Tag Archives: Publicity

How to prepare for an interview with a reporter

smiYou’ve reached an exciting point for your business! You’ve been approached by the media to participate in an interview about your company.

This can be both exciting and nerve wracking for you, especially if you’ve never been interviewed before. Make no mistake, an interview with a reporter can open a lot of doors for your company. Media coverage can transform your company exposure and brand awareness in your geographic or industry market, so you definitely want to be on your A-game for the interview.

Leave a positive impression of your business and dominate your upcoming interview with these tips.

Anticipate questions

Whether you’re being interviewed about company news, a product launch, or for thought leadership, you need to anticipate questions of all kinds. You never know what kind of curve balls could be thrown your way, so try your best to do enough preparation for the tough questions. Research previous interviews that have been done by the reporter you will be interviewing with to get an idea of their style. They may ask similar or even the same questions. Look up common interview questions online and prepare answers for the questions. The more preparation you do in advance the less anxious you will be about the interview.

Research industry trends

When being interviewed, you want to be seen as an authority figure in your field. One way to do that is by staying up to date on the current industry news and trends. Before your big interview, it’s a good idea to brush up on current events outside of your own company.  It is better to be over prepared, because the last thing you want is to be in the dark on an important current event. Spend the week leading up to your interview surfing the web for relevant articles about topics in your field. The more you know, the more confident and knowledgeable you’ll come across.

Outline a clear message

Before your interview, take the time to outline your key purpose. What do you want people to gain from watching your interview? Keep this question in mind throughout your interview to stay on track. It is always a good idea to organize your thoughts before anything, from writing a memo to giving a presentation, to being interviewed by the media. Understanding your message will make it easier for you to answer tough questions. It will also cause you to be less nervous and appear more confident. Outlining your central theme ahead of time will make you less likely to contradict yourself when under pressure.

Practice

Practice makes perfect! Interviews can be tough because all of the focus is placed on you, but it’s a great chance to get your name out there and create buzz for your business. The more comfortable you are during your interview, the smoother it will go. Ask your family, friends, or coworkers to run through some practice questions before the interview. You can also practice alone by talking in front of the mirror. Whatever you do, don’t jump head first into an interview without any sort of preparation. You can’t take back your words, so be sure to practice enough to choose them wisely.

 

About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

How to win more Awards, Recognitions and Top-10s for your company

When was the last time your company won an award? Were you called up to a pedestal during a formal ceremony, or sent a beautifully embossed certificate to hang on the office wall?

Do you remember how it felt? Did the congratulations pour in from customers and vendors, friends and family? Did you get a couple new customer referrals in the weeks after the announcement?

Awards and industry recognitions help a brand stay top-of-mind and among an elite group in a given industry. Awards solidify a reputation, cement a legacy and build a brand.

If your company isn’t going after awards then you are missing out on one of PR’s best ways to gain valuable media mentions. The irony, however, is that only a small, shrewd percentage of companies pursue awards on a regular basis. Granted, some awards are won based at large selections but most are based on applications carefully prepared well in advance of the award announcement.

Heck, even Academy Awards are based on an a form that must be submitted by December 2 every year and proves a given film meets certain basic criteria set forth by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The beauty of awards is that there are so many of them and they’re easy to find and apply to.

Here is a list of ideas to consider as you look to put your brand on a pedestal and attract well-deserved attention from media and onlookers.

Industry awards: every industry has them. They are annual events, sometimes tied to a conference or trade show, and winning is a big deal. Addys for ad agencies, SWSW Gaming Awards for cool new video games, kids toys and board games, fashion awards, startup awards, mobile apps, consumer product awards. I once helped a pet store get a media write-up for a pet store industry award it received. Research your industry to find awards most closely related to what you do and be sure to give yourself plenty of time before the deadline to create a compelling case for your brand.

Inc. 500/5000: The annual Inc. 500/500 list is the much-anticipated list of the highest-growth private small and mid-sized companies in the U.S. Getting on the list conveys an imprimatur of success, profitability and huge upside potential. The challenge of getting on the list is you have to be able to substantiate a four-year track record of revenue growth, albeit not based on audited financials, with minimum annual revenue greater than $200,000. Still, landing on the list is well worth the effort. Heck, your name gets added to the magazine’s list, which is one of the most anticipated editions of the year. Just don’t go overboard buying all the swag, trophies, plaques that end up costing an arm-and-leg above what you expected.

