Numerous components go into satisfaction on both sides of the deal involving your invention or product
A good publicist will set forth an action plan with a very specific list of tactics upon which both parties agree.
BY ALYSON DUTCH
Public relations, one of many marketing methodologies a startup can use to launch a product, is often the first and least-expensive choice for the most exposure.
For inventors who have decided to build their own brands, there’s so much to learn about creating a company that is sustainable and profitable. Chief among them is hiring, and the art of checking expectations of those you hire.
Our PR company works with so many different kinds of people and varied products. For those who are new to hiring a PR agency, we’ve learned to become very flexible in providing services that mean something to each client. Being in the service business, we’ve learned that the expectations of each customer are very different.
To a publicity professional, PR means something very specific: getting a product or service reported about in the media that is read, seen or heard by your particular customer. There are other things that a publicist, PR firm or public relations person will do to create awareness, but getting “placements” in the media is the defining service.
Achieving the right fit
I bring up the subject of expectations because PR seems to be one of those amorphous activities that some may describe as “free advertising” or simply “getting awareness.”
Some clients are only interested in being on TV; some are interested in entrepreneurial profiles only; some are interested in product reviews only. Some may wish for awards or speaking opportunities.
These are all activities that a publicist provides for a client, but a good publicist will choose what kind of publicity will help move the needle for your business.
For example, if you have invented a new consultancy service, entrepreneurial profiles would be best to demonstrate your ability to consult. If you have a product that is sold to 12-16-year-olds, TikTok would be a good place to create awareness and would be chosen over another social platform such as Facebook that appeals to a much older audience.
If you have a product and a big celebrity attached to it, as our company recently had for a product with Shaquille O’Neal, you can expect the national morning show producers to take the story. Alternatively, if you have a medical device product with no clinical trials, no doctor or a celebrity attached, those same producers will not book you.
Publicity is an effort-driven marketing method. You should expect that your publicist gets you placements in places that mean something to your business. This should be spelled out in detail in advance, so you know what to expect and the PR outfit is held accountable.
Ask for proven tactics
Your publicist should do a deep dive into your customer profile first, then create press lists that match. He or she should also engineer press releases and pitches that appeal to the reporters whose attention they want to get. The lion’s share of what a publicist does is a constant pitching to reporters that makes the best sense for your product or service.
A good publicist will also set forth an action plan with a very specific list of tactics upon which both parties agree.
Tactics should include the writing of a press kit. These documents synopsize messaging for your product to be used by the press to create a repetition of your message. This includes press releases written at times that are newsworthy for your product; a fact sheet; executive biographies; and a backgrounder that explains how the product or company came to fruition.
Other tactics include media solicitation, at the very least. Publicists may add tactics such as the solicitation of awards and speaking opportunities, partnerships, social media, and/or cause marketing collaborations. Depending upon your product and your customer, the action plan tactics may include sampling to celebrities.
Sampling is something you should expect 100 percent of the time if you embark on a PR campaign. You must provide samples to the press if you expect them to report about you. This means full-size samples or experiences.
Why? Because if a reporter is being asked to give his or her opinion about your product, there is no way for that person to have an experience—without having an experience.
PR versus advertising
PR is a unique form of marketing that solicits the unbiased, unpaid and therefore purely editorial opinion of a reporter that means something to your customer. Of all the types of marketing you can use, it’s incredibly valuable because it provides a real and trusted opinion.
PR is a soft marketing method and usually not tied directly to sales. Yet it’s incredibly important, because people often don’t buy things because of advertisements. They want to hear about it from others they trust in order to pull out their credit card.
When you buy advertising of any kind, including paying an influencer to say something nice about you, the value is far down the ladder of influence. Word of mouth is the No. 1 type of marketing because when your friend (someone you already know and trust) knows about the sushi at the neighborhood sushi bar, it’s probable that you’ll try it too.
If a reporter you watch on TV or someone who you read or hear says the same thing, it’s the second-best marketing. You watch, hear or follow this person because you trust and like his or her opinions.
Advertising—yes, even influencers who are all paid—is No. 27 on the list of trust. That said: Younger consumers up to age 35 do buy from influencers and aren’t concerned about the fact that they are paid to showcase a product.
Older consumers are very turned off by advertising and have no respect for a product being hawked for payment.
In summary, you must be ultra clear to your publicist about what you expect before making the hire. Expectations can be dangerous, but only when they’re not put on the table in advance and agreed to by both parties.