Thinking about adding PR to the mix? Ask yourself first if you’re in it for the long haul.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners often come to me because they want
immediate consumer media coverage for their products or service. They are
particularly eager to know how their product can make it immediately on TODAY, or
in various ‘Top 10 Best Products’ lists. Garnering this type of coverage on its
own – without a rushed timeline – is challenging enough to accomplish, but
throw in some serious chomping at the bit, and it can be nearly
impossible to achieve on a short deadline.
To be clear, I’m not talking about breaking news that a company needs to
disseminate because it is in the immediate interest of public safety or health
(food recalls), or sudden events affecting a company (building fire or death of
a CEO) and its shareholders. That news will get immediate media pickup. I’m
referring to brands that, throughout the year, will have news and announcements
to relay to their constituents and prospects, while competing with competitors
for editorial space.
While I wish we PR folks could snap our fingers and get immediate TODAY
coverage or inclusion in a Top 10 list, that’s typically not how public
relations works. Yes, I have managed to get many clients on TODAY as well as on
coveted Top 10 lists, but it’s not something that happens quickly. Rather, it
takes planning, deliberation, good timing, and a commitment to the long haul.
It takes understanding the client’s overall objective of getting this
coverage (is it for awareness, to drive traffic somewhere, sales support, or education?)
and having an understanding of the product or services I’m promoting. It also
takes an awareness of the media outlet I’m pitching and the type of content they are looking for
as well as when they are looking for it.
For instance, if my Libman client has a new cleaning product that could be
considered as part of an April spring cleaning article in Real Simple or
Better Homes and Gardens, I know to get editors the info and samples well
before April to meet their deadlines. Some products have seasonality and
others are evergreen, so it’s important to pitch the former in plenty of time to
meet deadlines. Top 10 lists are often created around seasonality – for example,
you’ll see Top 10 Sunscreen lists come out in May/June, just in time for
summer. The same holds true for my client Guardian Technologies – their air
purifiers and humidifiers often make the Top 10 lists during allergy seasons and
cold and flu season, respectively.
As a conscientious PR pro, I’m more focused on building long-term
relationships with relevant media contacts on behalf of my client, so that
those media contacts become more and more receptive when I do come to them with
more news; additionally, the idea is that they will also come to us to see if
my client has any new products or services or would like to contribute their
point of view to an article – or a Top 10 round-up article.
Patience is our friend in PR. Just because I didn’t hear back from a
particular editor on the spot doesn’t mean they haven’t filed my news release
away to use for a later date, as part of a broader article with more
appropriate timing (this has happened many times). Media relations is like
sales in that building credibility and trust are key components of successful
Every bit of groundwork laid in PR and media relations is never in vain.
But if you’re looking for something quick, I suggest you buy an ad.