We trust you’ve been practicing your PR mantra: “’Public relations’ and ‘marketing’ are two separate disciplines that employ professionals with different skill sets. The terms are not interchangeable but I understand tactics from each can be used together to positively promote or position a company.” Okay, great. In Part I, we gave you three instances where you may need a PR firm, and here in Part II, we’re giving you four more.
YOU WANT TO BE POSITIONED TO THE MEDIA AS AN SME
One of the roles of public relations is to get your company into the media whether it’s through a story pitch or offering one of your employees as an expert on a topic. This is where the PR professional’s relationship with the media comes in handy. Let’s revisit the flood example from Part I. Say there is a flood in your area and your company offers remediation services. You could be pitched to the media as an SME so that you can be interviewed about what residents and business owners should do in terms of cleaning, sanitizing, and salvaging their possessions. The interview benefits both the viewers who have been affected by the flood and it gets your company name out to the local, and potentially, national audience.
YOU NEED MEDIA TRAINING
Having a PR professional pitch you as a subject matter expert means that at some point you may be asked to speak to a media outlet. An opportunity to be interviewed by the media is exciting and the publicity payoff for your organization can be big. Putting the potential aside, it can also be daunting. Getting your message across clearly, staying on point, and fielding a reporter’s questions live can be challenging no matter how much you know about the topic. In addition to the interview itself, there can be technical challenges with remote television interviews and even with interviews by phone. When you’re being interviewed by a media outlet, you have very little time to make a good impression, and there are no do-overs. That’s why it’s important to work with a PR professional who can guide you through the process, practice with you, and help make the interview a success which can get you asked back again.
YOU'RE INTERESTED IN ISSUES MANAGEMENT
While many companies don’t necessarily take a public stand on an issue, many do and they want to make their opinion known for a variety of reasons. Putting a statement on your website saying your company, for example, is against GMO labeling for each of the 35 food items it produces because it costs too much isn’t the best way to go about it. The issue of GMO foods and subsequent labeling can be controversial, and you don’t want to alienate your customers. Hiring a PR professional to strategize, plan, and connect you to the right people is the best way to manage an issue that is important to your company. If you find out that in a few years, GMO labeling may become mandatory, then tactics like working with elected officials, writing op-eds, weighing in on industry conversations, and social media listening can get you involved in managing and potentially affecting that issue to your company’s benefit.
YOU NEED PUBLICITY IN DIFFERENT CITIES
If you have offices across the country, then you know how challenging simple communications can be. When you’re trying to get publicity for say a new product or service roll-out in each of your offices, that can be next-level difficult. The first thing you should do is hire a PR professional who can develop and execute a plan on a national level and also connect you with PR people in each of the cities where you have an office. These PR contacts in each city have relationships with the local media and they can prove to be invaluable in giving advice and getting you publicity within that area. They can also be great resources down the line when you have stories to pitch or new products or services to promote.
When looking for a PR firm, peruse their website and see what they specialize in. Also, ask for references who have hired the firm in the same capacity you’re looking to use them. Working with a firm can be a bit intimidating, especially if you haven’t worked with one before so make sure it’s a good personality fit as well. Firms can name drop national reporters they know and high-profile companies they’ve worked with, but verify that they know your industry and can develop a plan that fits your needs, budget, and comfort level.