Business journals awards: American City Business Journals holds annual awards in the 40 or so metro areas they serve. The list of awards ranges from Fast 50, which recognizes the 50 fastest growing small & mid-sized businesses in a particular metro area, to commercial and residential real estate awards, to its Best Places to Work award for small, medium and large companies. Find your city at this [link] for more information.

Chamber of Commerce awards: many chambers of commerce hold annual award galas to draw attention to their most outstanding member companies. It’s a great way to gain recognition from your peers in a community, publicity and more business.

Community newspaper awards: many local newspapers hold annual awards for a wide variety of topics. Some I have seen in Austin from the Austin American-Statesman and Austin Chronicle include social media awards, music awards, restaurant awards, workplace awards, healthiest employer awards. Your community will undoubtedly have similar awards so do a little research to find the ones you are most suited for and go for it!

National Small Business Week award: every year the Small Business Administration (SBA) recognizes the special impact made by outstanding entrepreneurs and small businesses. Because it’s a national award, the competition is intense but it doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time to apply. After all, just like Wayne Gretzky said many years ago: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t make.” To learn more, click [here].

The Crunchies: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention The Crunchies as a separate award category. The Crunchies is put on by TechCrunch, long the leading voice on all topics related to startup and established technology. The annual award event is billed as the Oscars for the tech industry. It’s where you see Enfant Terrible CEO’s like Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and apps like Yik Yak used by Enfant Terribles to bash and bully one another come together in one star-studded night at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco.

Top 10 lists: lists of the top 10 of everything abound online. You can even write a top 10 list for your own blog, or as a guest post on another blog. If you provide a product, whether B2B or B2C, then getting into a top 10 list is an effective way to gain credibility and more website clicks. Find out which online publications have created top 10 lists in the past and email them to suggest your businesses as a possible contender for the next list.

Final tip: Don’t forget to self promote your honors and accolades and get your fans to do so as well. After all, the award is the perfect excuse for your social network to gush about how great you are at what you do, effectively becoming an extended referral sales network free of charge!

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded an Austin tech startup PR firm for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare, consumer and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave about the PR over Coffee blog, feel free to tweet him at @davemanzer or email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.

And the Oscar for celebrity PR goes to…

Who did you think won or lost at the PR Oscars last night? Was it Eddie Redmayne’s unbridled boyish excitement at winning best lead actor playing Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything? Patricia Arquette’s impassioned call for equal rights for women in America? How about newcomer Graham Moore opening up about his attempted suicide as a teen growing up “weird and different?”

The PR buzz from an Oscar winning performance, or nearly winning an Oscar, or being one of the award announcers, is seismic and leads to publicity lasting for days, weeks and even years.

Who can forget Sally Field’s 1985 Oscar speech when she incredulously cried out “You like me, you really like me?” As though anybody could ever not like Sally Field, the once and always Flying Nun and indomitable union organizer Norma Rae.

The buzz of the Oscars surpasses any other spectacle out there, short of who won the U.S. Presidency or Super Bowl (not necessarily in that order). When celebrities get it right – capture a moment with passion and authenticity – then the gold shines for years and decades to come.

Unfortunately, when they get it wrong, as John Travolta did last year with his now infamous “Adele Dazeem” butchering of Idina Menzel’s name, it can last for some time to come. The proliferation of social media, video and “fast-food” news outlets that feast on faux pas and f**k-ups makes it pretty near impossible to escape the boomerang of self-inflicted buzz.

Sadly, another celebrity filled the role Travolta voided this year, but in more troubling ways than a simple verbal flub. As he announced the best picture award, Sean Penn, after an awkward pause, came out with this bomb, which had Twitter written all over it: “Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?” And dear friends, Twitter indeed erupted, media outlets scooped and talking heads opined.

