PR – A Great Thing, but Not a Miracle Worker

14 Dec

PR – A Great Thing, but Not a Miracle Worker

By , Published December 13, 2012


It’s a funny thing about PR…sometimes it’s viewed like other professions that  people have a love/hate relationship with – like law enforcement, insurance  providers, lawyers. Or like those that people expect magic from – beauticians,  plastic surgeons, teachers.

Here’s the thing. Anything can be branded, marketed, promoted. Anything can  get a first look. But public relations won’t make or break your business without  a little help from you.

Stop making your PR department/firm/executive the scapegoat for your crappy  products.

It’s not our job to convince people that your products are good when they  aren’t. We don’t “dumb people down.” PR isn’t to blame if you can’t sell. PR  isn’t to blame if your product doesn’t do what you promised – or told us to  promise. Even Apple can’t pull that off.

I’m not being over sensitive. I’ve been in this business long enough – heading into my 15th year of owning my own firm – to recognize the unbelievable  expectations that executives can have about PR. And I’ve seen many executives  that don’t get PR at all – who have no idea that their CMOs are throwing money  out the door jumping from agency to agency trying to find the right match.

I also know that PR agencies can seem like a dime a dozen. There’s one on  every block like Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. I know that it can be tough to find  the right match – chemistry with the team – on your first try. But if you or  your marketing head have gone through more than two agencies in 12 months, maybe  it’s time to take a look inside.

Here’s a few things you can expect a good PR team to accomplish:

  • Get your products in front of the “right people” – those can vary, but for  most companies it means reporters, bloggers, analysts and others who influence  the buying decisions of your prospects.
  • Connect executives with these folks for personal  meetings/briefings/interviews – beginning and helping to maintain a more  personal relationship.
  • Get these influencers to listen – based on long standing relationships  and/or the talent to understand what they want, how they want to be connected  with, what they care about, etc.
  • Give you inside views on where to be (events, online and off) to connect  with the right folks who can help you – whether it’s media, VCs, analysts,  customer/prospects, partners – a good PR team can help with all of those, making  sure your valuable time isn’t wasted, and that you’re not missing anything  crucial.
  • Help you write, message, brand and promote what you want to say in a more  eloquent manner.
  • Help “roll out the red carpet” for sales by spreading awareness of you, your  company, your products consistently, and in the right places. Ideally, PR sets  the stage so that when a sales executive walks into a deal, the prospect says, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of you – I see you guys everywhere.” That’s always a nice  start.

Here’s you should not expect PR to do:

  • Get people to keep using your product if it’s not working right.
  • Cover up bad customer service – certainly we can try to help fix a crisis,  but this shouldn’t be the ongoing plan.
  • Work in a black hole – share information with your PR team and trust them to  help you come up with the best, most strategic plan on what information should  be communicated, to who, how, where and when.
  • Make reporters personally like you.
  • Tell reporters what to write. We can give them facts, we can encourage  certain angles. But they’re not puppets and we’re not puppet masters.
  • Be responsible for repeat buyers. That’s your job – through great customer  service, good products, stellar relationship management. We’re matchmakers of  sorts – we get people interested but it’s up to you to maintain the  relationship.

Of course, good PR executives can help with more than these things – it’s  just a quick list. We can help you maintain relationships to a certain degree.  But we’re not miracle workers. If your product or service isn’t working right or  your customer service team isn’t treating customers well, don’t blame PR.  Understand – and manage – the difference between positioning communications and  information, vs product development, customer service and executive management.  Too often, PR is blamed when all three don’t come together well.

What do you expect from PR?


1 Comment

Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Uncategorized


One response to “PR – A Great Thing, but Not a Miracle Worker

  1. harajukugirl12

    December 19, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    As interesting as the interviews for the final research project were, I realized that PR cannot solve all issues that arise within a group. For example, the NHL lockout many people believe is ridiculous and can be solved easily and with just a little extra “umph” on the teams’ parts. But it’s not just the teams. It is the players and the owners and everyone that you could possibly think of. It is not going to be easy to solve, but good PR is keeping teams like the Buffalo Sabres names out there and in their communities. You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do to thrive in this world, and sometimes its different than what you think.


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