We believe these facts to be true about public relations:
Fact One: Everyone knows about Public Relations but few do it the way it needs to be done.
Objectives for Public Relations appear, in some form, in nearly every annual business plan. They are like New Year’s resolutions: almost everyone will admit that they should be achieved, but by the end of 12 months almost everyone will admit that they often have been pushed aside by other priorities.
The reasons why are understandable. They fall into general categories:
- Not enough time on the part of internal staff
- Not enough interest on the part of internal staff
- Not enough specific P.R. expertise on the part of internal staff
- Outside agencies currently being used are not P.R. specialists
- Outside agencies currently being used are focused on other types of communications activities
- Outside agencies currently being used are not living up to expectations
Our guess is that one or more of these reasons now inhibit Public Relations from becoming a truly effective element of communications at your company. Think what is lost by this gap in the flow of information. P.R. is the closest an organization can ever come to “free” communications. By way of example:
- J4 Communications has, on numerous occasions, written and placed feature type stories or case studies highlighting the activities and successes of clients. The appearance of such items in the media often equal the value of thousands of dollars in advertising space costs were an equivalent amount of space to be purchased as a display ad. J4 public relations fees are only a fraction of typical ad insert fees. What’s more, the client gains the significant credibility that comes from editorial placement. A reader always realizes that an ad is the reflection of an organization telling its own story in the best possible light. The same reader will tend to view a feature story as the objective conclusions of an professional publication…even when the basics of the item are generated by us.
- On several recent occasions, press announcements placed by us have netted our clients more reader inquiries than an ad for the same client running in the same issue. That is not intended to denigrate display advertising. It is meant to suggest that every form of communication has its place and time. It is also meant to show how P.R. can be a tremendously important aspect of a good, all-around communications program. Often, the “little” pieces of P.R. seem insignificant compared to the grandeur of a full ad campaign or literature development effort. Individually, P.R. actions are minor in magnitude, but taken collectively, they become the binding that truly makes everything work together. Without them, the beautiful centerpieces of a communications program frequently remain disconnected, expensive, and disappointing.
Fact Two: Fast-food thinking works fine for fast-food but not for effective Public Relations.
A healthy, long-term P.R. effort is not achieved by a frenzy of outbound mail, but by a calculated, comprehensive program that anticipates tomorrow’s needs by always considering new options for communicating today’s important news and desired images. It’s not all that difficult to get “free ink,” “free air-time,” or speaking engagements. The value comes from knowing exactly what needs to be communicated, when, to whom, and how. None of that is possible without a consistent, energized P.R. program that “thinks” before it leaps.
Fact Three: Public Relations shouldn’t just happen when it’s convenient… P.R. is an all-the-time commitment.
The fact of the matter is: a successful Public Relations program does not consist of a few random news releases here…an irregular newsletter there… a feature story in a publication every year or so…or a last minute decision to throw together a booth for a trade or consumer show.
A P.R. effort must be ongoing and continuously requires vigilance and attention to woo the media, to learn the eccentricities of editors, to learn and use the details of various editorial calendars and devise ways to coax reporters into calling for quotables. A solid P.R. program takes several years to establish and it cannot be done haphazardly. The objectives of the program must be dovetailed with communications strategy in general.
Fact Four: The path of least resistance is usually headed in the wrong direction.
In Public Relations, nothing should be done automatically, but rather, as it relates to an objective or action item. Consider the poor, tired news release. When given information to communicate an evaluation must first be made as to the most effective way of doing so. Is a conventional news release the most effective way? It is certainly easy. It takes very little time. Many would choose this as a quick way of addressing, then forgetting about a situation. But perhaps a captioned photo release would work better. Perhaps the message is best conducted through a formalized pitch letter and phone follow-up. Nothing should be taken for granted or pigeon-holed into formula formats. For every message there are many options for achieving wide and effective broadcast.
Fact Five: An idea shouldn’t be worked until it drops, but it should be given a thorough work-out.
A message shouldn’t be perceived as “communicated” until it has been directed in as many avenues as possible. For example: the message that found a primary format through a news release, editorial feature, open house, press conference or media alert, might have a second life as a reprint, direct mailing piece, application case study report, or as part of a newsletter or video. Ideas have an almost organic nature and, when implemented with honesty, flexibility and expediency can frequently become self-replicating P.R. successes.