“There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” This popular quote, often attributed to showman and businessman P.T. Barnum, is not entirely true, unless your only objective is notoriety. Although most business owners would agree that visibility and brand recognition are common goals, they also strive to maintain a positive public reputation. Essentially, not all news is good news. Keep reading to learn why your business needs public relations…for the good news, the bad news and everything in between.
You have good news
And, you want to share it…but how and with whom? While paid advertising is an excellent way to share your message with your target demographic, the communication is one-sided and not necessarily viewed as credible. Public relations is often incorrectly referred to as “free advertising,” but that definition could not be further from the truth. PR professionals work with editors and producers to help generate editorial content for their publications and TV shows. Earned editorial placements are much more credible than paid advertisements because the product or service is given third-party validation. Although editorial coverage is never guaranteed, a good PR professional is in constant contact with members of the media, understands what is newsworthy and knows how to deliver a well-timed, thoughtful and targeted pitch.
At The James Agency (TJA), we know that our clients each have unique stories to share and we have the relationships and PR expertise necessary to help them gain valuable and strategic earned media coverage for their good news. Check out our media hits here.
You have bad news
Unfortunately, you might not always have positive news to share. Every company is vulnerable to crises, some industries more than others. In the event of a crisis, scandal or even an unfavorable customer review, your reputation could be put on the line. If you do not react strategically to the issue at hand, the situation can spiral out of control, further damaging your company’s reputation…sometimes beyond repair. Your PR agency should be adept at creating a crisis communications plan. Crisis communications is essentially the opposite of traditional public relations – instead of working to earn media coverage for something positive, your PR agency will prepare a strategy to mitigate negative media coverage. One of the strongest tactics to regain control of a potentially negative situation is to release a public statement to the media. By responding quickly, taking ownership of the problem and offering a timely resolution, you can help manage the message received by the public and maintain your company’s reputation.
For example, when TJA’s client Z’Tejas recently faced bankruptcy proceedings and an impending sale, our PR team recommended a proactive approach and issued a statement to local news and business media. By taking ownership of the situation and reacting in a transparent and honest manner, Z’Tejas was able to reassure its loyal customers that the brand is not going anywhere and will in fact benefit from financial restructuring.
You don’t have any news
Or, so you think. It’s fairly easy to generate news about a brand-new product or service, but maintaining ongoing interest can be challenging for any business owner. The job of a PR agency is to help you find interesting and newsworthy angles to share, even when news is slow. In some cases, clients do not realize that they have stories worth sharing because they are too close to their business to see the unique angles. Your PR agency can provide beneficial knowledge of trending topics and an impartial perspective to help you uncover newsworthy items. They also can help you brainstorm new ideas and promotions to help your business gain positive media attention.
For instance, The James Agency worked with local Phoenix taco restaurant Taco Guild to launch its new restaurant concept in 2013. Two years after its grand opening, it was definitely time to find new angles to pitch to the press. TJA worked with Taco Guild to create a unique promotion – Irish tacos for St. Patrick’s Day. The promotion garnered major media attention, both locally and nationally.
You’re hosting an event
If you’re going to the time and expense of holding a special event, you want to ensure that you’re not just throwing a party for the sake of having a party. Your event should be strategic, well-planned and help accomplish your business goals by exposing the right group of people to your brand or service. From developing the initial event strategy to planning and day-of event management, your PR agency will ensure that your event is organized, well-attended and impactful.
TJA worked with Downtown Phoenix condominium project Portland on the Park on a year-long PR campaign. Two special events were used to commemorate important milestones in the property’s development – a kick-off event and a groundbreaking ceremony and reception. For each event, TJA designed and distributed invitations, managed RSVPs, coordinated VIP and public official attendance, negotiated catering and beverage partner contracts, coordinated event rentals, décor and managed all day-of event logistics. As a result of strategic planning and detailed event management, both events surpassed attendance goals, earned impressive media coverage and ultimately helped Portland on the Park accomplish its goal of selling 20% of condos in three months time.
You want to be known as an expert in your field
Your PR agency can help you accomplish this goal in a number of ways. Identifying and pursuing speaking engagements are a great way to share your expertise with your target audience. Additionally, since your PR agency is in constant contact with members of the media, they can recommend you as an expert source for news stories pertaining to your field or area of expertise. From speechwriting to drafting talking points to conducting formal media training for on-air appearances, your PR agency will ensure that you’re well prepared for any opportunity.
Finally, a fantastic way to gain credibility and recognition in your industry is by winning an award. Your PR agency should be knowledgeable about awards and honors available in your market and industry, be aware of the deadlines and be experienced in writing award-winning nominations. Check out the Awards section of the TJA website.
You want to make a connection
Successful PR agencies not only have a large rolodex of media contacts, they have connections across a wide range of industries and throughout the community. PR is all about relationship building. Whether you’re interested in forming a strategic partnership with a neighboring business or making a donation to a local charity organization, your PR agency will have the contacts necessary to help you make that connection.
Pei Wei, the national fast-casual Asian restaurant, sought the public relations services of TJA to help concept and promote a cause-related initiative in Phoenix, the restaurant’s home base. TJA identified that September is Hunger Action month and recommended that Pei Wei become the title sponsor of St. Mary’s Food Bank’s month-long hunger awareness campaign. Additionally, TJA facilitated a partnership with a local Title I elementary school in Phoenix for Pei Wei to donate meals to students on “Go Orange Day” to kick off Hunger Action Month. The initiative resulted in more than 4 million total earned media impressions and established valuable local connections for the national brand.
Ultimately, the goal of all business owners is to make impactful and lasting connections with their customers and their community, resulting in sales. The Public Relations Society of America, the world’s largest and foremost organization of public relations professionals, defines PR as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
Through earned media coverage, special events, public speaking engagements, award nominations, strategic partnerships and cause-related initiatives, your PR agency will help you establish connections and build the relationships needed to accomplish your business goals.
Amy Aust | Public Relations Representative