Public Relations is funny. It brings out the ego and the interest of just about everybody involved at a company. When I say what I try to do, I’m referring specifically to the interviews I secure on behalf of my clients. When a reporter, whether it’s for a newspaper, magazine, radio or TV shows up, suddenly everybody at the company is aware and interested. By interested, I guess I should really say they want to be interviewed and be on TV or in the newspaper.
One aspect that always amuses me is when the TV cameras show up how everybody is suddenly a PR pro. I guess I should take the fact that everybody thinks they can do what I do as a sign that I’m exceptionally good at what I do because I make it look easy. When a reporter shows up, inevitably people start to think they can talk to or provide the reporter with what they need. It’s as if they’ve assumed the PR role. In essence, what they’re saying is, “I’m not a PR pro, but I play one on TV.”
The only person I’m aware of that’s been able to successfully fake his way through performing a job he’s not qualified for is Frank Abagnale. Abagnale was the inspiration behind the movie Catch me if You Can. He was good, but eventually his fake efforts caught up to and cost him dearly.
Other than the rare exception like Abagnale, doing a job you’re not qualified for is incredibly difficult. You may be able to look good or perform some aspects fairly well initially, but in the long run, your inexperience and lack of expertise will catch up to you.
Here are five tips to help you leave the PR work to the experts.
- Provide your PR team with all the facts and data. With this information in hand, your PR team can target and pitch the specific media, reporters, editors and producers that will yield the best results. Your PR team should be used to working with the media and knows how to communicate with them and get them the info they need.
- Allow the PR team to do their job. As a client you should always ask questions, communicate, brainstorm, provide recommendations or suggestions and expect to be updated on status, but apart from that, allow the PR team to do what they do. Instruct your team to do the same. If they have ideas or connections to media encourage them to share those, but then allow the PR team to provide recommendations on how to leverage those ideas and connections.
- Set expectations. If an event or announcement is a big deal, tell your PR team as much. Don’t try to beat around the bush or tell your team something like, “Well, if you get coverage then great, but if not, no big deal” and then the day of the event or the announcement tell them that if they don’t get a certain amount of coverage then they’re going to be in trouble. Be honest and upfront. If it’s important to you tell the PR team and they can strategize and plan accordingly. If you know what you expect or want from a PR program, your PR team can put together a strategy to help you achieve those things. However, without an end in mind, even great PR programs and accomplishments will fail to measure up.
- Communicate with your PR team. Let your PR team know timetables for new products, trade shows, awards and other newsworthy activities. If you’re not sure if an event or activity is newsworthy talk to your PR team and they can tell you if it is or not. Likewise, if you have a preference on publications you’d like to talk to or to offer exclusives to, tell your PR team and they can arrange and set those types of things up properly to ensure that you get maximum coverage and leverage all appropriate opportunities.
- Let your PR team do what they do. You’re paying an agency to provide PR expertise so let them do what you’re paying them for. When others get involved last minute or try to step in without knowing the full strategy they can complicate things and ruin relationships. Once you’ve done the first four steps listed above, step back and trust your agency to do what they’re best at.
I’ve had experiences where clients have thought they can do what their PR team does only fail miserably. It’s best to leave these matters the PR pros. There is more to it than meets the eye
There is more to securing media coverage, let alone conducting a successful media interview, than meets the eye. The next time you think of jumping in to provide unsolicited help, think about how you would feel if a reporter showed up at your office and tried to tell you how to do your job. Don’t be the guy that’s not a real PR guy, but plays one on TV.
Jeremy Kartchner is a Partner at Snapp Conner PR and has more than 15 years experience in both technology and sports PR. In addition to his responsibilities with Snapp Conner PR, Kartchner also works with the Utah Jazz as a member of its Game Night public relations staff where he is responsible for tracking and providing game time statistics for local, national and international media and conducting pre and post game player and coach interviews. He’s a sports fan, golfer, father of three, husband to one hottie, partially bionic, cavity free, Olympics junkie and wanna be blogger.
Author: Jeremy Kartchner | Google+