Tips by Mark
Lamendola, who works with PR agencies all the time
Tips for working with press releases and PR agencies:
- Magazines and other media aren't going to focus on
your world. They are going to focus on the needs of their audiences.
- A good press release serves the needs of the
reader. Thus, it explains how you solve a problem and what benefits you
bring. It's not about you--it's about them.
- Press releases need to be short and to the point. A
good PR firm will "write tight" and produce short copy that is free of
hyperbole. Don't think you're getting a better deal if you get 5 pages
instead of 400 words. Don't expect (or condone) blurbs about how great you
are or how wonderful your company is.
- Nobody cares about who your company president is, how hard you work, etc. Readers do care if you can do something for
- Every message must be targeted to a particular
audience, and provide a focused message that appeals to that audience.
Services a PR firm typically provides:
Press release consultation. What is
your message, who is your audience, and what publications do you want to
Press release writing. Most people
greatly overestimate their writing ability, while being completely
oblivious to the nuances of effective writing. Don't micromanage the PR
Media relations coaching. Your PR firm
should know the media pertinent to your market. Let them guide you into
making the best use of your contact with these media. A small error on
your part can cause doors to slam in your face.
Campaign project management. Your PR
firm will plan, execute, and track a media campaign. Ask for reports, but
don't try to "save money" by working in parallel with them. If you want to
save money, ask the PR firm what legwork you can do. Explain your
budgetary issues, and ask for workable solutions.
What not to do
Don't demand your "money's worth" in the form of long
copy. When I was an editor, I would get 800 word product releases even
though our guidelines limited those to 100 words. So, those long
releases go tossed without being read. Why did PR firms send us these?
Because their clients objected to "paying good money for a small product
release." The PR firms did what their clients demanded, even though it
was exactly the thing not to do. Bigger is not better.
Don't insist on specific things to be in your releases
(product, press, etc.). Let the PR firm conform to the publication's
guidelines, or you are simply wasting your money and their talent.
Don't send a PR firm inflated information. This will
only result in failed ad copy. Instead, carefully review your text for
accuracy and relevance. Remove all hype.
Don't make frequent changes. This will send your PR
campaign into an expensive tailspin.
Don't micromanage. You hired a PR firm. Let them do
Don't modify the ad copy. Many people fancy themselves
great writers, despite the fact their grasp of Standard Written English
is measurably poor. You do your job, and let the PR firm do theirs.
Don't run parallel campaigns of your own. Instead,
coordinate everything with your PR firm. If you ignore this tip, you
will probably sink both campaigns.
What not to expect
Miracles. A PR firm can't make a silk purse out of a
Instant riches. Publicity takes time to be effective.
Constant attention. You aren't the only client. If you
act as though you are, the PR firm will have no choice but to lower the
quality of service you receive and/or bill you for the extra time you
are costing them.
Automatic inclusion in the publications of our choice.
Editors of these publications decide who gets in. PR firms do not. All a
PR firm can do is provide the editors with what those editors want and
then hope for the best. This doesn't mean it's a crapshoot--editors are
very picky about what they will even consider, so a good PR firm is
essential to passing that first hurdle.