You can’t make a record if you ain’t got nothing to say.
–“Shotgun Willie” by Willie Nelson
I might get some grief for this angle from my more biz-dev oriented public relations industry peers, but hiring a PR consultant is a big commitment, and we all have an interest in a positive outcome. After all, it’s not a great look for PR to have people out in the market telling anyone who will listen about how they spent thousands of dollars to engage an agency and it didn’t work for them.
Following, then, are a collection of reasons why PR might not be such a good idea for your organization, at least not at this particular juncture:
1. You don’t have something to say. Willie was right about needing to have something to say. The media don’t cover people or companies simply for existing. They need to have a strong point of view—whether it’s on the market, the industry or maybe regulatory changes that are going to impact it. In the best case, a client has a strong point of view and is keen to create—or work with us to create—compelling content that lays it out clearly and provocatively. Nothing is better for getting a reporter or editor’s attention.
2. You wanted to be Jim Cramer or Maria Bartiromo when you grew up. To be sure, we get our share of glamorous broadcast hits for many clients, but they only come around so often, mostly for active equity managers (occasionally a producer will throw a bone to a bond or alts manager). The basic blocking and tackling of financial services PR is all about print media—oftentimes arcane trade journals. That can be a let-down if you were expecting a standing invitation to appear on CNBC. You need to appreciate the significant value of earned media in your market and be excited to share your quote in Asset Servicing Times or your appearance on that industry podcast with your clients and business associates.
3. You’re camera/media shy. We have had clients whose designated spokesperson always seemed to be taking a pass on the great opportunities we presented. Maddening! Eventually, it became clear that they were, in fact, terrified of going on camera or speaking to a reporter who might ask an impertinent question. With media training we can help prepare you with judo moves to pivot the toughest questions to your preferred talking points. But you need to be generally bought in to the idea of dropping everything and jumping on relevant media opportunities when they come up—after all, they’re a big part of what you’re paying us for.
You’re ready for PR if you’re:
4. You don’t have someone who can run point on the relationship. A PR firm can take some of the load off your marketing team’s plate, but a good one will also pile more on to it—regular coordination meetings, scheduling, content or news release copy that needs to be approved by senior management (and often compliance). PR’s a collaborative effort and, to get the most out of it, you’ll want to appoint a senior person with decision-making authority to quickly take advantage of tactical opportunities, provide strategic direction and generally push initiatives along internally.
5. You’re not prepared to apply maximum leverage. A great press outcome is really just the beginning. You need to have the infrastructure in place to leverage it. That means amplifying on social media and through email marketing, tracking resulting traffic and having the infrastructure in place to qualify leads and take advantage of the inbound. We can help optimize most of that through our digital services (see post), but you will want to have much of it in place before we launch a proper media outreach campaign and introduce you to, say, the Wall Street Journal. This is even more the case with start-ups and product launches. You only get to launch once and it’s a good idea to use PR to create buzz, but don’t engage a PR firm until you are highly confident not just that you have the infrastructure in place to serve any resulting new business, but more importantly that the launch is actually going to happen more or less on schedule. There’s nothing worse than getting a lot of press for a product that’s not yet ready for prime time.
If you made it this far without saying “yep, that’s us,” then maybe you are, in fact, ready for PR.
Lowe Group offers a range of services related to public relations, send us a note for more information.
When deciding if it’s the right time to hire a PR firm, consider Willie Nelson’s famous lyrics: You can’t make a record if you ain’t got nothing to say.