I’ll be the first to tell you, you don’t need PR.
…Well at least not yet. I can’t fathom how many individuals and organizations I have turned away over the years who thought they were ready for public relations, especially small non-profit organizations. Many think they are one PR campaign away from getting funded.
Although public relations can play a major role in obtaining larger investments, more customers, supporters, donors, and media attention– it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready to go “all the way” just yet. There is a right time and wrong time to invest in public relations; before you do make sure you’ve accomplished and/or ready to do the following:
1. You understand what public relations is in today’s digital age:
Many PR agencies will pitch themselves to you as a media relations company; they refer to themselves as a PR company, but all they’ll do is pitch stories on your behalf. Most people who hire these types of agencies, after six months, feel like it is a huge waste of their time and money. Your name in print may be great for your ego…but it doesn’t make the cash register ring. Ensure that whomever you work with is creating strategy that will integrate larger communications and marketing into your PR plan, not just media exposure.
2. You know who you are (as a company) and what your mission and business goals are:
It’s hard for a publicist to convey to the world your story, if you don’t know your story yourself! Establish a business plan, clear goals, benchmarks, and know where public relations compliment these things to enhance and achieve your vision.
3. You’re giving it time:
Rome was not built in a day, and neither will your business/organization’s influence. Far to often potential clients decide in the twelfth hour of an event lead up or a major campaign that now is a good time for PR. Do not…I repeat…DO NOT set yourself up for failure and disappointment. Like all impactful happenings, things take time to cultivate, so don’t sell yourself short. Invest in public relations at least six months out from any event or campaign. The bigger the project, the more time you should give yourself to grow the exposure and impact you are looking for.
4. You can keep it real with yourself and others:
Not only do you need time, you need practical expectations to compliment your timeline. Any “good” publicist will tell you it can be done…but a great publicist will tell you it can be done, just not in the time frame you’re expecting. It’s important to create realistic expectations especially when you’re aware of your target markets and the challenges associated with those markets. Let’s set your goals up for success shall we?
5. You’re invested:
Do you have a budget line for public relations? It’s time to get one! Most PR projects are completed on retainers– consistent, blocks of time you as the client pay for. Depending on your projects and goals, be prepared to budget for at least six months to ensure a consistency within your campaign.