There goes an old saying, “You get what you pay for.”
When your business has a conservative marketing budget, it might be tempting to hire a so-called public relations professional who costs less than the others. Before you hire that person or agency, it’s important to ask, “How much professional experience does s/he have?” Some people have extensive PR backgrounds and were professionally trained, while others have simply given themselves the moniker “PR professional” with little knowledge or training
Several years ago, a group of mommy bloggers started their own “PR agency.” While they are savvy women, they are not tried and true PR professionals. This distinction is important because there are a lot of misconceptions about what people who work in public relations do. Therefore, there are also a lot of misconceptions about the kind of knowledge and experience a person needs to execute a professional public relations campaign.
I once had a prospective client ask me, “Why should I hire you just to send emails around when I can do that myself?”
Another prospective client once asked me, “Couldn’t I just do my own social media? I know how to post to Facebook.”
Though many business owners think they can do their own PR – or worse, ask a friend or relative for ad hoc “public relations” tips – there is one major benefit to hiring a professional public relations agency… aprofessional PR pro can help you do things right the first time and often prevent a crisis from exploding.
In one recent instance by the mommy blogger PR agency I mentioned, a major brand hired them to run a campaign. It came to light that the agency workers were emailing friends and offering them free product and major brand discounts in exchange for “positive” coverage about a new program the brand had launched.
When the readers of the blogs that had accepted the ‘compensation’ found out about it, they rallied against the company and there was a large social media outburst against the brand, creating an ultimately negative situation for all involved, including the agency’s client!
What this “PR agency” should have done was run an honest blogger campaign, hiring bloggers to write about the campaign however they like (nor requiring “positive” coverage) and asking bloggers to properly disclose that they were compensated for their efforts. These are lessons they should have known and which shouldn’t have been learned on a client’s dime.
As a business owner, it’s okay if you don’t know best practices for distinguishing between paid online advertorial and earned online editorial, but your public relations representative absolutely must. When you are working with a person who knows “how to get the word out” but does not know the intricacies of the public relations, advertising and publishing industries, it can be detrimental to your business and create a PR nightmare.
Thoughts on new and traditional media, current events, life in Chicago and the occasional small Chihuahua photo.