Is your PR company killing your Brand?

Have you appointed a PR company to help you promote your business? Do you know if they’re contributing positively to the value of your brand or detracting from the hard work you’ve put in to build it? It’s a fair question and one we think needs to be asked.

In many cases your PR company will charge a monthly retainer (fixed fee) with the promise of getting specific press releases as far and wide as they can, leveraging relationships with channel owners (publishers, bloggers, journalists etc) and doing so with no additional cost to you. It’s not a bad model but only when it’s done with mutual benefit for channel owners and your business. Your brand is affected when channel owners are aware of your PR company being paid while they beg, borrow, scrape and connive for free space in magazines, newspapers or online with no commitment to advertising or support.

So when is the damage done? In many cases channel owners are looking for fresh, interesting news that will appeal to their readers. That means a story needs to have a unique angle to it and appeal to the niche readership the channel owner has worked so hard to build. Lately more and more PR companies are using a bulk email approach to send out generic, bland press releases about happenings in a business that do not appeal to the specific reader. Combine bland PR with no financial support of the channel and you have a channel that begins to dislike a brand.

In an age where business is about relationships that work both ways, many PR companies are exploiting relationships with multi channel publishers to push weak content in order to justify their retainer. It’s not sustainable and channel publishers will support your competitors over you when they are willing to open up to a collaborative relationship that includes financial support of their channel product, whether magazine, newspaper or website.

How do you get a handle on it? Here are a few thought’s from our side.

  • Ask your PR company which channel owners they are targeting for exposure. Be sure there is synergy between your brand/product and that channel
  • Align a percentage of your marketing budget to the targeted channel. This will get you more that a 1:1 return on your marketing spend.
  • Don’t allow your PR company to only use media monitoring services to justify their retainer. Ask them for identify strategic relationships they are building with channel owners
  • Test your brand’s position with channel owners. Send them a personal email asking for feedback on PR they get for your company. They’ll be honest.

Remember everything has a cost. There is no such thing as free publicity, even on the web, and if this is the impression your PR company is giving you, they might be killing your brand.

1 Comment

  1. Megan Harris

    07/11/2012 at 15:42

    This is a very well put together email, and we fully support your thoughts. I own a Marketing Agency – we don’t specialised in PR, although we offer it, but rather focus on media buying on behalf of our clients – we BUY space for our clients from the channel, and due to the support we give the channel, we are often given value adding editorial space. The relationships are nurtured this way, the clients brand is favoured by the channel, the client is happy, the channel is happy, and of course we are smiling. It’s a win-win-win.

    That said there have been times where we have offered a channel an interesting, newsworthy story, and they have accepted and run it. The reason they are willing to do this is because they appreciate the support they know we will give them at another stage, or have given them in the past. The key is that the story must be newsworthy but also, and perhaps more importantly, the relationship with the channel needs to be nurtured from day one.

    Keep up a very good publication.

    MeganH

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