planting the seeds of public relations success

Guest Post by Howie Goldfarb

I’m back. Yes my “PR pro” series continues.

I had previously written a two piece series on hiring and working with a PR Pro from the brand side.

And I think the fact that this has become a series of posts v. just one post shows just how hard the process can be in finding the right fit for your business when it comes to public relations.

The saga continues

While the second PR pro my client and I worked with was better than the first, about two months in my client was feeling agitated again. So we had to talk about this and whether we should try yet a third PR pro.

The good news is I interviewed six of them initially. We actually liked three of them and the third was still willing to work with us.

What went wrong?

Not sure. While we don’t require the PR pro to be in every weekly team meeting, the new one started having prior commitments, and eventually had an intern sit in. We also had slow progress getting media coverage.

Now, if you read my last two posts, not being in PR myself often has me wondering how hard it is to get coverage. Obviously there are a myriad of factors that help, or possibly hinder, how fast they score some wins for you.

But in the end my client wasn’t feeling good about the choice and that is what matters.

So we brought on someone who we also liked during our initial interviews. When we first had a teleconference, she came across as confident and having a solid strategy. She has voluntarily attended our weekly team teleconferences and she actively participates. She also communicates well on opportunities, questions for information, and she is always throwing ideas my way for feedback.

In the eight weeks since then,

we have had success with a few media outlets, and also interest generated by several more. She has generated more activity than the two previous PRs combined over six months.

We also receive a monthly activity report showing all the media outlets she has contacted. She has been proactive about upcoming events and promotions we are contemplating so as to plan her pitches.

Hindsight, as they say, is 20-20. So here goes.

1. If you are a brand or a business and you feel you need someone in PR to help you out, setting some structure and goals is a good first step.

A way to ensure things go smoothly is to see how engaged they are on your behalf, not just with the media but with you and your business. If they are excited when they are working with you, media outlets will feel that.

And don’t be afraid to seek proof of effort (who are they pitching? for example) if you don’t have any hard placements yet. A truly confident PR pro will not be afraid to show what they are working on and where they are in the process.

On the flip side

2. If you are a PR pro and sense any distance with your client, you need to talk with them. Show them what you are doing for them. If this goes on, your account could be in jeopardy.

Often clients don’t know about a lot of activities you undertake on their behalf, all the emails, phone calls, pitch writing, etc.

If success is taking time be open and explain what the obstacles are and work on solutions.

For example,

“Dear Client,

It is June. There are not as many opportunities for a Snowboard Brand until late September, but here is how I am laying the ground work for some early season coverage.”


Your PR pro

3. Lastly, don’t over-commit your time up front and then not be able to follow through.

Offer some solution that ensures a solid flow of communication. The last thing you ever want anyone thinking is, “I don’t know what they are doing, but I think they are doing something… and that is ‘PR,’ which I am told is a whole other world.”

Image: John Drake Flickr, CC 2.0

Howie GoldfarbHowie Goldfarb is Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Strategy at Web Choice Consulting, a full service integrated marketing and Internet agency. He had a 14-year career in direct B2B industrial sales before deciding to lighten up his dreary work life and move into advertising/marketing. He has a CFO’s view of marketing, bringing a dose of reality to the confusing world of jargon, spin, and hype. He currently lives in the Green Mountains of Vermont and is still seeking his first moose sighting.