Steven Le Vine
of the biggest misconceptions many people seem to have of public relations
is that it is a guaranteed source of revenue. However, this is not the
case. In fact, it is more valuable than that. A well-executed PR campaign
is actually an investment for the long-term prosperity and success of a
business, brand or individual. The only thing that one needs to have is
A few years ago, a client
recommended our firm to two friends who were about to introduce a
semi-autobiographical, off-Broadway show to theatergoers in New York. The
show would be opening in three months, with an indefinite run at the
theatre, depending on its success.
Following a successful
meeting, our clear understanding was that they understood that publicity
would only be used to build awareness of the show, but would be used in
conjunction with other methods of exposure, such as advertising and
Soon after, we hit the
ground running and quickly acquired them a substantial amount of national
press exposure, including everything from cover stories in magazines to
blurbs to feature articles. But as the premiere of the show drew closer,
the client's expectations started to shift. What first started out as
wanting any press, overnight changed to the expectation that we would need
to score the show exposure in only
top-tier media outlets. And to add, they had terminated their arrangement
with their marketing and advertising firm with efforts ceasing before they
began. And then the show opened, and the reviews were not kind.
We immediately went to
Plan B. We made the recommendation to the client that we should start
steering the focus away from reviews back to more feature-oriented press.
But they didn't agree. And shortly thereafter, the seats got emptier and
emptier, and within only a couple of weeks, the show was playing to an
That is when we learned
that they were clearly no longer on the same page. In fact, they had
poured all of their finances, including their own home, into this show.
And they were expecting us to fill the seats only with PR efforts. All of
the pressure was immediately put solely on the PR firm, with the
expectation that we would be in charge of driving ticket sales. And when
that didn't happen, the blame was irresponsibly pointed at us.
Shortly thereafter, we
decided to terminate the relationship with them. But in this, we also
learned a valuable lesson -- one that we are faced with every so often --
that all clients come bearing different expectations of publicity
Some expect PR to do
exactly what it is intended to do, which is to generate awareness; some
expect it to change a misguided perception of their product or service;
some think it will immediately generate sales; and some think it will
cause them to become an overnight celebrity.
There are five things you
must bear in mind when planning a PR campaign:
First: Even though press coverage
produced by Public Relations efforts does generally end up indirectly
yielding sales, PR is not meant as a means to do so. Instead, it is
primarily intended to only raise awareness of a brand or individual, and
to generate industry credibility. Consistency is the key.
Second: Do not rely solely on a
Public Relations campaign to make your brand succeed. While very
valuable, it is not a miracle drug. As with any business, there must be
many different factors at work. For example, if you do not have a proper
distribution strategy, consumers will have a harder time locating your
products, so any press coverage produced will not work to its maximum
potential. Also, if you do not
implement a full marketing approach, including marketing and advertising
efforts, you will limit the impact created by your Public Relations
Third: Although it is difficult,
albeit almost impossible to monetize Public Relations efforts, one of
the most widely used methods of determining whether or not you have made
your investment back is in measuring the cost of your PR efforts by the
amount of ad equivalency value you have received. For example, if score you a cover
story in a magazine -- and the cost to purchase an advertisement of the
same size in that publication normally costs $10,000 -- you may have already
recouped your investment.
Fourth: Once you commence a Public
Relations campaign, do not consistently change your
expectations or goal. If you start the campaign with the
expectation that you would only like local or regionalized press
coverage, don't up the bar on your publicity team every time that
coverage isn't yielding the results you were originally hoping for.
Doing so not only tells the public-at-large that you do
not understand your own message, but it also creates a stop/start
momentum that can be detrimental to your PR campaign.
Fifth: Even though you might
believe you have the best product on the market, not everyone will
agree. Your product or service may be the best thing since sliced bread
for one media outlet, and not to another. If you are expecting to get on
Oprah or Ellen, but do not have the story to back it up, you may want to
scale back your expectations.
Remember, if you start
your PR campaign with an open mind and persevere with clear-cut goals and
expectations, you may almost always come out a winner.
Vine is the founder of
full-service lifestyle and entertainment PR firm, based in Los Angeles.
He can be contacted directly at Steven.firstname.lastname@example.org
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