Over the last few decades I have had the opportunity to be a part of scores of product launches, company announcements, promotional campaigns, PR initiatives and the like. With each effort I try to evaluate what went right and what could have gone better. Fortunately I’ve been involved in many more programs that have gone right than not. Some campaigns have been funded very well while others were simply done on a shoe string. Some focused on extremely timely products and some on products in over-crowded segments.
The companies have been of all types: from new and unproven to dot coms, brick and mortar, old school, new school, local, global, huge, tiny, private and public and even large enterprises with a bevy of customers and offices around the globe.
You Make the Difference
Yet in each case I can pinpoint the single most important element that contributed to the success of the PR program: a can-do client. Regardless of the obstacles and regardless of whether we were graced with a stellar product or simply a better product — in the end, it was the human element that made a decisive difference.
A client who values PR so much that they are willing to give of themselves to make it happen. Finding that customer who will talk to media; searching high and low for a photo buried somewhere on the server, rising before the sun to do a phone interview, taking the criticisms of a junior reporter with sincerity, withholding laughter and/or anger when receiving questions from a reporter about the viability of their company.
Commitment to a Cause
Think of PR as a driver to galvanize your company with the opportunities of the market by getting your message out in ways that gain recognition and credibility. PR is a catalyst. But for a catalyst to work, it needs to create change between two entities – your company and the market. The most important ingredient in your PR program is you.
PR – It’s Not for the Weak
PR is hard work for everyone and if your PR firm does a good job – then you’ll be very busy. You may say, “Hey-I hired a firm to make my life easier and get my fair share of editorial coverage!” Well as most things in life, it just isn’t that easy and good things are worth the effort. Your PR firm will be cultivating more opportunities which means more of your time to do interviews, speaking or even penning your own article. Then there will be the strategy sessions that dig into how to package your story and what makes your product better, you’ll discuss competitors and how you fit, what you’re known for and what you want to be known for. You’ll touch on applications, new technologies and issues: What issues can we speak to? Interested in product reviews? Then there are processes to put in place and competitive benchmarking to conduct, reviewers guides to write, a tech staff to coach on media relations and more.
Now you may ask, “Why bother with PR if it is so much work?” The answer is that the payoff has big dividends! The kind of value you can’t buy with advertising dollars. In a nutshell, with PR you earn credibility. Credibility is that unshakable quality that moves purchases your way and outscores any number of features you could possibly pack into a product. It is what makes one company a player and another just part of the noise.
A final note — you are the secret to a successful PR program. So why not embrace the opportunity and bring it on? The rewards of PR are waiting for you.