When a company hires a PR firm, it is typically to get stories about them into the media. Therefore, it’s helpful if you understand what it takes to get stories into the press so that you can assist your PR agency to tell your story in the best possible light.
A skilled PR understands the different media, what they need, what stories they write and how to get through them as the gatekeepers to your target markets. The media want to see specific results, detailed information and real stories on how your company is helping solve problems, assisting others or changing the industry. What they do not want is FLUFF.
But sometimes people get fooled. They find an opportunity to pay a media company to air or print their story. Only it is a short-term approach and is not PR – it’s marketing. There is place for paid placements – but you have use it wisely.
Paid Editorials are Really Marketing
Paying for publicity is actually marketing. It is paying the media company to publish or air your story. It’s one-sided, biased and its intention is to SELL. That’s OK. As long as you understand that.
And as long as your public understand this as well – it’s totally kosher.
But when you hoodwink your target segments into thinking that a stunt is a real thing, you get into trouble. Think about the times you listened to a “news report” and then realized it was paid for and not real journalism. With every realization like that, there is a loss of goodwill.
Q: Why do companies want publicity and PR?
A: To make people more comfortable andinterested in doing business with them.
Q: What should PR contribute to the success of the company?
A: More clients, more customers and a better bottom line. Period.
In order to make your company, its services and products credible you need public opinion to endorse you. The media are not public opinion. They know that. But they represent public opinion. They know that too.
When your publicist or PR Professional garners publicity for you – she does it via first the media and then public opinion. She writes to the media and uses communications skills to sell the media to publicize a story about you. This is done by the art of persuasion – not money.
Journalists will only write or air stories they feel are credible. They rely on their readers, watchers or listeners to tell them want is credible.
Earned Media is Intended to Inform
PR agencies garner publicity and PR for their clients via newsworthy stories that are written by journalists who genuinely write unbiased stories companies, services or products that are intended to INFORM.
Paid placements are intended to SELL.
When you know the difference you can adroitly fit paid placements into your overall strategic communications plan. But you need to classify it as marketing and ensure that it will work in your industry.
Don’t make the mistake of using paid placements as a substitute for your publicity efforts. There is a formula for getting in the press. You have to build a foundation, then create story after story around your message that is exactly what your public want to read, see and hear. This is a longer term plan, but the income statistics don’t lie when this prescription is followed.
When you use paid placements, say so. Once your target market realizes that you paid for an editorial or a TV placement (and you weren’t the one to tell them), your credibility goes out the window.
And don’t neglect to make your PR firm work hard for you! (wink)
Here’s to your success,
Karla Jo Helms
JoTo PR, CEO