Why Public Relations Doesn't Just Happen

Creston & Associates, Ltd.

Public relations is a very important part of the marketing mix. It provides a company with something no other marketing vehicle can provide -- the third-party endorsement of your product or service. A number of people think that once a company starts advertising, the media beats a path to your door. In some rare cases that actually does happen, but it's not the norm.

Many clients simply don't understand the PR process. For example, when I was working on Cabbage Patch Apparel, the client had signed the advertising contract, but not the public relations contract because he just didn't understand the entire subject. He asked for a meeting and shortly into the meeting, this charming, grandfatherly gentleman looked at me with a straight face and said, "Why do I have to pay for this, doesn't it just happen?"

At first, I thought he was kidding, but then I could see as he sat behind his desk surrounded by his "family" of Cabbage Patch Kids, he simply didn't understand the process, or the discipline. After a rather lengthy discussion, he signed the contract and the rest was history.

Some clients don't have the budget for trade advertising, consumer advertising, sales promotion, corporate ID design, web site development and PR. Many will start with two of these elements and work their way up to taking advantage of the rest.

When you are ready to consider an agency, what should you look for in a PR team? To begin, just like any other professional relationship, the chemistry has to be there. You should also look for experience and the connections. Don't be afraid to ask for references. Once you have them, pick up the phone and make some calls.

If there is one account person that you feel really has the expertise you need, insist that this individual be the point person on your account. The agency should be willing to agree to this request in writing in the contract. Beware of bait and switch, where you are courted by the new business people who will never be seen again after the contract is signed,

What You Can Expect

Some points to remember:

PR is truly a wonderful vehicle, but you must understand the basics to understand how it can work for your company.

Diane T. Creston
Creston & Associates, Ltd.

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