PR, it’s not rocket science is it? (Neither is rocket science, really. F=ma, what more do you need?)
So why is there so much misconception about it and even a widespread lack of understanding what it is?
Probably, because of how some people in the industry conduct themselves, along with the exaggerated claims that (some) practitioners are happy to put out there to win business (inevitably ending in disappointment).
But before we trash the whole industry, let’s make it clear that there are a vast number of hard-working PR people across the country doing their best for their clients and representing our profession in a good way.
For most businesses, especially in the B2B sector, a vast chunk of PR is still focused around media relations; basically getting your client featured in specialist trade publications and their associated websites, email bulletins and social media platforms, and, sometimes in mainstream newspapers, as well as on news websites and broadcast media (TV and radio).
There is no trick to this, no magic, no unspoken code giving only feted PR agencies privileged access to journalists. A story will stand or fall on its merits. It also helps if it’s well written and well presented and the editor or journalist can get what it’s about in a second and it excites them enough to want to use it.
That is where the craft comes in, especially if the initial story idea isn’t very compelling. How do you present a pretty run-of-the-mill story in an interesting and engaging way? Because that is what the journalist is looking for. Will this story grab my readers, inform them or entertain them, so that they come back to my publication, switch on my channel or revisit my website in future?
The answer has to be ‘yes’ or you’re done. And you won’t con an editor, they don’t respond well to click bait or misleading headlines that draw them in, only for the ‘story’ to leave them empty (or even annoyed for wasting their time).
Our role is to take what you, the client, wants to promote, understand why it offers something better or different to the customer and create a way of presenting that so that it resonates with both the journalist and their audience. We write stories well, they are interesting and informative and credible and we give editors and journalists good reasons to include them in their publications or broadcast them on their stations.
And we have to do it time, after time, after time until the message(s) get through. Because, for most businesses, their products or services are rarely lifechanging to the degree that everyone drops what they’re doing and rings up to buy what they’re selling. Sometimes, their products are not even as good as their competitors, but with the right marketing and PR approach you can present them so that they are perceived as better or better value or come with better service or support or are readily available and convenient.
For most businesses, PR is not about quick wins, it is about a consistent, ongoing campaign to build a brand profile and desire for your products and services that convinces prospective customers to give you a go. They have to get to know you, believe what you are telling them and, eventually, they will bite. We do it all the time and it works. It might not be rocket science, but it gets you to where you need to be.