Whenever I find myself with a little extra time, I try to stay up on industry news. Whether it is something controversial involving one of the airlines or some advice on how to promote businesses on Snapchat, I have found it beneficial to stay on top of what is considered relevant in the world of public relations and marketing.
One of those articles I ran across recently talked about the reasons businesses can’t rely on inexperienced amateurs to handle their PR needs. The article talked about an attorney who asked some questions about PR and then moved forward with the intention of handling the PR work without hiring a professional.
I can tell you as an experienced PR professional, the article could not have hit the nail on the head any better. I consistently run into people who think they can do just what the attorney in the article did – handle social media management or media relations on their own.
The article named five legitimate reasons why business owners shouldn’t consider doing their own PR in today’s world. The first was rejection, which is something that most people outside the business don’t realize happens as often as it does. A press release might go out to 50 media outlets with just a handful showing even the slightest interest in running it as news. Business owners always believe stronger in their PR pitch than does the media and it is the role of the PR professional to find a way to make it attractive. Otherwise, the media will see it as free advertising and that is not how the media stays in business.
Writing is something that I have done pretty much my entire life and my peers have said I do it well. This is probably the one reason most people know they can’t do PR on their own, but most of those who do it anyway fail to realize how important this part is. As a journalist, I can assure you that I could tell the difference between a professionally-written press release and one that was put together by the owner of a small business. Whether it is the excessive use of exclamation points or typos or grammatical errors, media pitches that aren’t written by a PR professional typically find a spot in the bottom of the trash.
Social media failures were the third reason the article focused on, and they do have some similarities to rejection by the media. Social media fails, however, have an even greater sting given that they routinely involve friends of the business. For small businesses, the followers of a company social media page tend to be employees, friends and family members. So, if your company is attempting to grow via social media and those closest to you aren’t responding, it can be difficult to understand. A PR professional is concerned only with growing the outreach and isn’t disturbed by a lack of interest. Business owners shouldn’t sweat the small stuff and leave that to the professionals.
The fourth reason for hiring a PR professional is the access to contacts. Having worked in the media gives me an advantage over many in public relations, several of whom went directly into PR out of college. Even many of those former media members who went into PR have such a distant relationship with the media that it isn’t beneficial for their clients. For those who are like me, however, it is a huge bonus for the client. By maintaining relationships throughout the years, I know I will always have open doors when it comes to pitching the media for stories. I don’t burn bridges and that always has a chance to pay off.
The final reason the article gave for not doing PR on your own was outside perspective, which is significant. As I mentioned earlier, business owners think their company can do no wrong. I remember one business asking us to pitch the expansion of their company to a new location in a city near the metro area. As a PR professional, I know the best they are going to hope for is a business page brief and maybe a community newspaper mention somewhere outside the front page. No TV. No radio. No front page of a major daily. But it takes an outside perspective to make sure the business owner knows they don’t have more there than actually exists.
So, it should be clear that doing it on your own isn’t an option. Not if you want your business to grow. I wouldn’t try to represent myself in court and an attorney shouldn’t try to do their own PR. It is so simple, I’m surprised the PR industry has to keep reminding people.