You tried the DIY thing and it didn’t work out so well. Now it’s time to hire a PR pro. Here are a few things you should know before signing on the dotted line.
Refill the cup of coffee, take a deep breath, and know you’re not alone.
1. No, we don’t know every journalist everywhere across the universe—not that it matters. Even journalists whose weddings we were in will turn down our pitches occasionally.
2. A good publicist doesn’t have to be based in New York or Los Angeles to be effective. Ever heard of this crazy thing called email?
3. Few things actually warrant a press release …
4. … And a creative PR professional can still brainstorm ways to achieve your goals without one.
5. Stop insisting we call the media. Most of them hate this and specifically request we contact them exclusively via email.
6. PR is not free advertising. PR is not free (or cheap), period.
7. Don’t ask us to pitch an idea and then not be available for an interview. If you want the press, we need you to be ready to talk to the media at a moment’s notice.
8. What matters most to you may be totally irrelevant to a journalist. Remember that it’s what they—not you—think is important that matters in the end.
9. Publicists cannot control the end product. It is unethical for us to ask, to see, or to proof a copy of the story beforehand, or to dictate what the reporter can and can’t say. Doing so will backfire—trust me.
10. Social media is more than Facebook and Twitter.
11. If you insist on running all tweets and posts past your legal department, don’t expect results from your social media strategy.
12. If a journalist says he or she is not interested in a story, that person means it. Reaching out again will further annoy the reporter and guarantee you’ll be ignored the next time.
13. Don’t measure your PR results in ad equivalency rates. Do you want to know you had $500,000 of ad equivalent value in negative press, or would you rather know 80 percent of the press you received was positive in tone and accurate in its messages?
14. No, we’re not writing any more “…pleased to announce…” ledes.
15. Ditto for “We’re so excited/thrilled/happy” CEO quotes. Pretend you’re explaining the story to a friend over drinks, and then give us that quote.
16. There’s no need for a logo and boilerplate for anyone who so much as breathed in a room where the project was discussed.
17. PR is a process. You know who hits it big overnight with a story on the “Today” show? Criminals, naughty celebrities, and shark-attack victims. Do you want to be one of them?
18. You can’t “make” something go viral. That’s why it’s called “going viral.”
19. An ethical PR pro is not a spin doctor. Do not ask us to lie, spin the truth, evade the press, or hide your dirty laundry.
20. We love you. You’re our favorite client. You’re the only one we work on all day.
Elizabeth Friedland is a senior public relations manager at Bandy Carroll Hellige in Indianapolis. She also blogs for Talent Zoo Media, where a version of this story first appeared. This story ran on PR Daily in December 2011.