I'm an 'armchair PR quarterback.' I have experience in the field, but currently reside in PR hibernation, focusing professional attention on writing and internal marketing. However, my former professional sentiments can't help but fuel my interest and inner passion. I regularly trace the PR operations of brands, shouting at the computer screen like an aged, high school quarterback who lends his voice to the television screen while assuming the Lazy-Boy position. "C'mon how could you make that PR play!"
Today I offer a few sentiments I would like to see better implemented into your public relations strategy.
Outsourcing is a choice for some and an absolute, immediate necessity for others. However, I suggest considering going with a boutique supplier of PR services. For one, there's a learning curve associated with your respective vertical. A PR person really needs to know the 'lay of the land' to ensure effective campaigns. Don't assume bigger brands, which address PR in several verticals, are going to assign you with a person well familiar with your vertical; it's highly unlikely this 'perfect match' will fall into place.
However, the learning curve drastically decreases when partnering with a boutique service provider, which specializes in your particular niche. An immediate advantage is the list of apropos contacts and relations the boutique may have already established. Let's face it; you're electing to outsource due to a lack of internal resources, you want the outsourced entity to act as an 'internal teammate' as much as possible. You don't have time to educate the person on your vertical; you expect momentum. Siding with a boutique service can expedite the process.
Products/Services Shouldn't Need Attention, Consumers' Needs Do
I take notice of brands after the production phase. It would likely be disappointing for some owners to hear my questions as to why some products/services made it past the production phase. In short, there are a lot of products/services out there of poor quality. PR won't help as SEO can't compensate for poor quality…
That being said, a PR professional should not have to do any work for the products/services. In short, products/services should 'sell' themselves; or, your company has many issues to address other than PR. I see a lot of PR efforts mirroring the error in logic of a lot of ad copy. Make the endeavor about the consumer and not about your services and products.
I'm sure some are confused; isn't PR about my business? Yes, but PR is public relations, meaning the process involves relating (your brand and associations) to…the public. The public part is important. I don't care what marketing processes are being leveraged; marketing is always about engaging the consumer. So, even if you're involved in a product launch, the approach necessitates people-centric engineering. It's not about how awesome the product is; it's about what an awesome job the product does in addressing a consumer need and desire. I hope you understand; because, this is a crucial insight to 'get.'
Service Person Neglect
As a copywriter, I sometimes felt neglected by clients. It was my job to create something based on little to no initial information. Many times, clients neglect to inform service providers, which is mind blowing. If I wanted another entity to do ANYTHING in my business' name, I would most definitely ensure my provider was on the 'same page.' That would a huge part of my responsibility regarding the partnership. Business owners, do you host the same concerns? I really hope you do.
Again the PR person is the translator, like a ghost-writer. It's absolutely essential the PR person is using your words and sentiments, truly understands your brand and direction, and sees eye to eye with the executives and brand represented. PR is very important; whose mind are you letting make maneuvers for your company? It's essential the public relations rep understands key execs and the essence of the brand. Otherwise, there's no way an outside entity can properly represent your brand to your public. If there's a lack of understanding, it's in the best interest of your brand to address it. Any gaps or misunderstandings can be avoided through proper lines of communications. Never neglect communications with an outsourced provider. Each passing, neglectful moment negatively affects your brand.
PR and Social Media
Public relations probably needs a new definition or at least new consideration within the backdrop of online marketing evolutions. Yesterday we had PR; today we have social media, which can achieve a lot of the initiatives PR always has. PR is not extinct; but, such processes should include social media usage. I'm sure many PR providers are presently not social media providers too, making things complicated for service seekers. In my opinion, the two worlds need integration.
If you're outsourcing PR but doing social media in-house, you need integration. If you're doing PR and social media in-house, the processes need integration. If you're doing PR in-house and outsourcing social media…well, you get it.
Formulate a strategy, leveraging the two processes, especially if different people are addressing them. Strategy enables more reach and efficiency on both fronts. You need the two marketing initiatives working together. For instance, your PR professional landed your company in a major publication. How are you going to perpetuate the exposure? Social media is a good choice. It's not about choosing some processes over others; online marketing is about using available tools strategically, ensuring all brand endeavors are working in harmony. It all warrants a bit of quarterbacking…zero quarterbacking begets frustrations. I don't want to be jeering your PR decisions from my computer screen; I want to be cheering them. The ball's in your hands.