How PR Works: What You May Not Realize When Measuring PR Success
Any publicist in the midst of a PR campaign for a client has probably asked him- or herself this question: “Is my PR working?” And for a client who’s invested their money in your services, they’re probably asking the same question. Sometimes as publicists, we forget how PR works.
Evaluating a PR campaign based on sales or rate of return is all too typical. But here’s the thing: PR doesn’t work like that; it’s a long-term investment. As a publicist you know this already, but does your client? Sometimes you have to paint a picture for the client about what to expect. You have to make it clear that PR — when done right — will increase awareness of their product, service, book or expertise, to their target audience. And sorry, this doesn’t mean skyrocketing sales right away.
We’ve all heard that it takes seven touches before a person will buy something. They have to be exposed to your client’s product multiple times, whether through ads, word of mouth, a sales call or media placements, before they purchase. Well, PR is the most cost-effective — and brilliant — way to get these exposures.
You have to make it clear to your client — and sometimes to yourself — what PR does that no other marketing can do: That is, build your client’s credibility, making it easy to gain the trust of their target audience. If you’re grabbing the attention of the media and find that your client is being used as an expert source in articles, being interviewed on radio shows, etc., then you’re doing your job. It’s simple: If the media is interested in your client, then the public is too. The sales will come; everyone just needs to be patient and keep doing what they’re doing.
On the other hand, if the media isn’t interested in your client and you find yourself frustrated for the lack of response, whatever you do, don’t give up. It takes time to land those placements. The main thrust of the PR campaign should be building and sustaining relationships with the media. And just like any healthy relationship, it’s going to take some time to get there.
It’s really important to go over your pitches and your client’s message. Are they simple, clear and concise? If not, make some tweaks and get back out there. Deliver your message in a way that an 8-year-old would get it. And I always suggest tying pitches to current events and breaking news when you can. The media climate is always changing so you have to stay on top of the news and adjust your pitches accordingly. The key to building quality relationships with the media is to give them what they want in an easy, accessible way. Make sure your pitches do that.
Are you sending out multiple pitches for your client — making the necessary tweaks to land your client the media coverage they deserve? Cover all the bases and communicate with your client as much as you need. Remember, you’re not working for your client; you’re working with them. Make them take an active part in the campaign! If you have an idea or want to tweak your client’s branding or message, by all means communicate your desire to do so.