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FischTank Marketing and PR

Companies ask about media relations all the time: “why is (insert competitor name) always in the press, and I’m not?” or “This company shouldn’t get the media coverage that we deserve!”

Great question. The truth is, your competitor is probably getting more positive press coverage than you because they’ve become more of a resource for journalists than you are. No, I’m not referring to money when I talk about resources, I’m talking about unique expertise on relevant subject matter that may be important for the journalist’s respective audience.

Companies and organizations that expect heavy news coverage need to prioritize forming and maintaining healthy, two-way relationships with the press. This means providing expert commentary, distributing embargoed or exclusive news releases ahead of time, sharing feedback on a topic even when you know it won’t be included in the story, etc. Provide VALUE! This means pointing the journalist in the right direction for insight, explaining why something is relevant or irrelevant, and putting the end result (that of the quality of the story/segment) above your own corporate objectives. Trust me, it will pay off later.

This emphasis on relationships and smart information flow is at the crux of everything we do here at FischTank. We work with journalists each day who are looking for insightful sources to quote and important announcements to cover, and ultimately introduce them to our clients.  It’s one of the reasons we’re recognized as a top Public Relations Company on DesignRush!

Learn more about the way we do things by contacting us at info@fischtankpr.com or by reading some of the other information on our website designed to educate and inform on public relations and marketing strategies. The strongest relationships we with have with our clients are founded upon collaborative partnership and understanding. We provide transparent insight and leadership when developing a media relations strategy, emphasizing assets and content, spokesperson capabilities, communications and marketing objectives, and other facts that align our actions with our client’s best interests.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

This op-ed was originally published for Bulldog Reporter on January 12, 2016.***

In 2011-2012, The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) conducted a crowdsourcing campaign to effectively boil down the definition of public relations into a clear, modern message:

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Really?

Public relations is a component of an integrated communications strategy.

This graphic seems to do a pretty good job.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing incorrect or outdated about the message you just read. It’s much better than I, or most, can do, and I consider it to be very accurate.

However – how many PR professionals would echo this sentiment? The same question must be asked of potential new clients – how do they define PR? Intuition and experience tell me that they wouldn’t come up with something so accurate either.

Let’s start with those working within the PR business, we all know there are quite many of us. Short of conducting a survey, I’ll just have to use my imagination:

  • “It’s getting my clients in the media.”
  • “Media exposure so people are aware of my client and their expertise/services.”
  • “Sharing my client’s story with the public.”
  • “Improving my client’s image and reputation.”

I stopped after four because it was repetitive, but I believe one could go on for another 20 minutes and a) use the word media several times as I did; b) continue to be repetitive; and c) still not fully comprehend the difference between action and objectives.

This, finally, brings me to my point. Public Relations service, one I consider to fall within and be a function of overarching Marketing and Communications practices – misses the boat when it comes to aligning a client’s goals and its own PR strategy. Instead, we’re left with many PR professionals (misguided by leadership) that are looking to force client inclusion in stories that don’t benefit (a key buzzword from the PRSA definition) the company they are paid to effectively represent. Most call this fitting a square peg into a round hole – many PR pros just call it a Thursday. This is why we see articles from reporters up in arms over misguided and mass-blasted media outreach, as noted here, here, and here.

But no, this is not another article blasting PR professionals. Perhaps there are two sides to this issue, and the other is the client only articulating the outcome they want from PR efforts, and believing PR and PR alone will get it done. Will PR boost their stock price? Generate new leads? Maintain brand equity? Improve recruiting efforts?

These are all possible! If a Company hires a firm who immediately generates media results in some of the right publications, how can you fault the relationship? Easy – the job isn’t done. Re-read the definition once more, and if you have time – read the entire short page of content. The word “media” doesn’t appear once. That’s because media outreach is in fact only a component of an effective public relations campaign.

In my humble opinion, there are many boxes that need to be checked in a sound PR strategy, including but not limited to:

  • First and foremost, defining a message is key. Take the time to do it early, and do it right.
  • It is time for PR firms to embrace digital marketing efforts. No, I’m not just talking about social. E-mail campaigns customized to each client’s needs are paramount. While most of a client’s audience will actually miss that awesome WSJ mention, anywhere from 20%-40% will catch it if you take the time to cultivate e-mail lists and send a timely, professional e-mail following the media relations coup.
  • Event attendance. Many companies struggle to pinpoint where to find their audience. Tradeshows, conferences, etc. are a good place to start. Forget sponsorship, purchase two passes and fight for the attendee contact list (see bullet two).
  • Web analytics. Please tell me you are paying attention to where your customers are coming from, and where they’re leaving your website?
  • Content is king. Yes, old saying but it still rings true. Write good content, attract smart people.

There are many more, but remember – they are resources and options, not requirements, for every campaign. The takeaway here is short and simple. To strengthen “relationships between organizations and their publics” – both the PR industry and their clients need to stop believing media relations and public relations are one in the same, and start building a more encompassing marketing and communications strategy.

 

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.