By Kia Jarmon and Morgan Lyn
PR is essential to the creation and growth of your brand, yet there are still some non-believers and naysayers that don’t understand how that is possible. Well, we’re here to set the story straight — here are the top 5 misconceptions about public relations, debunked, reframed and explained.
1. PR is more than a press release
PR does not stand for press release. A good PR agency can write a great press release and drum up some publicity for your event, but a great PR agency is thinking beyond publicity and thinking about your comprehensive brand. They won’t just tell your story in a press release but instead create a comprehensive plan that will tell your story in all experiences of your brand. In this age of social and digital media, don’t let the media determine when or where to tell your story.
2. Building your brand
A brand is not just your product or service. A brand is the sum of all experiences someone has with your product or service. These experiences include: someone visiting your website, interacting with your social media presence, seeing your logo, or reading an online article or review about your business. You can have several different people do all of these things ad hoc, but what will most likely happen if you do this is that you will have several different stories that lack cohesion and consistency. If you want it done right and done well, you will hire a PR agency to oversee the building of your brand so that all message points work together to help drive your customers to buy.
3. PR is not free, cheap, or inexpensive.
I am always amazed at how PR is defined in some circles as free advertisement when in fact advertisement is advertisement and PR is not! A couple of myth busting facts:
1) A PR plan can be costly for your company if you hire the wrong agency or fail to include PR at all. You have to consider your needs, the hours, and over what course of time you will need a firm or consultant (we recommend at least 6 months to a year). But know that the return on the investment on PR will always outweigh the initial investment.
2) Every PR task, even ‘free’ sites like Facebook has a fee associated with it. Whether you hire us or a full time staff member, there is a dollar amount to their time, expertise and ability to speak on behalf of your organization.
3) There are no short cuts. Hiring the wrong PR person for your company because they are discounted, free, or cheap can be another costly expense for your company. Take your time to hire the correct person to save time and money.
4. Every PR firm is not the same.
Believe it or not every PR agency, consultant, or freelancer is not the same. That doesn’t mean that they do not all offer amazing service with, great results but their client approach, business culture, and strategies should fit your needs. Take some time to ‘date’ the firm you are considering to see if they understand your business. Also, ensure that you like and appreciate working with them. Bottom line: understand that no two PR firms are alike! Just like snowflakes.
5. Bigger is not always better!
Looking to hire a PR firm? Consider what your organization needs and how the firm best fits you, rather than focusing on their company or roster size. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with a larger firm or a firm in a larger city, it is important to consider alternatives like a boutique agency, consultant, or freelancer.
What do you get with a smaller agency?
More individualized attention: you have 1-2 main contacts and the approval process does not take an act of Congress and your account exec is more likely to have the answers to your questions.
It is also a cost effective alternative. Many times smaller agencies are not looking to overcharge for a long distance phone call, extreme admin fees, or the unpredictability of your monthly invoice.
If you are looking at a large agency, think about receiving a bid from a boutique agency also; or, if you enjoy working with both types enter into a joint agreement where the boutique/freelancer collaborates with the large agency as a subcontractor.
All in all, your brand will not thrive without effective and intentional PR. It's what connects your service or product to the community, and what maps out the growth of your brand for years to come. Make sure PR is an integral part of your business plan!
Kia Jarmon is creator of brand depth + facilitator of ideas + curator of conversation + sculptor of stories at boutique PR and brand strategy firm MEPR Agency. She also loves connecting businesses & people to their heartbeat and coaches them through a Brand Mapping program, where they navigate their brand compass. Kia is a 27-year lifetime member of Girl Scouts and daily she lives by the promise "on my honor I will try…to help people at all times". You can find more at www.MEPRagency.com or www.KiaJarmon.com.
Morgan Lyn is a passionate public relations & marketing go giver – a term coined to align passion with vocation – determined to create superior experiences and engagement for clients. She is well versed in integrative marketing plans, with an emphasis on crafting, strategizing and delivering messages that amplify brand awareness and drive ROI. Morgan is always excited for challenging projects that leverage both her experience and education, and allow her to learn something new.