You might just say it’s just another day in “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” of the Oscars. You’d be right, of course. Not every actor has an Oscar-worthy acceptance speech at-the-ready, and those who deviate from the script do so at their own peril (although anything Alejandro Inarritu said last night was truly for the ages).

So it goes with our love-cringe relationship with the Oscars. We celebrate the industry’s artistry even as we glimpse the flawed humanity behind it. Part prurient publicity, part noble idealism, we watch the annual event’s showiness and are by turns delighted and disappointed.

I, for one, will always love the beautiful messiness of the Oscars.

About Dave Manzer:  Dave Manzer founded an Austin tech startup PR firm for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare, consumer and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave about the PR over Coffee blog, please tweet him at @DaveManzer or email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.

Beck proves he’s no loser, and should be your Brand’s spokesperson

Anybody who didn’t spend four hours to watch the Grammys last Sunday let me summarize the important parts for you:

Beck beat Beyonce out for Album of the Year. Kanye rushed the stage. Beck invited Kanye back to the stage. Kanye recommended Beck give the Grammy to Beyonce (implying Beck was somehow not, despite his writing all of his own music and playing a gazillion instruments for it, a real artist). Beck expressed incredulity at beating Beyonce. Beck said everybody (read Kanye) is entitled to an opinion about his artistic talent, adding Kanye deserved a Grammy for his great work and that he aspires to be as good as him.

There, that’s all you really need to know. Now on to why Beck should be the spokesperson for your brand.

A spokesperson needs to represent the best of what your brand is or can be. In the course of doing business tricky, thorny and emotionally charged issues will confront brands and the brand spokesperson needs to handle them with the aplomb and humility of, well, Beck! A spokesperson should be part Zen master and part ring master in his or her ability to stay calm and articulate, see the big picture, coordinate chaos, all the while making sure the public comes away better for the experience.

Let’s break down Beck as spokesperson, shall we?

Best of a brand: nobody who has followed Beck over the last 20 years can argue that he doesn’t represent the best of the best in the music industry. He’s wildly creative, single-minded in his dedication to his art form, and even achieved a degree of commercial success that many mainstream bands crave – and he’s been far, far away from going mainstream in his career. His ability to play 16 or so instruments is the stuff of legend. Nobody doubts his song writing chops. Now, with Best Album Grammy firmly in hand, he’s represents the best of the best.

Zen master: Beck is probably a distant relative of the Buddha in a prior life or something because that dude totally stayed in the present, letting Hurricane Kanye wash over him like a sandy island in the Caribbean. He’s bounced and weaved – butterfly and bee stuff – to Kanye’s George Foreman. Yet throughout the glitz, glam and stress of the moment, he remained seemingly calm and collected.

Humility: a brand, however great, should never succumb to hubris. Nobody is immune to backlash. Beck handled Kanye’s stage antics and ludicrous affront to his artistry with so much humility that even Pope Frances was taking notes. Instead of getting angry that Kanye questioned his artistry, Beck turned the tables and actually complimented Kanye by saying he deserved Grammys for his incredible body of work over the last five years. Beck actually said he still loves Kanye and aspires to be like him – and nobody for a second doubts this. Why? Because he means it!

Articulate under pressure: this kind of relates to being a Zen master, but staying articulate under pressure is very different from remaining calm. Beck was deeply nuanced in the perception (both his and the world’s) of his unexpected win. He acknowledged its unlikelihood and his own belief that Beyonce, superstar and artist that she is, was the odds on favorite. He also deflected Kanye’s emotionally charged remarks in a moment of grace that bordered on brilliant, bringing to mind a Mom picking up an angry toddler and hugging away the hurt and fleeting fury. By saying Kanye deserved to be on the stage, Grammy in hand, he addressed what’s undoubtedly a personal animus Kanye must feel at being nominated for but never winning the best Album of the Year award (or maybe that’s just my opinion). Either way, like any spokesperson, Beck absorbed the emotions and didn’t react negatively to stoke them even more, rather he gave out compliments and sucked the poison right out of the moment.

Humor: this could also be part of humility but it’s a different mindset. Not that a spokesperson crack jokes in the midst of a crisis involving, say, a jet crash or gas line explosion. But humor is as much an ingredient of great brand positioning as any quality out there, in part because it puts people at ease in what are sometimes awkward or painful situations. Beck’s humor was quirky and organic to his personality so there were no forced funny moments to betray any suppressed anger toward Kanye or lack of sympathy to Beyonce’s disappointment.

