Public Relations 101: Misconceptions About Publicity That Will Hurt Your Business
There is an old saying: “Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.” Indeed, publicity can be worth its weight in gold.
A 2014 study by Nielsen commissioned by inPowered on the role of content on the consumer’s decision-making process found that public relations is almost 90 percent more effective than advertising. That’s because with advertising, companies are telling readers that they are great. When public relations generates publicity, third parties are the ones saying so.
So publicity matters—a lot. Yet, many companies and their executives truly don’t understand what positive publicity can do for their businesses or how to best generate it. Misconceptions abound. That’s why I’ve addressed four of the biggest myths about publicity in this blog. I’ve also explained what companies can do to stop praying for positive publicity, and start getting it.
Myth #1: Your company can create publicity on its own.
Technically, this isn’t a myth. You certainly could try to generate positive publicity without help. But getting a regular stream of positive publicity in a variety of target media outlets is very hard for a company to accomplish on its own. Unless you have very skilled industry writers and well-connected, persuasive and proactive publicists on your staff working to generate publicity full time, you’re not likely to get very far.
Plus, in-house publicists have the huge disadvantage of having only one company to talk about. Every time they approach the press, reporters know that the publicist is looking for a way to get their company publicity. In contrast, when a reporter speaks to a publicist from a public relations agency, the conversation can feel more genuine and far more productive.
At a public relations agency, we are trained to recommend the right clients for a reporter’s unique needs of the day—we don’t always recommend the same client regardless of the reporter’s needs. That makes us far more valuable to reporters, and often gives us more credibility than a company’s internal publicist or communications executive.
In fact, to many journalists, we are a go-to source of contacts for their writing needs. For time-strapped reporters, calling a publicist with a variety of sources is far more effective than calling many companies in hopes of finding the right source for their story.
Can you generate publicity in-house? Maybe to a limited extent—but hiring a public relations agency will likely yield far superior results.
Myth #2: You’re too small to afford hiring a public relations agency.
Generating publicity doesn’t need to be expensive. We’ve helped many small companies (even one-person companies) get noticed and grow market share on a modest budget.
Still, I would focus more on ROI than on cost. Don’t go for the cheapest publicist as you may get disappointing results. After all, a $2,000 investment with minimal results is costly, whereas a $3,500 investment with big ROI is a great investment.
Publicity tends to pay for itself many times over. Our clients frequently tell us the publicity we generated has helped them land huge clients. We not only get your name mentioned in the news, we can also influence public perception on a matter of interest to your company—and that can be invaluable.
Every time your company is mentioned in a news story, your employees, your partners and your fans can share it by email and through social media, so it serves as a marketing and sales tool, too.
The question is not whether you can afford publicity; the question is why haven’t you invested in it yet?
Myth #3: Positive publicity comes naturally to companies that deserve it.
In my 20 years in marketing and public relations, I’ve rarely seen a company get ongoing, positive publicity without relying on well-connected, skilled publicists to promote them. And without a publicist, a company’s great products or services become the company’s own “best kept secret”—which is a sure path to failure.
The mortgage industry is an incredibly competitive space. Literally, thousands of companies are fighting tooth and nail to get attention—and they are hiring public relations agencies to do so. Those that don’t engage a public relations agency tend to stay out of the limelight.
Positive publicity doesn’t just magically happen. Before reporters write about your company, they need to get to know your company—and they need to be reminded of your company over and over and over again during the course of months and years. Reporters have too much going on to remember to write about your company unless you remind them to do so.
Myth #4: You need to pay media outlets to get your articles or blogs published.
Many people seem to think they need to pay to get their article or blog published in a media outlet, but that’s simply not true. Sure, a company can purchase an advertorial to get their article seen in a publication, but it will usually be labeled as an advertisement or “sponsored content.” On the other hand, media outlets frequently publish a well-written article or blog free of charge.
Experienced publicists can identify the best media outlets for your article and blog contributions. They also know how to write articles or blogs (or edit yours) to ensure optimal placement as well as optimal readership. Remember, just because you publish an article or blog doesn’t mean anyone will want to read it. Boring or uninformative pieces can lose readers after two sentences, so make sure you have a great writer and publicist on hand.
Publicity promotes success. It generates leads, helps close deals faster, drives traffic to your website and establishes you as an expert in your field. Publicity also attracts customers, not to mention great employees and investors.
To generate publicity, however, you need great publicists—and great publicists are very hard to find in our industry. Great publicists are storytellers with extensive skills, media connections, excellent reputations and the motivation to proactively get your message to the right people in a compelling way.
Fortunately, we have a team of great publicists at Strategic Vantage. So if you’d like to see what publicity can do for your company, just reach out to me at Info@StrategicVantage.com. I’d be happy to show you how you can leverage publicity to achieve your goals and drive your company’s success.
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