They say any press is good press. Well, when it comes to public relations for your company, you should be in control of your media image. One way to do so is to hire a media relations firm to handle all your press needs.
"A public relations expert is critical for any company to engage, educate, entice and deliver a cogent message to the public and stakeholders about the brand/product. The publicist will set the tone/vision (short to long term) and create a campaign with authenticity to grow/build a company from conception to birth," says PR expert Karen Taylor Bass, founder and president of TaylorMade Media, L.L.C.
Adds Makeda Smith, owner of Jazzmyne Public Relations, "Companies that retain the services of a publicist have the added advantage of branding themselves via the media with editorial exposure. The publicity provided can be a welcomed addition to whatever advertising, marketing and promotional effort being conducted. A publicist can also come in handy in instances where the company may need to put their best ‘face’ forward in times of a crisis."
Good PR can even result in increased revenue. "A PR person, if used strategically, is one of the most valuable assets a company can have; this person enhances the bottom line in countless ways. The main job of a PR practitioner is to enhance the image and visibility of a company, which leads to increased revenue. A PR person is able to help a company navigate through all of the new mediums for communications including social media and can project the image of the company to the general public in a positive way," adds Rachel Noerdlinger, president, Noerdlinger Media.
Make sure you are clear on the role of a publicist. A publicist’s job is to create media image, not marketing. "A company should always utilize a PR person. For a new company, a PR person can help to shape its image to the general public and help begin to brand the company. A company that is larger will have many reasons to have a PR rep...damage control, strategic planning, media visibility, etc.," explains Noerdlinger. "A PR person plans and implements public relations programs designed to create and maintain favorable public image for the organization," says media coach and consultant Lillian Smith, president of LS Production Works. "A PR person also handles press release distribution, immediate information to the media and the world of a company announcement. They also book executives for media press conferences and consulting executive on the importance of the company message. And of course, PR people also help maintain a positive company public image."
When looking at creating a press department for your company, you have a choice of hiring an in-house person or an independent firm to handle your PR needs. There are advantages to both.
"For a company to choose an in-house or independent publicist, strictly, depends on the company’s defined purpose of what information they want clients, potential customers and/or organizations to know about what they have to offer and how frequently," says Lillian Smith. "An in-house publicist knows the company brand rules and has instant access to consult and represent management executives 100%. They are also available for immediate access in a media crisis situation. They should also be a direct team player because they are one with the team. They can give direct results whereas an independent PR person would have to take time to understand the company’s brand and would have to select priority client business. The level of error can easily occur with an independent PR person due to non-immediate access to the company."
But hiring an independent publicist also has its plusses. "An independent PR person is effective depending on the company business such as if it is a small entrepreneur business and their budget does not allow a full-time in-house PR specialist. An independent PR person can be detached from company politics and able to deliver representation that does not interfere with decisions they choose when representing a company," says Lillian Smith.
Adds Taylor Bass; "It really depends on the size and needs of the company which will dictate if a staff/independent or both is needed. Most small businesses hire a PR consultant to set the tone of the message and handle media placements; whereas, larger companies might need a staff person and indie if there is a volume of work to field requests, engage media (daily), launch a series of products/events/junkets and attempt to control/handle/spin/divert a crisis situation." According to Noerdlinger, sometimes a company may need both. "Larger companies sometimes utilize both. A smaller company might outsource to a PR firm for budgetary reasons but it's entirely based upon the needs of the company," she says.
When interviewing potential PR people, look for experience, of course, but also that they have established a relationship with the media. "A PR rep should have diverse experience and be familiar with all of the new platforms in media. It's not just about TV, Radio and newspapers anymore. The world is a vast communications network. A PR person should have solid relationships with the media and be able to project the company brand in a positive way. A PR person must be able to conduct PR with rapid response and be able to think outside the box," says Noerdlinger. Google the person or PR company, suggests Makeda Smith. Then you can see what campaigns they worked on and how effectively they saturated the media.
In the long-term, using a publicist can help your company grow. "An effective pr campaign can yield results that are far more effective than spending advertising dollars. The public perception of a well-placed feature story impacts a reader far more than a typical ad. And dollar for dollar is usually less expensive," says Makeda Smith.