As a former marketing director for a company, I’ve hired my share of PR firms. I’ve had some that were really good and got us results, and I’ve had more that were merely, “meh.” My overall impression was that PR sometimes worked, but there was a good chance that it wouldn’t.
However, my view of PR firms has drastically changed since I joined Resolute PR. My role is still heavily focused on the marketing side of things. But as part of a three-woman team, we take a lot of time to learn about each other’s roles so we can best complement and utilize our skill sets for our clients.
The first thing I noticed was Nicole and Ally are always buzzing around, making calls, attending meetings, writing stories, planning and brainstorming. Total A team. I quickly gained a lot more respect for what PR can actually do, and I realized that I had misunderstood what PR actually meant. They were nothing like the stereotype of what I had pictured from years past.
Myth #1: PR people wing it
Nicole Morgan, CEO and founder of Resolute PR, explained that all PR students learn four guiding principles that make up the PR Process.
A good PR firm will adhere to these guiding principles. The problem is that most PR firms skip one or more steps in the process. Why?
For one, research is very timely and at times can be costly. PR firms skip the research because they’re ready to show their newly earned client they are ready and willing to go on their project.
“That’s not to say you can’t start showing results quickly, but without at least some high level research, it’s tough to get into the world of the client,” Nicole said. “As a PR firm, we have a responsibility to understand the trends and hot button issues that affect their industries and businesses. How else can we advise them on where they should go next?”
The second most commonly skipped step is planning.
“If you’re not a planner, this can be an intimidating step. But the truth is, it’s critical to have that road map if you’re going to execute a strong PR campaign,” Nicole said. “The plan can – and should – be a living, breathing document. Things will happen that you can’t predict, and it’s our job to help our clients take advantage of them while still working toward their ultimate goals.”
Which brings me to my next myth.
Myth #2: It’s all about the sale.
In marketing, often times, our end goal is to make a sale. While we can get creative on how we achieve that, having the overarching goal of the client in mind creates a more cohesive marketing strategy.
The same could be said for event planning. Nicole and Ally told me one of the first things they ask a client when planning an event is, “What’s the goal?” I was surprised to learn “attendance” is not always the answer. It could be awareness, fundraising or education, just to name a few.
Myth #3: Event planning means you’re making sure the caterer shows up.
This one made them laugh.
As Ally Lightle, Account Executive at Resolute, explained, there are a lot of moving parts to making an event successful.
“Our work begins well before the event itself,” Ally said. “We may begin a social media campaign and collecting emails of interested donors or participants. We then help choose the right theme and develop the invitations and decor to bring the theme to light. Meanwhile, I begin right away to research story ideas and start calling reporters.”
When event day rolls around, Resolute has all the coordination and logistics taken care of. “There are times we’ve created event decorations ourselves to help with cost. Many times we have gone to the vendors ahead of event day to physically inspect what we have ordered and ensure what we’re getting is good quality,” Ally said.
Nicole added, “On the day of the event, we do everything from setting out decorations to making sure the linens on the tables aren’t crooked and greeting people at the check-in table. It’s the little things that most clients won’t notice, but they’re important to us.”
Myth #4: PR people just send out press releases
To be 100 percent honest, my preconceived notion of PR people was they just contacted journalists all day. Obviously, I’ve learned that’s a small part of a PR person’s job.
Press releases are quickly becoming outdated PR practice and not as effective as they once were thanks to the rise in digital. Knowing how best to reach potential journalists and where they hang out online can be more beneficial to both the journalists and the client.
Myth #5: You have a say in when and how the story runs
Earned media is an “uncontrolled medium.” You don’t get to review it ahead of time, and when Nicole introduced me to this term, it painted a clear picture. Resolute will be the first to tell you that there is no guarantee for media coverage. However, there are factors that can help increase your chances. The first is to know who you’re pitching and what they typically write about. Tailoring a pitch to make it both easy and relevant for a journalist to digest. Secondly, getting to know the local media can go a long way.
Fortunately, for Resolute, Ally Lightle has been in the news industry herself working at a local Fox News affiliate. Nicole Morgan has been in PR for over 10 years and has made it a priority to get to know the various members of the local media.
Myth #6: They’re going to do whatever you tell them
A good PR firm won’t agree with everything you tell them. They’ll speak up when that press conference is unnecessary or question you on why you’re changing strategy. And Nicole says the same goes for Resolute’s ideas.
“Never be afraid to tell a PR firm when they have a bad idea. Having open dialogue between client and PR firm is an essential part of the process. It’s why we like to be in touch with our clients as much as possible.”
So what did you learn about PR after working with Resolute? Let us know! And if you’re looking for PR or marketing services, we hope to hear from you.