Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Top Ten Reasons Why PR Doesn't Work - Apparently 100% The Client's Fault

Super Blogger Guy Kawasaki has a post up on May 24th written by his friend Margie Zable Fisher called "The Top Ten Reasons Why PR Doesn't Work".

We all know that PR is an important, valuable and mysterious tool to the success of any product, service, company, book, movie, politician, etc..... and her article is full of very important points. However, it also hits to the core of my frustration with most public relations professionals:

Anything that does not work is ALWAYS the fault of the client and their lack of commitment or understanding!!!

She is right, clients do not grasp how PR really works or the scope of how long it can take to reach the tangible results that most people desire. However, what you never hear from most PR executives is that their craft is as much art as it is science. This means that even the best in the business cannot guarantee results. It is a crap shoot on many levels...and an expensive crap shoot at that.

I had a PR person ask me for $3000 per month for a year to help promote my books. While I am very interested in working with an experienced public relations person, $36,000 is more than I can invest at this time. Additionally, there is nothing that can predict what kind of results we would have at the end of the program. There is a chance that she could bring results, but there is also a chance that we would come up short.

Why is it that there are no public relations executives who are willing to work on a sliding scale based on the results they actually produce for the client? I would be excited to partner with someone who would get a piece of the action for helping me grow my business, and be rewarded by what they accomplish. The problem with this way of doing business is two fold:

1. It is hard to quantify the exact value of PR to sales. Thus there are many clients who would never fairly compensate the PR person. The PR firm wants to insure that they are paid, thus the system exists where there is no way for the client to be guaranteed any results, yet the PR firm always gets paid. Not a bad deal if you are the PR firm.

2. Many PR campaigns fail to produce meaningful results. I know, they do not tell you this in their brochures, but sometimes competent PR executives invest a lot of time and effort, and nobody in the media cares about your product or service. Bummer, but true. Thus, again, the PR firm wants to be paid for their time, so the system exists where the client pays the bill no matter what. Not a bad deal if you are the PR firm.

I do not want to discredit Ms. Zable Fisher's points, as I agree with them.....but they are only one sided. I know many great PR folks who I wish I could afford to hire, because I know that they would produce stronger media attention than I can in my own bootstrap efforts. But for today, I am a bootstrapper!!! (I welcome any advice on doing my own PR...email with your suggestions! Or if you know someone who is just starting out in PR who wants to cut their teeth and grow up together with an aspiring author/speaker...I would welcome having a conversation!!! Fun it be to bootstrap together and see amazing results that are mutually beneficial.)

Have A Great Day.

thom
http://www.thomsinger.com/



Note: After writing the above I checked out theprsite.com (A division of Zable Fisher Public Relations). Ms. Zable Fisher has some WONDERFUL advice and resources available on this website and she is clearly an expert in the field. I do not want the above to seem like I am discrediting her, as I am impressed with what I see in her and her company. But I stand by my beliefs that PR is an expensive crap shoot that does not always produce results worthy of the money spent. If successful, it will be worth every penny, and finding the right PR executive is the most important step. Ms. Zable Fisher will help match your company's needs to a qualified firm. I have added her blog to my blogroll, as I see she has wonderful insight to anyone interested in PR.

2 comments:

Cliff Allen said...

For many years public relations programs worked well for small and mid-sized companies. Publications were willing -- even eager -- to receive press releases, story pitches, and contributed articles to fill pages.

However, starting in the mid-1990's public relations became more challenging for small and mid-sized companies. As the number of ad pages went down, so did the number of editorial pages (and the size of their staffs). This reduced the opportunities for PR people to place a story. A similar change occurred in television for a variety of reasons.

Through that period I ran a marketing, advertising, and public relations firm, so we experienced the change first hand. Fortunately for my team, the Web came along in 1995 and we shifted to exclusively helping clients with their online marketing.

Today, the majority of companies that receive frequent, ongoing coverage in the media are publicly held companies. They can afford the $10K-20K per month (or more) that it takes for a public relations firm to be really effective.

The solution for all the non-public companies is the same as it's always been -- build a good relationship with about 10 editors of the key publications that write about what you do. Send them personal notes with story ideas, some of which involve you or your company. Become a resource they can call upon when they need to know who in the industry to interview for a story. Go to lunch with them once or twice a year, such as at conferences and when you're in their city.

For executives who understand the value of relationships, this approach will fit in well with their normal network building activities -- and will produce several mutually beneficial, and long-lasting, relationships.

Thom Singer said...

Cliff-

thank you for your comment. Your points are fabulous.

thom