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  • Writer's pictureCascade Communications

Don't Fall for The PR Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. Find a Good Publicist.

Thanks to the world of the Internet almost anyone can paint the picture of whom they would like to be, but really aren't. A flashy website full of catchy key phrases coupled with impressive experience.

Sadly, we continue to hear stories about "PR pros" who have taken advantage of businesses, in a variety of ways, but mostly making a lot of promises they knew they couldn't fulfill just to get the client to sign a tight, inflexible contract that would, results or no, assure thousands in their bank accounts.

Worse, are those who say they do PR but take advantage of a business owner's lack of knowledge by selling them into their custom program. They are imposters, and I consistently find myself in the position of having to prove the value of PR and restore their faith in its "real" benefits.

Take this for instance. Example of an actual phone conversation:

Imposter image

Company: “I’ve been working with a PR person but looking for more.”

Cascade: “Great! What have they been doing for you?”

Company: “She runs my Twitter.”

Cascade: “Is that all she is doing?”

Company: “Yes, and I am not getting the media attention I want.”

Cascade: “Hmmmm. Okay. Well Twitter, while a great tool to connect with media outlets, is not the key tactic of generating media interest and stories for you business.”

Company: "Really? I wish I'd known that before hiring her"

Other similar conversation responses have included:

“They manage our SEO.”

“She does Help a Reporter Out.”

“They send out a newsletter and comment on blogs”

“They write blog content”

At no time do I hear that these people have actually written a compelling news story and distributed it to media or utilize it in their digital communications. I get it. PR can be confusing but you can learn more in this article.

The bottom line is, if your publicist is not generating media stories, or creating proactive tactics to engage influencers with your audience, drive them to your website, and out there hustling for you, it’s not PR.

When the PR industry was first pioneered, it was created as a way to communicate proactively with media rather than always being in crisis mode when the media got hold of a story. Over time it has become a powerful marketing tool, creating awareness and connecting audiences with brands through credible third-party endorsements (i.e. the media).

Thanks to social media and other tools, today PR is truly about relating to your publics (audiences) and engaging with them indirectly (media, influencers) and directly. While traditional, proactive media pitching is still considered, by a majority of professionals, to be the foundation of a campaign, companies now implement other tactics around the campaign using social media to further the campaign reach. Connecting with consumers/customers, encouraging word-of-mouth and building off media stories achieved makes PR truly integrated.

The real key to success is defining your compelling story and how to translate it across platforms, knowing and understanding your audience, how to find them, knowing how all of these elements work separately, creating a strategy and developing messaging and content that will invoke an emotional response from customers to click the “buy” button or pick up the phone.

Where the traditional PR approach has more power is when an abundance of positive media stories on your business drives traffic to your site, create links back to your site that can increase your SEO automatically, and builds instant credibility with customers on social media.

All of these work together to create, not just media interest and web traffic, but REAL results!

Here's how to find a good publicist:

  1. They ideally have a background in journalism - PR is a journalistic profession and it makes sense because our job is to introduce journalists to great stories. Someone with a background in journalism, or even the natural talent, can create a strong story for real results. This is even more important than having strong media relationships. As journalists, reporters and producers come and go, a strong, compelling story will break through with a new contact.

  2. Willing to share case studies and success stories - A good publicist will highlight their successful campaigns and creativity on their website to give an idea of their capabilities.

  3. Understands storytelling across different platforms - Today, PR is part of searchable content that can also be amplified on different channels to enhance search. Because people don't always see a story on the same channel means we pros have to be able to tell it in different ways beyond just traditional PR.

  4. Proactive pitching vs passive pitching - A good publicist knows that proactive pitching yields the best results where passive pitching is done by PR pros who only rely on inbound service leads for products and experts. These opportunities are far and few between where proactive media pitching is more meaningful.

  5. Give guidance and set expectations - Our job is to help clients understand the opportunities and what stories are strong and which are not. Moreover, we set realistic expectations for clients.

  6. Will go above and beyond to be successful - A good publicist will always go above and beyond to get a win. Sometimes this means working outside of budget and scope to ensure success for our clients.

If you believe you can't afford a publicist, there are a lot of cautionary tales that will tell you that you can't afford to not hire a good publicist.

And for those who want to kick start PR on your own, there are options to learn how to DIY PR thoughtfully.

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