Ask any PR professional and they will all tell you that there are no guarantees in PR. And, yet, it seems there are some that do offer such guarantees.
I had an interesting conversation with a very large local family company. A conversation that I thought was out-dated in this age of social networking where everyone understood what PR meant and stood for. I was wrong.
One of the client’s partners has been insisting that there should be a press release on their ‘exclusive’ partnership – a story that is more than 5 years’ old. It took all my skills as a PR person to decline the ‘opportunity’ without jeopardising the very important partnership between this company and my client. The bottomline was ‘what does PR mean’ and how do I guarantee that my story will make the papers.
So here are some basics of why a story won’t get picked up before you grill your agency for lack of coverage or story.
What is the crux of the story you are trying to get to the media? It may be important to you but its not necessarily important to the journalist. Anyone worth his salt will understand that. An ex-boss always asked me to question everything. It was his ‘so what’ theory. Will your story stand up to the ‘so what’ theory?
Why should the editor take notice? As a fellow practitioner pointed out the other day, put your story in the paper and compare it to the story that is there and tell yourself why it is more interesting than the one that’s there. Okay – so that theory does not apply to ALL the media in the Middle East but it does for the most important ones. It also depends on the timing of the story. Sometimes its just unfortunate that a ‘good story’ won’t see the light of day because something bigger got the editor’s attention.
How good is your spokesperson? Companies sometimes assume that just because someone is the Managing Director or owner of the company, he knows everything there is to know. He doesn’t. Sometimes he doesn’t even communicate well. It takes skill and practice to be able to get your point across well and not bore the journalist. It takes knowledge and understanding to give the journalist information that he/she can use for their publication. It does not happen often, but it does happen that at the end of the interview there could be no story.
Listen to your PR agency. Its a partnership and if they say that something is not a good story – they may have a point. A PR agency is there to enhance and build your reputation and that includes guiding you on what you shouldn’t do. But at the end of the day – if you want guarantees, you’re better off buying advertising space.