How to manage your PR expectations

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One of the main reasons for starting this blog is to provide you with the right information and tools to help you be more successful at promoting your business and building your brand. It is my goal every week to try to motivate you to achieve greater things through your PR efforts. But, let’s be real, I’m not Mary Poppins. And, while I want to encourage you to pursue your PR goals and achieve media domination, a spoonful of sugar won’t help this medicine go down.

Today, I’m here with a dose of reality. It’s tough love time!

That’s right, I’ve made it my mission to help you readjust your PR expectations because, more often than not, they aren’t realistic.

Please don’t get me wrong: This post isn’t meant to discourage you. It is, however, about making sure your expectations are based in reality so that you have a solid strategy filled with measurable goals that can create sustainable growth and lead to long term success for your business or brand.

So many times I’m approached by potential clients complaining about how their previous PR representation or efforts didn’t garner the results they’d hoped for.

How do I reply to this, you may be wondering? With one simple question: “What were your PR goals?”

Here are the most common responses I encounter:

  • Being one of Oprah’s Favorite Things
  • Not having to promote myself, the way Tesla doesn’t have to advertise
  • Making my next social media post go viral
  • Selling 10,000 items from one news story
  • Appearing in a five-minute segment with Kathy and Hoda on The TODAY Show

Plain and simple, these goals are unrealistic.

As a PR professional, it is my job to manage your expectations properly. With clearly defined expectations, you can better understand the relevance and importance of what I—or really anyone who you may hire to assist you—can do for your business or brand.

Without taking the time to do this, everyone will be unhappy with the results. Myself included.

The following are six critical ways to manage your expectations realistically so that PR is worth your valuable time and budget.

Understanding PR’s purpose

By definition, PR is the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company, organization, or person.

The purpose of PR then, is to expand visibility and brand awareness, which can lead to new customers and, eventually, sales.

However, if you approach PR solely from a standpoint of how to gain additional sales from one dose of media coverage, there is a disconnect between what you think PR does and what it can actually do.

Getting press attention is one of the best ways to build your brand and get the word out about your business. But, PR is only a part of the sales funnel that will convert interest into sales.

Are you crystal clear on what true PR is? Here’s a previous blog post on what PR truly is that may be of interest to you.

The truth about Oprah

If I had a dollar for every time a client asked something like, “When are you going to get me in Oprah’s magazine?” or “How do I become one of Oprah’s Favorite Things?” I would have more money than Oprah herself.

The truth is, the chances of your business or product getting a coveted spot with Oprah, The TODAY Show, the New York Times, or any other major news outlet can be pretty slim.

Yes, Hearsay has helped client obtain some pretty awesome press over the years, but the fact is that these major media outlets have an incredibly limited number of slots available. And the competition for those slots is fierce.

While landing one of these sought after media opportunities is possible with the right pitch and a dash of good luck, the truth remains: for most businesses, these segments won’t happen.

Guess what? That’s not a bad thing. Don’t get discouraged!

So what, you don’t get a media hit with a huge national media outlet. It doesn’t mean any of your PR efforts are futile. Obtaining huge media wins should not be how you define success. For your PR or otherwise.

Rather, PR is a long term strategy. Success doesn’t happen by getting only 15 minutes of fame. Success happens by getting consistent results over a long period of time.

Patience, grasshopper

There’s no way around it, our society craves instant gratification. We are used to getting what we want when we want it. No exceptions.

That isn’t how PR works.

If you are expecting to see amazing, long-lasting results from your PR efforts in only a few weeks, you’re going to be incredibly disappointed.

Yes, it is possible that you will make the perfect pitch and land a story that earns a flurry of media coverage overnight. You’ll find, however, that the benefits you enjoy from this type of success won’t last that long.

PR is not a short-term strategy. PR is a marathon, not a sprint.

Your business or brand will not get significant, long-lasting results in a short period of time. It just isn’t how the process works.

It takes time to build your brand, to gain credibility, and to shape public perception of your business. It is something your business needs to be committed to for the life of your business.

This is precisely why Hearsay does not work with any clients for less than a three-month period. We don’t believe it is worth your time, money, or our effort to execute a strategy for a shorter period of time.

Why viral isn’t vital

The concept of going viral has poisoned society’s general understanding of how PR and social media work.

While a video, picture, or story here or there may go viral—meaning it secures massive visibility in an extremely short period of time—being a social media flash in the pan is not a quick solution for success, PR or otherwise.

A consistent, compelling content strategy must be put into place over the long term in order for you to see any significant results.

Repeat after me: PR of any kind is a marathon, not a sprint!

Timing really is everything

You pitch your latest news to the media. The media outlets love it. Interviews take place. You go on camera. Everyone at your company is excited to watch the segment. You tell your family, fans, and friends. And then your story never airs.

Why? Because breaking news happened an hour before your segment’s air time. It took priority, and your story got the boot.

With PR, timing really is everything. Which means even if a media outlet interviews you, there’s no guarantee your story will make it into print or on the air.

Here are a few reasons other than breaking news as to why your interview may not see daylight:

  • Broadcast stories are timed out to fit in the timeframe of a newscast. Even if there is not breaking news, other segments may take longer than originally planned. As the newscast continues, that time has to be made up. This means your story may get cut from the broadcast.
  • Print stories are strategically planned to fit into a set number of pages. Because of spacing issues, ads, or graphics, different stories may bump what was originally planned—you.
  • If it is the night shift or weekend, television stations are operating with a skeleton crew. Typically, there will be only one reporter and two videographers on staff. This lean team will have a ton to cover, all in a very limited amount of time. Things get missed.

You’re not changing the world

Hearsay operates on an extremely selective model which doesn’t allow us to represent any business or brand we don’t wholeheartedly believe in. I stand behind all of my clients and what they offer. At the same time, I also understand that more than likely none of us are going to singlehandedly change the world overnight.

More often than not, business owners (myself included) think that their product or idea is the most amazing thing ever. When this happens, said business owners assume that everyone in the media will automatically fall all over themselves to cover their story.

Sadly, reporters are pitched “innovative” and “game changing” ideas daily. So, while you may have something very interesting to offer, you aren’t the only one.

Because of this, it’s important to be realistic about how, when, and what you pitch the media. Have a plan and stick to it. Make sure your info is relevant and newsworthy. Always do your research before reaching out to any reporters, editors, or media outlets.

While tough to take, the info above comes from a place of love. I want y’all to succeed! Which is why it is important to take a step back to make sure you have realistic expectations for your PR activities.

Are you setting realistic expectations around your PR activities?

Want more helpful tips like the ones above plus more? Check out The Buzz: A Media Darling’s Guide to Press Coverage, get on the wait list for Hearsay’s PR mastermind group (launching soon), or email me directly to schedule a Mini PR or Mini PR Plus session today!