I get really excited when out of the blue someone calls or emails and asks if I can submit a proposal to do some public relations for them. It means a couple of things for me – one that I am visible somewhere in the advertising and marketing that I do (PR’s are just as bad at doing their own promotions as builders are at building their own homes) and two, my advertising/marketing said something to them that made them think I could be their PR ‘one’.
Generally I’d like to think the second point was true but over the years I’ve had a few tyre kickers – people who contact me, encourage me to put in a proposal and then are never heard from again. I stalk them for a little while – follow up with emails and make a phone call or two but … crickets.
At least if you’re not going to engage my services tell me. Feedback is a wonderful thing – I want it, the good and bad so I can move on and be the success I hope to be.
What the tyre kickers don’t realise is that being a small company I am not as easily able to absorb the cost of taking time to do a proposal. I put heart and soul into creating a unique outline of the public relations strategy and tactics I believe would provide the best PR results.
Of course I want to do proposals and win work but if it’s my IP (intellectual property) you want to steal rather than awarding work – forget about coming to me. I need to earn money not give away my business.
If you genuinely are looking for PR assistance then please approach the agency that is right for you. If you’re not there are plenty of guides online to show you how to do PR for yourself just don’t go seeking PR if all you want to do is take someone else’s ideas and not pay for them, after all you wouldn’t want someone to do that to you, now would you?
I have a friend who recently asked me what I did but the conversation quickly got lost when she thought I was in advertising. Fair enough I thought, when you don’t work in public relations it can be hard to describe what I do.
Then I had that horrible moment of realisation where I thought maybe my clients, or future clients, don’t know what a public relations professional does. I then spent a long time trying to think of a positive answer that didn’t involve comparing PR to advertising, using the words “spin” and “doctor” and sounding like I spend all day talking.
To me public relations is about connecting people. When I first started in consulting the main way to connect clients with audiences was through the good old media release. Unfortunately that perception has stuck somewhat and I still have clients who just want a media release and that’s ok, but there is so much more that can be done.
Relying on the media to connect with clients, customers and consumers is never going to give the best results because not everyone reads a newspaper, listens to the radio or watches the TV news. To even get before a journalist can be a long slow process and by the time you do the story may no longer be relevant.
With so many other mediums out there, including company and organisation websites, there is so much more to working in public relations than writing and following up media releases – although these can and do have their place and I will happily work on them for clients.
But I want to see my clients embrace social media and use it to drive their audiences to their website where they can read their stories directly without having to wait for it to be published in next week’s newspaper.
So to my friend, I am a public relations consultant and I help companies and organisations get their messages out there using traditional and social media. Advertising? Um not sure …