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FAQ

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about getting media coverage

Are there different processes for obtaining newspaper, magazine, TV and radio publicity?

Are there different processes for obtaining newspaper, magazine, TV and radio publicity? Yes. Generally speaking, newspapers and magazines look for longer, more in-depth stories. They typically have the physical space to cover more detail. Television is all about rush-rush, attention-getting visuals and pithy sound bites. Many TV news segments run 30 seconds or less. Radio could care less about visuals. It’s what you hear that counts, and the pace is often more fierce than television. Ironically, in some ways, print and broadcast journalists have little in common.

Can PR firms guarantee media coverage for their clients?

Can PR firms guarantee media coverage for their clients? There are no guarantees with the media. Savvy PR pros specialize in influencing the media, never controlling it. No PR firm has the power to ensure what print and broadcast journalists will decide to cover. What ends up in the news depends on many variables, including: what else is in the news that day, the personal likes and dislikes of a particular journalist, a business owner’s ability to be an effective spokesperson and whether or not a similar story was covered recently. Of course, the skill, timing and persistence with which a PR consultant presents a company’s message are huge factors in media success. Hire a PR consultant with demonstrated success in media placement.

Can you “make” your business newsworthy even when there seems to be no news?

Can you “make” your business newsworthy even when there seems to be no news? There are many effective strategies a company can use to get positive media coverage. Most of them take time and planning. Some companies sponsor community events and conduct informative surveys. Others work hard to be first with an important service. Still others give valuable products away to charity and raise large sums of money for nonprofits. All are venues for publicity.

Do the media really want to cover stories about smaller companies?

Do the media really want to cover stories about smaller companies? Aren’t they more interested in big Fortune 500 companies? Journalists love to cover successful, dynamic small companies. Small business growth is the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy. More and more people are quitting their big corporate jobs to strike out on their own, and their courageous achievements make exciting material for business journalists. Big companies suffer from a tarnished image in today’s world. There is a huge demand for stories about the little guy who works hard and comes out on top. There is just as much room in the news for great small companies as there is for great big companies.

Does the ability to write well influence the amount of media coverage a company receives?

Does the ability to write well influence the amount of media coverage a company receives? Yes. The inability to write in a clear, concise, appealing and relevant style can be the hidden reason one media campaign is successful and another is not. There are good writers in public relations, and there are bad ones. Bad PR writers communicate poorly with journalists. Bad PR writers send press releases and media communiqués that are scattered with typos, missing words, misspellings, industry jargon, buzzwords and corporate double-speak. Bad PR writers make grandiose claims and churn out unintelligible language that can damage reputations and make clients look foolish. Sadly, the client is often unaware. Hiring a PR consultant who is also a professional writer is a wise move.

How many press releases should a company send out every year?

How many press releases should a company send out every year? It depends. Some business owners believe a press release is a magic bullet: the more the better. Yet, there is much more to getting positive publicity than sending out press releases. In fact, a company that distributes indiscriminate press releases — releases that are filled with hype and not facts– is almost assuring that those press releases will end up in a reporter’s trashcan. Sometimes the PR pro bypasses the press release altogether and sends a personal letter or makes a phone call in order to get a journalist’s attention.

If my company wins an award, is this good PR?

If my company wins an award, is this good PR? Yes. Many companies win business awards, then accept their congratulations and go on. This is a mistake. Promoted wisely, even a single business award can shrewdly translate into a better bottom line for years to come. PR consultants know how to turn business recognition into media paydirt that can enhance a company’s image for years after the award is presented. They can also point clients to other competitions. Hundreds of small business contests are waiting for the right company to enter and win.

Is hiring a PR firm expensive?

Is hiring a PR firm expensive? PR consultants offer a niche service that requires know-how, experience and time. Successful, growing companies whose gross earnings are $1 million dollars and up are more often those who can afford to add PR to their marketing mix. Engaging a professional PR consultant is not cost-effective for most budget-minded start-up companies. Especially in larger media markets, start-ups typically haven’t demonstrated the track record needed to attract media attention.

Should every company hire a PR firm?

Should every company hire a PR firm? No. Hiring a PR firm is not necessary for every business. However, there are moments in the life of many companies when the fastest way to jumpstart sales, profits and market image is to engage a PR firm to promote positive news coverage. A media campaign can produce valuable results when launching a product, opening a new market or differentiating a company from its competition.

What does every PR consultant have in common with every real estate agent?

