Truth or Consequences
by Helene Smith
Haste Makes Waste: In PR, You Earn Attention Over Time
Do Not Hire a Communications Firm Less than 2 Months Before a Major Event! A major event can refer to a tradeshow, conference, or a product, service, or company launch.
If you think you’ll enjoy international fame and corresponding sales because you’ve gone to the trouble of “showing up” — and issuing a press release saying you’ve done so — you will be sorry. Earning attention takes time and effort.
To obtain minimally-sufficient, ongoing coverage of your product or service, you need to give a qualified consultant or agency at least two months to get to know you and your products. At that point they should be able to thoroughly explain the merits of those products or services via written materials and one-to-one communications with reporters, analysts, bloggers, and anyone else known to “spread the word”.
This external resource needs to know at least as much as your senior sales people. They need to know the good and the bad – all of it – so they can help you fix problems and make you and your company able to withstand scrutiny – especially in advance of major milestones (events or launches). Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can keep any negatives under your hat. We’ve all read about, or witnessed, unfortunate and embarrassing exposure of incidents that could have been pre-empted.
Let me reiterate: This resource has to truly get to know the inside of the company, people and products so that they may discern what is important and worth sharing; and also have enough knowledge of your company and its environment to anticipate attacks, whether they are valid or not. A good communications consultant armed with complete information about your company, its products, competitors, and “word on the street” intelligence will provide counsel so that you don’t give anyone valid reason to attack.
So what is the “you’ll be sorry”, mentioned above, about? It’s about establishing credibility and earning mindshare. You will not enjoy these privileges by coming out once or twice a year with a press release, and having expectations of coverage in print or online. Behaving this way is tacky, at best; and insulting, at worst. You’ll build resentment among the people who may be equally, or more, important than your customers in insuring your longevity.
Spend time finding a great communications firm that doesn’t “yes” you; but instead questions you and your colleagues to get to the heart of your strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Answer their questions and give them what they need to do their work, all year long. And then be prepared for some killer ROI.