When it comes to earned media (the kind of media you don’t pay for), Public Relations is an often misunderstood, sometimes misliked and occasionally despised industry.
We are trying to change the perception of the industry. We believe in the power of the press, especially when leveraged via social media, because it offers businesses and brands a unique ability to receive legitimate recognition.
However, after hearing so many horror stories from our news contacts and our clients, who have had bad experiences with firms, we wanted to offer some tips to help you hire the right firm and approach your current PR relationship with realistic expectations.
No hidden agenda here. We love earned media and want you to see its value as well!
If your goal for using a PR firm is to secure media in credible outlets that target your audience, they should do it. It sounds simple, but it isn’t. PR and kids’ sports (don’t get us started) seem to be the only places where effort is accepted and even rewarded. A seven-page report outlining all of the outlets your firm reached out to, is of no benefit if they did not secure actual media interviews.
There are many different pricing models in the market. We’ve heard of firms that encourage writers to spend hours writing a press release to increase the invoice. We’ve heard of firms who significantly increase the cost of posting press releases on a news wire. We’ve heard of firms who charge thousands on media kits. Some firms ask for a long-term commitment, some charge per media interview and some charge hourly. Our advice is to find a firm that aligns with your goals. Do you want to pay for time? Do you want to pay for materials to give to the press? Do you want to pay for someone to secure you interviews?
To ensure your firm can secure earned media, they need to think like news reporters, writers and decision-makers. The PR professional handling your account needs to understand the difference between a package and vo/sot, an MMJ and a photog. In fact, they need to have written them so they know how to write copy that could actually be printed, published or broadcast. Only a media-centered mindset can be successful in securing regular and consistent media. For example, we rarely use press releases because we know, based on our experience as journalists, they are not reliable for securing regular media coverage. We believe in securing media based on the relationships we’ve built with media contacts across the country. Ask your firm what their placement rate is? How many of their clients have they secured media interviews for. (Shameless plug: We have a 100% placement rate, which means all the clients we’ve ever worked with have received media interviews.)
You are a (fill in the blank) expert. You are not a news anchor, reporter or host. You should not be expected to know how to do a good TV, radio or phone interviews. You should not know which camera to look at or how much makeup to wear or how to talk in sound bites. Request training and practice from your firm prior to each interview. Make sure they teach you how to handle a tough question during a live interview. Oh boy, do we have stories….
PR is often referred to as a marathon, not a sprint, and it can be difficult to show ROI. However, it is totally reasonable to request viewership and valuation reports so you know how many people are seeing and listening to your appearances. Whether it is client retention, new clients, new employees or increased brand recognition, you should expect to receive value from your relationship with a public relations firm.
At Media Minefield, we are redefining public relations with a little magic. We are disrupting the industry because accountability, honesty and results should be part of any PR relationship.