If when you think of hiring a publicist you start thinking of Entourage, this post is for you. Many business owners (big and small) look at publicity as something to consider way down the road. Or a person who cleans up shop after a celebrity embarasses themselves. But the truth is, publicists can be brought in at any phase in your company’s lifecycle and be a benefit to you… if you know what you’re getting into and how to capitalize on the experience.
If you’re thinking about hiring a publicist, it’s important to understand:
- How you collaborate with a PR pro
- The timeline for PR
- What success looks like in PR
The ability to measure results and quantify an impactful campaign is much different than with traditional marketing (advertising, social media, site traffic, etc.) So before you get started, let’s make sure you know what you’re getting into.
Get it All Out In The Open
The first thing you need to be prepared for when you initiate a relationship with a PR agency is to be really open and honest. Publicists thrive on information. The more data they have about not just the operational aspects of your brand, but you as a business owner, the better they can shape their research and outreach.
Publicists need to understand, you, your products, and your audience as specifically as possible.
This will help them develop a plan for which methods and outlets to approach the maximum amount of success and exposure.
Share who you are, how your business came to be, and where you hope to go so your publicist is able to shape your story when presenting you to the media.
Know Your Boundaries, But Keep an Open Mind
There are a lot of different ways you could be featured should a PR pitch result in actual coverage.
You could be asked to produce a 2,000-word article in a matter of a couple days. You could be requested for a live news broadcast. You might be interviewed on a podcast with millions of listeners.
Tons of entrepreneurs are used to being the man/woman behind the machine. In publicity, you get a spotlight and it can get a little uncomfortable.
Remember, you wanted more exposure for your brand. Inevitably, that can leave you feeling a little exposed. Lean into it! Embrace it! Don’t let stage fright or playing small stop you from lunging at big opportunities that can sometimes come quickly in the PR world.
Please. As fast as an opportunity can arise (i.e. a producer calls your publicist and asks if you can go live on the morning show the next day) it can also take months for your PR team to get that opportunity. PR is a hurry up and wait and then go really fast sort of experience.
A great PR pro will do a lot of research. On you, your brand, and the outlets you’ll be reaching out to. That doesn’t happen overnight. There are agencies that offer cookie-cutter campaigns where they reach out to the same people every time for every client they have. Then there are the real professionals who cater each campaign to the specific needs of their client. <<<< This is the kind of publicist you want. But it doesn’t come without time and a lot of front-loaded work.
See an article you totally could have written or could expand on? Shoot an email over to your publicist.
Have a favorite YouTube channel who interviews CEOs just like you? Send that link!
You are a vital piece of this campaign. Share your ideas, send your content, flag outlets you would love to be included in. Unfortunately, PR isn’t something you can just hand over and wash your hands of. It’s a collaborative effort.
Timeline of Results
PR has a real snowball effect. It can take quite a while in the beginning to research and pitch and outreach. Multiple communications and extensive coordination goes on behind the scenes during those times when it feels like “nothing is happening.”
Those first couple of pieces of coverage tend to take a while, but once you’re out there, a lot of other dominos can fall. This editor might hear you on that talk show, this article may lead to a second and a third on some sister sites.
Like with so many things, firsts are always the hardest. It can take a month or two to get off the ground, but the latter part of your campaign can speed up quickly once you’re out there.
PR is Timeless
You can’t just contain your PR results to the bounds of your campaign. Someone can find you for weeks, months, and even years beyond the initial date of coverage. And that can not only lead to more coverage but more inquiries into your brand from audiences.
In the good ol’ days of print and TV media, PR had a really short shelf life and wouldn’t have been practical for smaller brands. With the digital age though, you aren’t held back by the magazine issue or segment you’re featured on. You have the entire lifetime of the internet for your digital coverage to be found. So while it may not feel like everything is pouring in at once, there is a permanence to PR that offers a long trickle of attention rather than the flash-bang of a paid social media campaign.
Success Beyond Numbers
First of all, you and your publicist should be able to talk about goals from the start. What an average campaign looks like for the PR pro you’ve hired, how fast things move and what the results tend to be.
Without any standards, you’re going to be left feeling pretty concerned about what is happening. So ask if that information isn’t being offered upfront.
As for the tangible numbers, that’s hard to quantify. A feature on a top podcast can net you a bunch of new Instagram followers. An above the fold feature on a major online media outlet can drive a ton of traffic. So in that sense, you may see numbers connected to it. But there will also be things like authority established that doesn’t exactly have analytics attached. Putting “As Seen On: Mari Claire” might not create an instant sale, but it can definitely help build in the mind of your customer the reason why they should consider buying your product over someone else’s.
And the amount of coverage you get can also influence someone’s desire to check you out. If they’ve seen their favorite influencer mention you, see your product in an Instagram Story and then find out you’ll be speaking at their favorite women’s conference, that accumulation of exposure is a direct signal to the audience base that you are someone to watch.
If you go in hoping to get X sales and Y new followers form PR, you are looking for marketing and advertising, not public relations. While those things can all collaborate wonderfully together, expecting PR to produce numeric leaps in your brand is the number misconception in the space.
Hiring a PR professional is a little scary. It’s not a gamble necessarily, but at times it can feel like one. There is a bit of luck involved, but experienced publicists know how to tilt the luck in their favor. As long as you can keep a level head about how much you’ll be involved in the process and what success looks like in PR (and how that differs from marketing) you can add impactful exposure to your business that can produce results for years to come.