What more can I say? Got a brand in need of an expert spokesperson to handle the battering, take-no-prisoner world of commerce? Look no further than Beck.

Plus, I hear he writes a mean commercial jingle!

About Dave Manzer:  Dave Manzer founded an Austin tech & healthcare PR agency for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave directly about the PR over Coffee blog, please email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.

Nude pics of Kim Kardashian are lewd (but shrewd) PR

IMG_0453Kim Kardashian’s nude photos on Paper mag made as big a splash on the Internet as the sexually suggestive spewing bottle of Champagne did in a foamy arc around her.

The reaction in social media was immediate, prolific and a pure joy to watch. BuzzFeed shows a series of tweets that include hilarious comments and memes, as did New York Magazine’s “ass-tastic” ass-essment of the pics.

Other reactions were far less indulgent toward’s KK’s latest attempt to “break the Internet.” Comedian Chelsea Handler posted a shot of her own bare butt on Instagram with the challenge to compare hers to Kardashian’s and decide which one is real (presumably she meant not Photoshopped).

No matter what your opinion of Kardashian and the photos may be, you have to give her props for the effectiveness of her latest PR stunt, because that’s what it is – a PR stunt.

There are many subtleties to what Kardashian (and her handlers – a loaded term when talking about Ms. Kardashian) was able to accomplish with these photos. But it’s pretty damn brilliant stuff.

Here is a quick run-down on why this latest round of lewd behavior from Kim is actually pretty shrewd PR strategy:

BUZZ: One of the main goals of PR is to get people talking about your brand. The buzz is designed to attract attention to your various brand assets that, in the case of Kardashian, include her official website; her mobile app, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood; her family’s reality TV show, Keeping up with the Kardashians; her perfume line; and on and on.

What’s more, Kardashian got a lot of celebrities talking about her photos, and all of the celebrities have thousands (sometimes millions) of followers, which increased the buzz exponentially.

PR Stunt: Yea, I’m pretty sure oiling yourself up and posing naked for a photo shoot with the sole intent of bringing down the Internet is a PR stunt! And it worked, at least the PR stunt part of it did. As far as I know, the Internet did not break.

Authentic messaging: Work with me on this one. What is Kim Kardashian known for? Her body, right? Her body got her to where she is today, along with a lot of lucky breaks, living in L.A., etc. Her brand is all about her image, which is infused with sexuality, generous curves and the Hollywood celebrity scene. These nude pictures give what her massive fanbase wants, and her detractors loathe – more uncensored, unapologetic and uncorked Kim. The messaging of any PR campaign should always derive organically from what the brand stands for, its body of work and positions on issues (puns intended). Well, it’s pretty hard to argue that Kim isn’t doing exactly that in her latest nude photo shoot.

Visual: Relax CEOs, you don’t have to bare it all for the camera. By visual, I mean that most successful PR campaigns appeal to the senses in some form or another. Taylor Swift releases a new song, and the music media talks about the song, the lyrics, her transition away from Country toward more Pop sensibilities, etc. A product release is accompanied by videos and photos of how the product looks and works.

The same applies to Kardashian. Sure, she can go on record in an interview that she’s all for being comfortable with her public displays of nudity, even as a mother of a one-year-old. But choosing to do it in the way she did in Paper mag elevated the message’s impact by being a carefully orchestrated visual production as opposed to a random shot of Kim going topless at Cannes.

Strategic: Another successful ingredient in PR is to execute a consistent brand media strategy. The most memorable brands invest in their PR strategy and incorporate it into the broader marketing strategy as a way to keep the message consistent across all communication channels and keep it in front of the media in hopes of getting more publicity. Kim’s team does a fabulous job of blending her PR and marketing along a dizzying array of brand assets, product endorsements and acting roles.

