PR is tricky. We are sales people, but we do not sell product, we sell stories and words. In today’s media environment, there is a limited demand for words. Newspapers are getting smaller, magazines thinner, TV news shorter and filled with hard hitting news and less fluff. Not to mention there are more businesses than ever with new startups entering the market every day online, so the fight for that limited word space is tougher than ever. Now add to that more and more PR firms popping up every day, with access to Cision and other databases, reaching out to the same producer at The Today Show, the same editor at Vogue and the same photo desk at the local news outlet.
That means that as a PR rep, you have more of an opportunity to shine…and more of an opportunity to fail. While we all want to craft the perfect pitch, we have to all admit – sometimes you have a client whose product, service or event just doesn’t connect with the media like you thought it would. Sometimes you can pull a comprehensive media list, write a phenomenal pitch, press release or media alert, have b-roll and high res images up the wazoo, media train your spokespeople to perfection, and execute a supreme campaign – and no one really cares.
It is disappointing to the client and disappointing to the PR rep, leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth over the situation. However, the one thing we have learned over the last 16 years of PR (3 years with Mugsy, but we have been doing this a long time) is that certain things can not be guaranteed in public relations.
In every new client meeting we stress the following statements. And as much as we hate to have to say this to clients, it has become a mantra of ours to make sure they understand. Of course, we still have a disappointed client from time to time, but overall, we find that setting realistic expectations is key to a happy relationship.
What We Can and CANNOT Guarantee:
As PR professionals we have contacts in the media. We guarantee we will contact them. We guarantee we will tell them about you, your brand and your story. We guarantee we will share with them photos, video and news. We guarantee to research the media contacts relevant to you. We guarantee we will learn their outlet, their niche, their interests and how to best pitch a story to them. We do not and CANNOT in any way, shape or form, guarantee that they will cover your story. We guarantee that even upon confirmation that an outlet says they will cover your story, that nothing in PR is actually guaranteed until it prints or plays. We guarantee that we will work every angle of your story, but we do not guarantee that the media will have the space or staff to cover it. We guarantee that if your story IS covered, it is still not a guarantee that it will translate to sales. However, we would not work with you if we did not believe in what you are selling, and we will represent you with as much passion as we would if we were selling our own story – and THAT we guarantee.