Don’t Forget About Me
Public Relations is Not an Afterthought
Working at a public relations agency, you get used to hustle and bustle especially when the media is on a deadline, and you are arranging interviews that almost always needed to have happened yesterday. Sometimes these things cannot be helped; it’s the nature of we do. However, there are many times when scrambling to get quality media coverage can be avoided. I have seen it many times—a client wants our PR agency to promote their event or initiative, and they waited to the last minute to let us know.
What many may not realize is that waiting until the last minute can make it almost impossible to get the media coverage you are after and can really limit what even the best PR pro can do. We often get requests to start public relations efforts the day before an anniversary celebration, company announcement or the day a fundraiser is starting as the client asks, “Can you get a TV reporter to come out and interview us about this great fundraiser we are holding for this charity?” And, while I agree that the initiative is great and the more people who know about it, the more donations there may be, PR people are not magicians. And believe me, that is what a PR person would need to be to get a news crew in a few hours. (Aside from extenuating circumstances of course, such as when tragedy strikes.)
When an event is happening, there are many items needed to make it successful; most of which are taken care of weeks or months in advance:
- Invitations are created and sent
- Banners and signage are designed, created and ordered
- Flyers and print materials are ordered
- Emails are designed and distributed
- Advertisements are created and purchased
While having all those items in advance is necessary, if you are also looking for media coverage to spread the word, starting PR tactics weeks if not months out is also necessary. Public relations’ efforts need to be included in the to-do list when the planning begins.
Part of the problem is failing to realize what goes into obtaining good media coverage—it is not one phone call to a news station the day before the event and a news crew shows up, an email to a newspaper and an article appears the next day or other PR magic. It often takes considerable time and effort. There are methods used for getting the attention of the media, and they start way before the event happens.
I suppose it can be said that when we do our jobs well, no one can see all the effort that goes into securing media coverage; however, in orchestrating these behind-the-scenes activities we may, accidently, lead people to believe that little preparation is involved. Nothing can be further from the truth. Most clients will tell you that there is nothing like having an article come out prior to the event or a news crew showing up and reporting about their announcement; it can provide excitement and bring much more attention. PR professionals want to make this happen for clients; it is what we love and work for. Just don’t forget about us when you are starting your plans, and we will almost certainly be more successful at getting you the media coverage you want.