Social media: To be successful, a PR campaign must play to both traditional media outlets and social media. Think of social media as a kind of echo chamber where a message from a PR campaign can take on a life of its own but can, and should, be abetted through actions on the part of the company’s PR and marketing team. Kim has no problem in that department with 25m Twitter followers and gobs of fans eating up her pictorial posts in Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

Risk: I always say you have to take a pretty big risk to be considered worthy of media coverage. Whether that’s holding a Thanksgiving Fun Run benefitting homeless in your community or airlifting snow shovels to a snow-stricken town in Alaska, you have to take some risk. Often there’s a commensurate investment involved, either in the form of donated time, cash or inventory. Sometimes risk comes in the form of taking a controversial position or doing something unexpected.

I once worked with a real estate agent who donates 25% of every commission to a charity of her customers’ choosing – when she passed $250,000 in total donations in less than 5 years that became BIG news. But it started with a risk – always giving away one quarter of her earned income to charity no matter how well (or poorly) she was doing in any given month.

Kardashian is no different. To get where she is today she made decisions and took risks that put her on that path. Now whether you think that path is one that is even worth being on is another discussion altogether. The fact is she us hugely successful with her media outreach in large part because she’s doing some pretty outrageous things like popping Champagne over herself and oiling her body up for a series of risqué photos.

Nobody is saying that what Kim Kardashian has done is going to have any lasting impact on the world. It’s possible she gave us a series of photos as iconic as some of those of Marylyn Monroe, although I doubt it. She may have made it easier for celebrity (and non-celebrity) moms to show off their assets and feel good about it (albeit with a little help from every models friend, senor Photoshop). Or she may have ushered in a greater acceptance of what’s hard to deny is a new era of booty-flashing, sex-driven social media.

What’s hard not to deny is that Kim Kardashian is among a very elite group of celebrities who use PR and marketing in ways many companies could learn from, especially if they want to interest the media and grow the reach of their brand into every corner of the Internet.

About Dave Manzer:  Dave Manzer founded an Austin PR and marketing firm for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave directly about the PR over Coffee blog, please email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.

What’s the difference between PR and advertising?

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Many small business owners are often left confused and clueless about the difference between PR and advertising. It’s a rare week that passes without me getting asked how my PR services can get some great “ads” in the local news.

It’s nobody’s fault, really. Many entrepreneurs don’t have a background in PR or advertising. They tend to be masters of their own universe, operational geniuses in their own industry – restaurants, consulting services, manufacturing, tech startups, healthcare providers, etc.

So this week’s post will attempt to set the record straight by explaining the differences between publicity – which is the goal of PR – and advertising.

Earned versus Paid Media.

This is a big differentiator. PR is firmly on the earned media side of the equation, which simply means that you do not pay to get your business covered by a media outlet. Publicity is ‘earned’ in that you have to earn the attention of a reporter, editor or producer with a unique story idea about your business. There is no fee involved in getting the media to cover you, apart from what you pay a PR professional or your own internal PR person.

Advertising, on the other hand, is all about paying for media placements. You pay for guaranteed ad space in a newspaper, magazine, TV show, website or, these days, free mobile apps. There’s a lot of art work involved, decisions about when to run the ad, how frequently, etc. As long as you are able to write the checks, you are never going to run out of media outlets that will work with you to help you spread your brand messages.

Facts versus Emotions.

Another difference between PR and advertising involves emotions. Because PR involves convincing journalists and other news media professionals to cover your business, your primary message has to be grounded in “facts” rather than emotions. That’s not to say that a cause related PR campaign – think breast cancer awareness month in October – can’t appeal to emotions; it just has to be as reliant on facts and helpful information for the broader public as it is on emotional triggers. After all, the job of a media outlet is to keep its audience informed, entertained and coming back for more.

Advertising is a lot different in that it can be purely emotional in nature, highly factual or anything in between. The job is not just to inform but also to drive interest about your product or service with the intent to increase sales (or fundraising if you’re a nonprofit). PR’s goal is very similar, of course, but the way it goes about it is fundamentally different. A commercial on TV can show a grandfather with his adorable granddaughter sitting in a chair reading a book with syrupy sweet background music to play on your emotions with a message about financial investments or heart medicine, and viewers will decide whether to tune in or out depending upon their psychographic make-up. A PR pitch with the same tone would undoubtedly turn off most reporters.

