Why PR can be the most challenging–yet thrilling–form of communications
Although I started in radio broadcasting WAY back in 1995, most of what I was doing at the time was promoting my show without a budget.
I joined the local Press Club to network with print journalists who could potentially write about my show and the important topics I was covering (global societal issues affecting students worldwide).
In turn, I would connect them with sources and guests from my shows. I didn’t know PR was an actual “thing” then; to me, what I was doing simply made sense, so I kept doing it and kept seeing fantastic results.
I later enrolled in the Master of Arts in Strategic Public Relations program at the University of Southern California. My coursework taught me how to build and evaluate strategic PR campaigns, how to look for unique story angles and why you should never, ever send out a press release “just because.”
I also learned that to be an effective public relations practitioner, I needed to have a seat at the table and perhaps most importantly, how to get there by demonstrating my value.
I used to turn up my nose at the thought of paying for placement; where was the fun in that?
PR consists of making such a compelling pitch that journalists write about your organization, product or service, providing third-party validation.
I’ve scored some great PR hits in my career by developing relationships with reporters and serving as a resource to them versus just another publicist pushing her own agenda.
Ads can be a great way to get your message across…if you have the budget and a strategy.
Advertising, on the other hand, involves paying to place your message in a magazine or newspaper or on television, radio or websites.
You (or a firm) develops your creative, you pay for the ad space and bam, your message is delivered to your intended audience.
This can be extremely efficient…but also expensive.
Unfortunately, organizations with small budgets often can’t afford to spend money on advertising.
PR takes more work to get an influencer convinced that they should write or talk about what you are pitching, but the adrenaline rush you get from seeing someone else validate your story is incredible.
Plus, you didn’t spend anything to do so!
PR takes time
The problem with today’s 24/7 news cycle (including social media) is that many communicators send out dull press releases about anything and everything, diminishing the value of effective PR.
I urge you to take an extra hour to:
- be creative with your pitches
- target them to the appropriate news outlets and reporters
- don’t send out the exact same press release to every media contact you have.
Casting a wider net does not automatically lead to more coverage.
Be creative. Be unique. Be a resource to the media.
Public relations is an art meant to inform, educate or persuade a target audience. Remember that before you click “send.”