Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why some PR efforts are like a person trying to killing a swarm of angry hornets with a can of Raid

One of the problems with working in public relations is that a lot of people think they can do your job.   To those outside the industry, PR seems easy and not hard for someone with a gift of gab or a compelling story.   And, while it's easy for anyone to call a local media professional, there is more to this than a call to a local reporter.

After driving through Florida and speaking to my uncle, the former pest expert, I kind of likened what I do to what my favorite relative on my mother's side did for a living.   Like those who think they can call a local media to get a story placed, I believe companies who try to do the self help model are like the folks trying to rid their house of cockroaches with a can of Raid instead of getting professional extermination help.  Buying a can of bug spray may kill a few, but it doesn't finish the job.

Here's why the self help appoach provides limited results.  A professional public relations counselor has been through interviews and knows the kind of questions a reporter may ask.  By helping prepare their client for even a simple question such as financial earnings, they can help them proactively respond to what may have been an annoying question.

Secondly, a public relations professional knows how to tailor a story for the right medium.  20 years ago, the media approach was easier with only TV, radio and print.  Now, with the addition of social media, a good PR person should know how to reach those kind of communication outlets.

And, finally, here's why a PR professional is like a professional exterminator.  When a business has a public relations emergency, a smart communications expert knows how to use the media to help mitigate any possible reputation damage.

So, businesses have a choice.  They can go the "can of Raid" approach to their public relations program, or they can work with a professional who understands the nuances of working with the various medias.

1 comment:

Karen Pierce Gonzalez said...

Thanks for this post. I often meet people who tell me they can do the PR themselves...then they put the folded three page press release into an addressed envelope and wait by the telephone.
I think the challenge is that the relationships that pr specialists build and maintain are "hard to quantify". Hard that is, until the pr specialist gets a lead story for the client...
thanks again,
Karen