One of the most common misconceptions about public relations is that PR companies just write and distribute press releases. Safe to say, if it was that easy to generate publicity for clients without advising them, we wouldn’t be in business and no one would talk about them. Sure there are newswire services that you can pay to distribute content, however, badly written, republished press releases have zero influence, little readership and lack credibility. In fact, if you look more closely, the majority of the time those releases don’t even land directly on news sites.
As someone who works on both sides of the PR-journalism coin, there are many factors to be taken into consideration for companies of all sizes once they start working with a PR agency. The first, quite possibly the most important, are objectives. Ask yourself, why you want to do PR in the first place? Is it to generate awareness, credibility, educate markets or reposition yourself and your brand? Once you have your motives mapped out, the fun begins and the art of storytelling as part of your PR campaign comes into play. And believe me, whether you like it or not, everyone has a story.
Storytelling is key to any PR campaign
PR is never just generated. Public relations is earned media, therefore you need to be giving journalists something to write about. You might be working on a product that you believe is going to change the world. The only issue you face is that no one outside your company actually cares enough to write about it. So how do you get noticed? Think back to the building bricks that meticulously helped form your company. Consider your situation at the time and how you got from A to Z. What challenges did you face along the way? All journalists love a good human interest story – why not allow your agency to share it with them?
Let your PR agency tell your story for you
Everyone holds different interpretations as to what’s interesting and what’s not. Quite often founders are so passionate about their company or product that they feel their story could stop clocks on Times Square. Sure, your journey may be interesting to people in your inner circle but outside of that it needs to be one hell of a story to get journalists to write about you over competitors. How do you give the media your best version of you that contains key messages and oozes interest and zest? You talk to your PR agency about your experience, your failures and your triumphs. From those nail biting will we get funding moments to meeting Jeff Bezos, every part of the journey counts.
Storytelling is a key differentiator in PR vs. Marketing
Although PR is similar to marketing it’s important to note that it is a separate entity. Most marketers confuse PR with marketing processes and, as a result, content is rewritten, the end result being a battered car brochure that nobody reads. Marketers need to trust that PR agencies understand journalists’ requirements and, therefore non-media familiar bodies rewriting a release and transforming it into something entirely different does no one any favours. You have to work with and trust your PR agency. Afterall, isn’t that what you hired them for?
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Strategic Director for ClearStory International, Freelance Broadcaster & Journalist of 18 years
An established media and communications specialist and marketing graduate of UCD Smurfit Business School, Rebecca manages editorial both general and strategic at ClearStory International. Rebecca provides expert direction for client campaigns across the globe as well as managing PR for major tech conferences including Unbound, Techsauce Global Summit and others. Rebecca has written for many leading newspapers in Ireland and the UK such as The Irish Independent, The Sun, The Sunday World, The Mail on Sunday, The Sunday Business Post and The Irish Daily Star.