Whenever I talk to people who don’t work in PR, I’m often fascinated by their misconceptions about the industry – that it might be glam, big money magazine deals and battling to keep my clients out of the latest front-page exposé.
And it makes me wonder if businesses are put off by these kinds of incorrect assumptions about how PR works and what it can achieve.
So, let’s clear up some of those myths!
1. It’s all about schmoozing and champagne
Absolutely Fabulous clearly has a lot to answer for.
While it would be lovely to do nothing all day except wine and dine the media in exchange for amazing press coverage, that’s (sadly!) not the case.
Firstly, no journalist worth their salt can be ‘bought’. Printing a story in exchange for any kind of freebie is a sure-fire way to destroy their reputation.
Impressing a journalist is less about long lunches and more about a quick pitch offering a great news story that’s perfect for their pages.
So, rather than quaffing champers with editors, you’re more likely to find me sipping tea while I delve down into my clients’ businesses to find the hidden gems that’ll make a cracking headline.
2. Advertising is a better use of budget
Pay for a page in a newspaper or 30 seconds of airtime and you can print or say exactly what you like about your business (within reason) – ‘unbeatable service’, ‘fine quality products,’ ‘the best ingredients’- you can be the ‘best in the world’ if you’re paying and it’s your opinion!
But the reader or listener knows you have paid for that space and that you have control over the message.
When your target customer reads a great article about your latest product, new shop or venture written by someone else, they see it as third-party endorsement. They’ll view a journalist’s impartial opinion as more trustworthy and believable than an advert. They know that advertising is purchased and PR is earned.
As the old adage goes, “Advertising is saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you’re good.” (Jean-Louis Gassée – former Apple Executive)
3. PR is an expensive luxury only big businesses can afford
Hire a large agency with swanky offices overlooking the Thames and sure, you’ll be paying a pretty penny.
All those expensive overheads will be reflected in your fee and you’ll likely be required to commit to a monthly four figure retainer for a minimum period.
But PR comes in many shapes, sizes and price points.
It’s not necessary to pay for bells and whistles when what you really need is effective, tailored communications carried out by someone who understands your business and your target market. Work with a small, independent PR and you’re more likely to get a bespoke service that fits your budget.
4. You only need PR in a crisis
PR isn’t just about firefighting.
It’s about telling the story of your business, building trust, credibility and a good reputation. It’s also about staying on top of what’s being said about your organisation and managing your message. That way, should any negative publicity arise, you’ll be in a good position to stop it in its tracks.
In fact, work with a good PR from the off and the chances are you’ll have very few fires to fight!
5. All publicity is good publicity
I’ve yet to meet a client who thinks a bad review or being caught up in a scandalous story is ‘good publicity’.
But press coverage doesn’t have to be obviously negative to not be considered ‘good’. For example, a namecheck in a feature is fine but if it doesn’t give any information or opinion about your products and services, will it have much impact on your business?
‘Good publicity’ is about achieving coverage in relevant titles, with a clear, positive message that reaches your target audience.
6. It’s all about press releases and coverage
Good PR is about presenting you and your business in the best possible light.
That can mean an eye-catching, well-written website, social media posts that really engage with your audience, blogs that offer help and advice to your customer or fun and interactive events.
Press releases and media coverage are a large part of PR but they’re not the be-all-and-end-all.
A good PR strategy takes a holistic approach to every aspect of your communications.
Hopefully I’ve set the record straight on a few things.
But if you have more questions or are considering hiring a PR but aren’t quite sure if it’s right for you, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org . I’m always happy to receive emails, talk on the phone or meet for tea and a chat (remember, that’s tea, not Champagne…unless the day has started really badly!)