Public Relations is a very difficult business. It’s a business that is hard to measure; people pay us a monthly retainer in the hopes we will produce results. It’s tough.
There’s been recent news of ABC firing 5 percent of their staff, and Bloomberg, for the first time ever, cutting 100 jobs, on top of daily reports of publications folding and editorial staff being consolidated. For us, that means that we need to pitch media much longer to get the right person on the phone. It means we have to spend a lot more time explaining to clients why their segment was cancelled or their filmed interview was postponed (less staff to interview/film). There’s simply more confusion in the news room, with less staff to cover the same amount of news (the news isn’t stopping).
It’s a tough business, and it’s certainly not getting any easier. Here are a few quick (free) top-line suggestions:
Write shorter and more to the point pitch letters to reach the media.
Include quotes in your releases and pitch letters which can be plugged into news stories (not self-serving)
As a PR firm, offer multiple experts and try to say yes as often as possible. For example, this week a producer needed three experts for a story and we had two clients immediately available. In order to make the segment work, we did the legwork and had a competing friendly PR firm find the third expert for us. We presented it as a package to the producer – all available with one call, back to back scheduled interviews. We effectively eliminated the back and forth time that would happen with three different PR people.
Be flexible with your schedule – the media only has so many cameras and so many reporters on staff right now. If you wait in a newsroom (as I did, unexpectedly, this week for an hour), have your blackberry/laptop with you and prepare to be working.
Be media trained – to the point, easy to understand and quotable.
Make more phone calls than before. Many Reporters & Producers are reading less email since the emails from laid off editorial staff are forwarded to the inboxes of the people still employed.
Oh, the joys of a NY PR agency.
Ronn is the CEO of 5WPR and author of best selling PR book, For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations, and a regular contributor to Fox News, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Insights Wired, Everything-PR and more.