What’s the right time to hire a PR Consultant?

By Pallavi Walia|10th Jan 2012
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By Pallavi WaliaRemember our bakery Wholesome from the previous article? It has now started the operations. What is still left to figure out is the marketing and PR strategy that it will follow. Have you noticed how smartly Google places its ads even as you view your mails? In most cases, the ads are based on the key words in the mail you are reading. Your product should have similar recall value with your clients, prospective business associates, employees, partners etc. Which, in our case, means:

  • Best melt in mouth cookies = Wholesome
  • Creative packaging = Wholesome
  • Best Deli in town to work with and source breads from = Wholesome

There is always a creator to ideate and put together a product and a team to take it to the next level. Similarly, you need to identify and take on board a professional to handle the PR & Communication role for your brand. It is important to have a dedicated budget to execute the promotional campaign (media & non media). You don’t compromise with the quality you offer in your services/brand then why haggle while hiring a professional or an agency? Don’t bargain like you would with a vegetable vendor. Instead, be a smart buyer. Understand your requirement, pick-up a service provider who meets your requirement or is in sync with your mindset and get going.

Taking on an agency or a consultant might be on the agenda but always squished much below on the priority list. As PR professionals, often we come across clients who approach us a week prior to an event or a launch asking for a strategy. Some of these clients have been in the market for a few years and have either been sustaining without a PR team or worked with agencies that didn’t yield desired results and hence have acquired a much underrated impression of how PR spells its magic. Add to it the fact that most clients assume that they know it all and the media would work as per their instructions and thus give no flexibility.

If only it worked that way! You don’t want to be one of those clients that I am talking about. Ideally, engage with a PR professional one month before you want to kick start the PR campaign. This allows for a sufficient ‘get to know each other’ time. Your PR consultant needs to be a part of your business set up to understand and deliver. Treating them as a third party never works. Be comfortable sharing and trusting them with the critical ‘inside’ information. And remember, conversations convert into ideas. Be involved with the consultant in:

·      Brain storming sessions

·      Creating PR bank

·      Press material

·      Putting up a strategy (annual or quarterly)

·      Developing ideas/content

·      Identifying requirements

·      Soft launches to get feedbacks, close loop holes, get over teething troubles

Another mistake that clients make is to insist on press conferences. Avoid doing that. They are such a clichéd old concept. Unless you have big numbers to share or a ‘Nano’ like product to launch, press conferences are a bad idea. One-on-one media interactions, tailor made pitches result in better stories.

Also remember that the role of a PR professional is not limited to media strategizing for your brand; it also extends to advising you on various facets. So, take your PR consultant’s views on all important business related decisions.

Your product reflects your attitude in everything. Ensure that your staff is well trained; they speak the same language as you do and keep it simple yet communicative. If your product category allows, create quirky offerings like Wholesome did with ‘chocolate badges’, marshmallow/jujubes flower bouquet, etc. Or if you have a restaurant, instead of giving a fortune cookie after the meal, offer a thank you written on biscotti.

Wondering why a PR professional is giving suggestions? I say, why not? I want my client’s product to be successful. Our roles extend in everything which is related to creativity, branding, product designing, et al.

Fact Check: Media relations don’t develop overnight, they have to be nurtured over a long period. Don’t over-rule a journalist’s opinion by pushing yours. Allow the journalist to put together a story the way he wants to and not the way you like it. Here, a big no-no is making your PR consultant request a journalist to share the final draft of the story before publishing it. It will clearly offend the journalist even if he/she is your ‘best friend’ because it means you don’t trust him/her. It might result in a bad story or a no story.

For any PR related queries, startups feel free to reach out to contact@yourstory.in

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