You definitely need a PR
Often times, talents ask me, “Why do I need a publicist?” If you have to ask the question, chances are, you probably need one.
Why? there are too many stories, angles, and opportunities you might miss if you do not know the rules of the game and in your zeal to tell the world about your story, you may end up stumbling over your own efforts, make the wrong moves, send out wrong press materials, wrong pictures, make wrong appearances, make wrong social media posts/ comments or worse.
As a talent/Public figure who maintains a high public profile, your publicist serves as your media and public spokesperson who would write and issue timely press releases, field media inquiries, organize press conferences, stage public appearances, schedule photo shoots, draft speeches, and maintain Wikipedia page/website and social pages—you didn’t think your favourite celebs wrote all their own tweets/ Instagram captions, did you?
One of the biggest frictions that can occur between publicists and client is the misconceptions clients have about what Public Relation is.
Here are a few common client misconceptions about PR:
PR Works in a void
One of the most common beliefs from talents is that they can hire a Publicist to come in and magically wave a wand to get them the visibility they so desperately want. Reality Check, please. You are not cinderella and your Publicist is not the fairy godmother about to bibbity bobbity you into stardom.
Sometimes, the client may think they can cross their legs, check out, and the Publicist will do the rest.
People in PR know it doesn’t work that way. For the relationship to be most effective, the talent needs to engage with the publicist. There is a need for both proactive and reactive input from the talent in order to maximize the PR efforts. If you don’t have the time to engage with your PR team, now may not be the right time to engage in a public relations effort. It’s a two-way street – not a one-man show.
Results from a devoted PR effort happen overnight
In reality, it takes a little longer. As with content marketing, SEO, influencer engagement or any marketing activity, results from PR can take some time. If a talent believes that one press release, one interview, one photoshoot or campaign is going to blow up and go viral, you may want to direct them to another agency.
It takes an ongoing, conscious and consistent effort to achieve the kind of results most clients want. Be sure to set expectations and timelines upfront, so there are no misunderstandings later.
PR results are guaranteed
I walked in on a conversation between two of my staff members Lami and Eniola, something along the lines of, “PR is a gamble.” and truly it is safe to say so.
There are PR professionals who will tell clients this upfront—and some who won’t. Talents need to understand that the results of a PR effort are NOT guaranteed. It’s not like buying an ad, which means you know what day it will appear and what it will say.
PR is a combination of paid and earned media, for paid exposure you can measure and take account but earned media, on the other hand, relies on media guys who are pulled in many directions, there’s no guarantee that a story/ mention will appear or what it will say. It’s a PR professional’s job to open the door of opportunities for the client. What happens after that is somewhat out of our hands.
PR pros control what journalists publish and when
Yes, per #3, PR can open the door to opportunities—but what ends up in the finished story isn’t up to us, except it’s a paid feature. Sources can be cut as a story evolves. Stories can be killed due to breaking news. There are elements of the publishing process that are simply out of PR’s control.
However, while the Publicist may not be able to control how a story turns out, the publicist can still work hard to ensure that he twists the public perception of the story, only with the cooperation of the talent.
Talents need to understand this, so they don’t enter a PR engagement believing that public relations pros have complete control. We’re on the media outlet’s timeline – not the other way around.
Talent does not need to vet What PR Pros Provide
This goes back to engagement. If I send you a document, I expect feedback – not only approval with no comments. This happens far too often. It makes me wonder, “Did the talent even read what we wrote?”
Talents need to invest the time to read what we send and provide input. Or sometimes, we may need to bounce ideas around. Or we may want them to proactively send us an industry article they saw that might pertain to an angle we may be thinking of pitching.
The point is, a healthy relationship should go beyond rubber-stamping what the PR team provides.
Finally, PR can do wonders for a talent that’s ready to engage and understands the value PR can provide. A Publicist is that person who diffuses time bombs that would have otherwise ruined your career. Take a look at an example of what happened with Beyonce when a simple expression on her face was misconstrued by her fans and they went berserk. It was her Publicist that stepped up to clear up the issue and prevent damage to Beyonce’s persona.
One of my best-kept business secrets is having an open dialogue with prospective clients, telling them upfront about what PR is—and what it isn’t. After all, collaboration often produces greater results.
Adekeye is a media professional and lead partner for Estol Africa
Social handle: @cutekimani
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