I’ve talked with many people who often believe one of two extremes. 1) A publicist is very valuable to work with, but expensive. 2) A publicist rarely accomplishes anything notable and is a big money pit.
What if there was a publicist that didn’t cost an arm and a leg, and accomplished something valuable that pushes your organization forward?
Here are three things to do when you hire a PR firm or publicist to handle your organization’s image.
1. Outline Deliverables
It’s easy to enter an elusive arrangement with a PR firm. Of course, it often must be this way due to the nature of the work. Dealing with people is ambiguous at best, but it shouldn’t stop you from having concrete deliverables laid out.
I suggest you have clear deliverables outlined. For example, ask that the contract state objectives such as to increase social media reach by 20%, increase email open rate by 10%, and increase website traffic by 8%. This sort of PR is measurable and there are actual deliverables—hard numbers that don’t lie. Obviously, there are a multitude of mechanisms that enable this growth, but it needs to be stated to ensure everyone is on the same page and appropriate actions are taken to achieve the goals.
2. Adjust Expectations
While it’s completely reasonable to state deliverables in terms of platforms you control (social media, email marketing, website), it’s unreasonable to state your expectation to have article placement in a major publication (e.g. The New York Times, The Guardian).
I wish press/media relations were that simple—stating an objective, hiring a publicist, and seeing the article appear. Unfortunately, this is far from the reality.
Depending on your news story, it might be worthy of The New York Times. But often, they won’t publish.
It’s not a value judgment, it’s the harsh reality of arts coverage today due to many factors.
I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been in where the client wants placement at “X” major publication. I get it! It’s a pinnacle of journalism and mark of credibility. But if you work in the arts, or an artist yourself, you need to be aware of the reality—press placement for the arts in major publications is few and far between.
Of course, I’ve had success placing articles in major publications. It’s from this work on behalf of clients that I quickly learned you should have realistic expectations when considering press placement.
Fortunately, there are many news outlets that will happily publish when you have a strong story pitch. But it’s not just the story pitch that counts. Organizations need to start thinking like a media company.
3. Publish Content Like You Are the Media
The power is with the people these days. You don’t have to wait for the press to say you’re great. You have a website, social media, email list, and so many other platforms. USE THEM. Strategically place content on these platforms that shape how others perceive you.
Work with a publicist or PR firm that will help you create content. If anything, organizations need to start hiring PR firms for content creation services—not press placement.
This is the new PR. And it’s the most valuable, yet measurable objective when hiring a music PR firm. Content strategically created and launched on an organization’s platforms is measurable. It’s a win-win solution and likely the only solution as arts PR continues to radically depart from what we previously knew (i.e. press placement).
So, go out and secure a publicist who can help you. Define your deliverables, adjust your expectations when it comes to press placement, and hire a firm that provides content creation.