“We tried PR and it didn’t work.”
“We do social media now instead of media relations. It’s easier to publish everything ourselves.”
“So, what is PR exactly?”
I’ve heard variations of the above numerous times since making the switch from journalism to PR seven years ago.
There is confusion around what PR does and how, not least because the scope of the discipline is so broad. Even as a journalist, I’m not sure I fully understood the remit of PR.
So, we decided to explore the truth behind some of the myths we hear most often.
MYTH 1: MEDIA RELATIONS DOESN’T WORK ANYMORE – IT’S TOO DIFFICULT
Media relations is probably the most difficult aspect of PR. Convincing a journalist that your story is good enough to run on its merit is a tough task. Journalists no longer have the time or space to fill elaborate supplements with sales messages. News is their currency.
To succeed, you need strong relationships with the media outlets that matter most to you. Get to know their likes and dislikes. Most importantly, supply them with content that meets the standards that would be expected of a journalist.
While there are some potential quick wins, building momentum takes time, patience and perseverance. But if your strategy just isn’t working, be brave enough to hold your hands up and start again.
Media relations allows you to speak to your audience through a news source they trust. Placing an ad or publishing a blog cannot deliver that kind of credibility. It may be difficult but that’s no reason to give up.
MYTH 2: PR’S ONLY FUNCTION IS TO HELP ME SELL
A strong PR strategy will help you to sell, but only if its remit expands beyond sales. PR’s role is to influence, and to enhance and protect reputation. PR touches every aspect of a business. It works best when the most senior board members are involved.
Over the past few months, brands have been unwittingly thrust into the spotlight like never before, firstly due to Covid-19 and more recently following the outcry around the death of George Floyd. Reputation has never been more important. Communication is to be handled sensitively. Brands need to convey their values but only those which are genuine and demonstrable. Saying nothing can be as damaging as saying something ill-advised.
PR will help you to find and tell your story across all marketing channels. It’s not just a campaign add-on. It’s where your campaign should start and end.
MYTH 3: I CAN DO THE PR MYSELF. HOW HARD CAN IT BE?
There’s a reason why we asked a gas engineer to service our boiler and why I’ve resisted the lockdown temptation to cut my own hair. In the early days of Liberty PR, a friend and business owner advised me to stick to what we’re good at and to seek help from the experts where it’s needed.
This is certainly sound advice when it comes to PR. When the reputation of your business is at stake, why would you cut corners? What’s needed is an objective view – someone who can create powerful communications strategies and anticipate how they will be received by different audiences.
Even with the more tactical, day-to-day aspects of PR, media relations requires writing skills, the ability to sell the story to the media and strong contacts. Social media posts need to generate engagement or they will never be seen by most people, even your own followers. Your blog should be professional, your events well run, your awards entries well crafted.
Don’t gamble with your reputation by trying to muddle through alone. Whether through an in-house function, an agency or freelancer, there will be a cost-effective solution available which will help to protect your brand.
PR has many functions, but protecting reputation sits at its heart. Its importance is often underestimated by those who have never fully embraced PR, or who have had a bad experience of doing so.
If you need help to identify where to start with your PR strategy, we’re happy to help with a free, no-obligation consultation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.