Cross your Fingers versus Absolute Control.

Because PR is ‘earned’ and not ‘paid’ media, there is an element of chaos theory at work. In other words, you don’t control the message that is ultimately packaged for consumption by the broader public. It’s firmly in the hands of a reporter, editor or producer, hence the ‘cross your fingers’ element. Still, if you reach out to the right media outlet and reporter, lay your story out in a clear and organized fashion, work hard to make sure the media outlet has all the information (pictures, video, quotes, hard facts, etc.) in a timely manner, then your chances are pretty good that you will net a good piece of publicity. Mind you, that doesn’t mean you will come away smelling like a rose every time! And some reporters take a thesis-antithesis-synthesis approach, meaning that they will present a negative (or counter) point to challenge or question your business approach, and then end with a recap of your ambitions and assertions.

Advertising is a blank canvas and you are the artist. It is virtuous in its ability to give you total control over your message’s elements – color, composition, music, tone. As long as you have the money, you can create any kind of message in any kind of medium. Think Super Bowl ads, which have become the only reason that some tune in to watch the game and cost a cool $4 million for 30 seconds – not including the cost to produce the ad.

Opt-in versus Tune-out.

The main advantage of PR is that information consumers – whether in print, radio, Internet or mobile – are interested in acquiring the information produced by a given media outlet. In other words, they are opting in – think news content found on CNN, TechCrunch and local newspapers and also reality-based entertainment like Diners, Drive-ins & Dives, Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain or locally produced shows like Austin’s Daytripper with Chet Garner. If your tech startup is featured on TechCrunch or Fast Company, then you ARE the focus of what readers want to learn.

Advertising is window dressing around the featured product the media outlet produced. Given the explosion of ads over the past decade plastered over every media imaginable (not to mention inside produced content like TV shows, movies and even novels), it’s no surprise that we consumers have a knee-jerk reaction to tune out the constant assault on our senses. True, some ads do capture our imagination and become a subject of fascination and viral social sharing, but those tend to be few and far between. 99.9999% of all ads are viewed as a necessary evil in our quest to acquire helpful information or entertainment.

Fans versus Sensory Assault Victims.

The beauty of getting publicity in national or hyper-local media outlets is that you become the object of the audience’s attention. In the hands of a good writer or producer in the right media outlet, you can become an overnight success with hordes of fans following your every move on social media and new customers raving about your products or services. Oprah was famous for her ability to rave about a product on her show and generate an avalanche of sales within 24 hours to the extent that some businesses would sell out of inventory overnight. Steven Colbert has his ‘Colbert Bump,’ which is the recognition – often expressed in social media or commercially through sales of books or songs – a particular guest or product gets after appearing on The Colbert Report.

Advertising, on the other hand, is rarely that inspiring to the masses. Every blue moon you may see an ad go viral and get everybody’s interest on social media. It’s incredibly rare and the interest in the ad can be as much about the ad itself as in the product or service. Advertising tends to play on human emotions by manipulating our responses to certain sensory triggers like attractive models in clothing ads, maudlin music in investment commercials aimed at aging Baby Boomers, cute kids smiling and laughing at an amusement park, etc. Some ads are purely promotional in nature and serve to alert consumers to imminent sales: Labor Day sales, Mother’s Day sales, Black Friday sales. Bottom-line: advertising is the white noise in our day that we have to tune out in order to stay sane – or else we risk turning into a gelatinous mass of emotions binging on Sonic milkshakes, ordering Viagra, flipping through Victoria’s Secret catalogs, or God only knows what else.

In summary, both approaches provide incredible value for a brand. The frequency of advertising is a great way to stay top-of-mind among customers and prospects. The newsworthiness of publicity is the meal consumers pay to eat and enjoy.

When used together, PR and advertising provide businesses an opportunity for growth in revenue and brand awareness over time that is hard to match.

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded an Austin PR agency for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer is one of the only agencies in the country specializing in technology, healthcare and energy PR to provide blended performance-based pricing. To contact Dave directly, please email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.

The worst reasons to fire your PR agency

unnamedLet’s face it, you hire an outside service firm to help your company with an activity you either don’t know how to do or REALLY hate to do yourself.