Why does every PR consultant have in common with every real estate agent? The real estate agent wants to sell the house to the very first looker- not the 10th or 20th looker. Likewise, the PR consultant wants to place the client’s story with the very first media outlet she contacts (TV/radio/magazine/newspaper) – not the 10th or the 20th. Even so, in the real world — for both real estate agents and PR consultants — this happy state of affairs is not typical. Selling homes requires researching the market, contacting the most likely prospects and getting out there on Saturday afternoons when the rest of the world is playing and showing that house over and over until the right buyer says YES. “Selling” (getting a reporter interested enough to want to write a story) a client’s story to the right reporter means writing press releases and contacting the most likely prospects by telephone, in email or in person and relating the client’s story over and over to the media until the right fit is made with the right media outlet. Patience and timing is important in both professions.

What important tactic do PR pros use to help companies get good media coverage?

What important tactic do PR pros use to help companies get good media coverage? They tie a company’s message in with the news. Sometimes a successful, but seemingly ho-hum small company with little to differentiate itself from the competition can tie into a hot current event that turns the business owner into a quotable news source, almost overnight. Case in point: A Florida real estate broker was interviewed – all within the space of a week – for articles in USA Today, Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Her secret was in the sky. Hurricanes were ravaging the state and the young broker was in the forefront of her city’s volunteer effort to relocate storm victims. The simple act of taking the time to help others in her community set her apart from the competition, made her an expert and then, a quotable source.

What is a “hook” and how do PR pros use “hooks” to generate great media coverage?

What is a “hook” and how do PR pros use “hooks” to generate great media coverage? PR consultants figure out a “hook,” a special angle that makes reporters want to interview, quote and put business owners in the spotlight. PR pros are experts at identifying the most effective hook to attract the right kind of media attention.

What is the best strategy a successful small company can use to hire a PR firm?

What is the best strategy a successful small company can use to hire a PR firm? Hire a big-name ‘Top 100’ firm with a national reputation – or a boutique-size shop with a proven track record? Good PR is good PR, but business is still business. Even a multi-million company cannot expect to receive the same attention and resources from a mega-PR firm as a huge corporate client. If a Fortune 500 company spends $200,000 to $500,000 a year for PR services and a much smaller company spends $25,000 to $50,000 – who will get the most attention?

Reputable, small PR shops typically put highly experienced pros – most likely, the owners themselves – to work for their clients. These are often the same people who learned the ropes earlier in their careers as employees of those big-name PR firms.

Owners of smaller PR firms are highly motivated and accessible to their clients. They are quick to work nights and weekends, if the need arises. They are in a position to provide on-the-dime turnaround that big PR firms simply can’t supply. Small firms have low overhead. They don’t office in glass skyscrapers furnished with mahogany conference tables. And most important, their owners provide the same, or better, array of media services as the mega-size firms. When hiring a PR firm, it is wise to consider solid experience over size.

What is the difference between advertising and PR?

What is the difference between advertising and PR? Advertising costs money, usually a lot of it. Within limits, paying the price pretty much permits the buyer to say what he pleases. In essence, the buyer owns the space. With PR, the media is in charge, and the media does not accept money for editorial coverage. Obtaining great PR requires skill, finesse, timing – even luck. Ethical journalists do not cover stories because someone pays them. Yet, when media and PR combine efforts and good coverage results, the client’s message is much more credible. Everyone knows you pay for advertising. PR provides a third-party endorsement that advertising cannot match.

What questions should you ask before hiring a PR firm?

What questions should you ask before hiring a PR firm? Answer: Ask the hard questions.

  • Does the firm and its consultants have a demonstrated track record of securing positive media coverage for clients?
  • What is the experience level of the consultant who will work with my company?
  • Has the firm you are considering made promises that seem too good to be true?
  • Does this PR consultant have sound, professional writing skills?
  • Has the PR consultant ever worked as a reporter or an editor – or for any part of the news media – before going into PR?
  • How will the consultant communicate with me, and how often?
  • Is the consultant willing to work off-hours, should an emergency PR opportunity arises?
  • How will the consultant communicate with the media – with targeted communiqués or standard cookie-cutter news releases?
  • Can the consultant provide references from other satisfied clients?
  • Finally, ask yourself: Can I trust this PR firm with my business and my reputation?

Why is a former journalist a good choice for a PR consultant?

Why is a former journalist a good choice for a PR consultant? Reporters and editors are especially responsive when they deal with people like themselves. The media have a language and culture all their own, and journalists-turned-PR-pros know this. Because of their past career experience, they possess special insight into what the media wants to cover. They know how to present a client’s story to best advantage. PR pros who are former journalists have a unique understanding of the time constraints and frustrations the media face every day — because they’ve lived it themselves. An interesting observation: If it were possible to line up all the PR pros employed by the nation’s Fortune 500 companies, more than likely, most would be former journalists.