January 27, 2011
Let’s talk about great expectations. So you’re thinking about PR? I’m sure your head is swirling with thoughts of your brand in the spotlight – magazine features, broadcast segments, celebrity product placement and more, right? Not so fast! While all of the above can and may happen, let’s get your expectations in check. You must remember four words: PR is not magic. Sorry, I wish it was because then I’d have an easy job. The reality of PR is this:
PR is a result of countless hours put into writing releases, developing pitches, pitching contacts, maintaining relationships and above all – patience.
Unlike advertising, PR is not cut and dry. It’s a grey zone involving all effort and no certainties. Now before I scare you off let me assure you a good publicist WILL get your brand exposure – given that you have a good product or service, of course. But going into a PR relationship expecting to see your brand on The Today Show tomorrow will only set you up for disappointment. Here are a few things to remember when it comes to your expectations:
Time is on Your Side
PR takes time. Even the most seasoned publicist with twenty years and a contact list that every PR intern would die to get her hands on can’t wave a wand and make your product splash the pages of Vogue next month … or the month after. Why? The rule of thumb in PR reads “6 months to see an effective result.” And it really does take that long.
The Perfect Editorial Fit
Publicists get your information to the right people and hope those people will a) love your brand and b) have an editorial opportunity for it. This said, just because “a” happens doesn’t mean “b” will happen right away. There has to be an editorial fit in order to run your brand in any given media outlet.
For example, I currently work with a shapewear brand that editors absolutely love. However, they can’t just slap it into their next issue if there’s no call for a shapewear related story. For some magazines this may be next month, for others it may mean 6 months. Whatever the case, I ensure that when a shapewear story comes up, I get the call.
A Relationship Factor
In addition to an editorial fit, it takes time to develop relationships with media so they can put two and two together that “x” agency reps “x” brand. If you hop around from agency to agency every 3 months impatiently vying for results, guess what? Your results will be minimal because editors are never going to figure out who handles your account.
Logistics, including knowing your press contact, most certainly comes into play when an editor has a matter of hours to pull in samples for a last-minute story. If they’re spending too much time figuring out how to get to you, they have no problem dropping you out of the running and moving on to the next brand. Moral of the story? Stay put, be patient and the results will come.
Speaking of results – they’re different for every brand. Just because you signed with an agency who got their last skin care brand a half page feature in Allure doesn’t mean this is going to happen to you. Results vary from brand to brand and publicists in no way can guarantee or predict where yours will end up. It depends on the product or service being pitched, editorial timing, and of course the contact.
It’s a Crapshoot
In other words, PR is an uncertain venture. Case in point:
I recently received a request from an on-air contributor to The Early Show that needed lingerie for an upcoming broadcast segment. We immediately sent looks from two brands. The day before air date, one of the two brands was dropped. Why you may wonder? In this case, it could have been because the segment was shortened, they didn’t book enough models, or possibly there were too many looks in that same color garment. Meanwhile, the same brand that was put on the broadcast segment chopping block had previously landed 3 magazine hits in 1 month while the other brand only received one.
But it’s totally Worth It
Frustrating? You bet. Worth it once your brand does make the cut? Without a doubt! You see, PR is an amazing tool and when done correctly, it can generate results to take your brand to the next level. Just remember, keep those expectations realistic and be prepared to invest in a little virtue called patience.
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