For many people and organisations, handling your own PR sounds like a great way to maximise your marketing budget; entirely understandable, particularly when there’s an assumption that agency retainer costs include all the zeros.
Here’s the thing – they don’t have to. There are lots of PR professionals out there, with great track records and niche interests, who don’t require a kidney as part payment. And if experience has taught us anything, it’s that DIY is usually best left to daytime TV…
What makes a Professional?
Huge numbers of PR professionals are former journalists. Their news instinct and understanding of how the media operates places them perfectly to zone in on your brand story and make it irresistible to the right outlet/opportunity. They’ve been the harassed journalist and they know what they wanted to see landing in their email inbox – that means they already have the inside-track.
They’ll quickly identify your target market, the media outlets that have most traction with that grouping, and then find their way to the right journalist. They’ll also keep their peepers peeled for impromptu opportunities to jump on a news item.
Looking at the big picture
All that said, PR isn’t just about what you want to say, it’s about all the things you’re *actually* saying without even realising it. Your PR consultant will take a 360 degree view of what your communication is really saying about your business, at every touch point in the customer’s journey, and help manage your reputation proactively as well as when things don’t quite go to plan.
They’ll offer their experience in relation to media and public reactions to any moves you’re planning to make – or issues that explode onto your horizon – and solid counsel around managing the resulting communication.
This whole process isn’t a one-hit-wonder either, it’s constant relationship and brand building – strategic as well as opportunistic.
Weigh up your options
There’s no doubt that some people have the skills and confidence to deliver amazing results for their own business – it’s absolutely possible to handle your own PR. That said, you can be too close to see the risks as well as the rewards. When your business is something you’ve nurtured from a germ of an idea, it can be difficult to take a cold, hard look at its reality.
There’s also the issue of time and head space. I’ve yet to meet a business owner or CEO who has an abundance of either. PR requires focus, commitment and responsiveness and – when a multitude of other pressures are competing for your time – something has to give.
You can’t give PR a bash and then tick it off your list. Doing it well means consistently creating content that establishes you as an expert. As a process it’s time consuming and, when you’ve spent hours crafting and pitching, it can absolutely be disheartening. That’s where a thick hide and doggedness come in (key weapons in the PR armoury).
In turn a good PR is a strategic partner and a super, secret weapon for businesses. They challenge and innovate, start and join media conversations and ensure that your business is front of mind for your target market.
PR isn’t the icing, it’s the butter baked into the cake. Businesses need to recognise that brand positioning is an investment. They not only need to be prepared to respond to the negative, which will impact on trust and sales, but leap into action when there’s a conversation that they could and should be part of. If they’re not, someone else will be.
The good news is, you might be surprised by just how little it costs to stay relevant and set yourself apart from your competition. Want to know more? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org