June 10, 2013 | Article | Public Relations
What We Do, and Can You Do It Too?
I recently read two great articles on Forbes and I thought I’d share them here.
First there was: What Does a Public Relations Agency Do?
Robert Wynne gives an accurate look at what we do (and don’t do) for our clients. But, he mainly compares public relations activities against advertising activities, which leaves out a lot. We obviously pride ourselves on our traditional PR skills, but the industry has changed so much in just the seven years I’ve been a part of it that to limit what we do to traditional activities it to undercut our value tremendously.
Traditional PR focuses on engaging with reporters to inform them of a company’s messaging and how they fit into current news trends, ultimately enticing them to write a story that features or mentions the client. The main benefit of this approach is that the general public views these stories more favorably than ads due to the third-party validation that is required for them to be produced.
What we actually do is get in the conversation and look at content, all forms of it. This, of course, includes traditional media placements but has more recently also focused on online content. Online content isn’t limited to articles that run in online publications but extends to include social media sites, blogs, website content and the like. Our programs for clients often include a mix of these things as well as some marketing tactics, such as award submissions and speaking submissions.
Obviously, this all depends on the clients’ needs and wants but I think this flexibility makes “what a public relations agency does” very hard to define in one article. Wynne did pen a follow up based on a number of responses to his original article that discusses the “other activities” that PR firms take on like analyst relations and the like. But, I still feel that it’s not a completely accurate portrayal of what we do to increase awareness for our clients.
Second, and the article I found more interesting is: What PR Agencies Do? Can You Do It Too?
This article by, Cheryl Conner, takes on the difficult decision of whether to take PR in house or hire an agency. She says:
Some companies do great PR with the help of agencies. Some do great public relations in house. If an organization does PR well, it hardly matters whether it was accomplished from within or without. But it matters hugely, either way, that they do the job well. And most every company we speak to and advise, by their own admission, knows they can and should be doing a better job of communicating than they currently do.
The PR process, she asserts starts when (or before) a company even opens its doors. It starts with the name, logo, branding, web copy, etc. All ways of communicating to the public who a company is and what it does.
The entrepreneur’s focus shouldn’t be as much on whether or not to take PR activities in house or not but on how to effectively communicate with the target audience. It should start from the very beginning and really focus on the messages you’re putting out there. This is especially important in the startup community, where budgets are tight and entrepreneurs are often in a rush to get their site started and message out there. It’s crucial to think long term about how your messaging is reflected on your website as that builds the foundation for communications that we’d work with once profits allow you to work with a firm.
For more info on how to get started with the basics of PR check out our PR for Startups 101 webinar and resources. Lisa Throckmorton and Jonathan Perelli discuss how important PR and messaging are in the startup world and provide some advice on getting started in the right way that will set your company up for future success.