., to YouTube) to be freely used by the media is cheaper and far more effective. Cold calling the media is a waste of time (and money), trust me!
To be continued in Part II - keep posted!
(Image courtesy of Jeff Bullas)