In the case of PR, it involves a completely different way of looking at sales and marketing; and it takes a certain mind-set to deal with journalists, many of whom can be aloof, blunt and bitingly cynical.

So let’s say, for arguments sake, that you are less than happy with your PR agency. For whatever reason, you are not satisfied with the results they have brought you after spending an unspecified amount of money on pursuing a PR campaign for your business.

I’m not here to “talk you off the ledge” and keep the agency on. There may be some very legitimate reasons for your decision to take the axe to the agency. That said, there are also several suspect reasons for such a radical decision and they deserve to be analyzed a little more before making such a choice.

In my opinion, here are the worst reasons to fire your PR agency (oh, and if this in any way describes you, then reconsider your decision and try a little more to work things out – just sayin’):

#1 worst reason to fire a PR agency: I haven’t gotten into the Wall Street Journal yet. For starters, very-very-very few companies ever make it into the Wall Street Journal. It often takes a long time of studying the trending story opportunities and presenting your company as part of a larger macro-trend to be featured in the WSJ (or other major news outlets).

#2 worst reason to fire a PR agency: Three months and nothing. Three months is not a lot of time for a PR agency to really get to know your company in-and-out in order to discover all that’s potentially newsworthy about it. Not that that’s an excuse, but it’s not uncommon for a PR agency to only really see results beginning in months three and four. On a side note, you may consider 1-2 media pick-ups as “nothing” as well, but in reality that’s not bad. Remember, how much media coverage you get is a function Budget x Activities x Collaboration (where Budget is the amount of dollars invested in PR, Activities is how much your company is doing to be newsworthy – think product launches or adding new offices – and Collaboration is how closely you work with the PR agency to gain publicity).

#3 worst reason to fire a PR agency: Publicity didn’t say exactly what I wanted. Just because a media outlet decides to write about you doesn’t mean it’s an endorsement and a glorified advert for your business. The majority of journalists are paid to be thoughtful about what they write, trained to fact-check and proud about giving a thorough examination of a topic. Rarely will journalists sound like cheerleaders; if they did, everybody would suspect them of being paid to shill for a company.

#4 worst reason to fire a PR agency: Costs too much money. Well, it’s hard to argue that point as a reason NOT to fire a PR agency but sometimes it actually is a bad reason. Naturally, a lot depends upon your budget and what the firm is charging. Remember, you are paying for highly skilled PR specialists to do something that is not in everybody’s wheelhouse. It’s not uncommon for PR agencies to charge $5,000 – 10,000 per month to come up with a variety of media-friendly content, discover unexploited news hooks and work the media on your behalf to secure publicity that helps position your brand top-of-mind among your customer base.

#5 worst reason to fire a PR agency: They don’t offer everything. Some PR agencies offer fewer services than others.  Boutique firms like these tend to specialize in certain aspects of PR, such as PR that drives outbound lead gen, or crisis communication in the event you find yourself explaining a messy lawsuit or industrial accident. Consider bringing in a similarly specialized firm to complement what your existing PR agency does and see if they can work together to provide you a more complete set of services. This could save you a lot of time and money in the long run, especially if the firm you have is already doing a good job.

#6 worst reason to fire a PR agency: Change of leadership. From time to time, a PR agency may lose a PR professional who decides to go out on his or her own or joins another agency. I may run afoul of some here, but I’m inclined to say you should stay with the agency at least a little longer to see if they can come up with a new liaison who can do as good a job as your past ‘go-to’ PR professional. Again, there’s a cost associated with leaving an agency – even if you move with your past PR liaison – and you at least want to weigh your options carefully before deciding.

At the end of the day, succeeding in PR takes a strong commitment that includes spending time, money and ‘stick-to-itiveness’ on working with your PR agency of choice.

My advice is to not make any rash decisions, work with your agency’s liaison to come up with a plan everybody can be happy with and then keep your head (and heart) in the game!

Happy prospecting!

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded an Austin PR agency for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer is one of the only agencies in the country specializing in technology, healthcare and energy PR to provide blended performance-based pricing. To contact Dave directly, please email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.

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