Public relations is like owning stock—it’s a long-term investment.
Despite what some clients expect, big media hits that come a week into a PR campaign are few and far between. A steady drip of media hits is more realistic and better in the long-run.
I know from being a journalist, and now as a PR practitioner, that pitching a story rarely gets immediate results, but keeping a client front and center typically pays off over time.
Sure, every client wants to be featured on “Ellen” or the “Today” show, but the ones that expect it are those with whom you need to proceed with caution or need to educate about public relations.
The world of public relations is changing as the lines between marketing and PR continue to blur, but there remain some guidelines about pitching and managing client expectations.
Here are a few:
• Big traditional media outlets are more difficult to get hits in, no matter how strong the news angle. Airtime, media space, and the number of journalists are shrinking, and so is the public’s attention span.
• Hits in traditional print media are becoming a rarity. As an alternative, focus on online or community news organizations and bloggers, or take the pitch straight to the consumer via social media.
• Local television is still a good option, but try to time the pitch right. For instance, avoid a conflict with NFL game day.
• Nothing replaces good stories and strong news hooks. These items are still the gold standard, and while it is harder to gain media interest, having this foundation will make it that much easier.
• Substance outweighs style. This means a pitch must be backed up with facts and not just a great lead and sound bites.
• Think outside of the traditional pitch. For instance, use a video news release or create an infographic to tell the story.
The biggest misconception that a client can have about PR is that it’s merely about getting media coverage. That’s just one part of an overall strategy that covers reputation management, communication strategy, and branding. That’s a long-term investment, not the equivalent of public relations day-trading.
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Gil Rudawsky is a former reporter and editor. He heads up the crisis communication/issues management practice at GroundFloor Media in Denver. Read his blog or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.