PR is individual

What does a PR consultant do?

In the many years that I’ve worked with companies to develop public relations plans, the number one misperception regarding PR is that it is a simple set of activities that can be done quickly, like creating one widget after another from the same die.

Just as each owner of a company, entrepreneur or executive in a corporation is an individual, so is each firm’s public relations plan. Many clients perceive that PR is fast, simple, cheap and easy. Not true. There is no cookie cutter way to implement public relations. However, there are common activities for all clients. PR done correctly these tasks are time-intensive and require one-to-one approaches.

So, just what exactly is Public Relations? Is it sending press releases to media contacts? Staging attention grabbing activities at major public gathering points? Sending product samples to celebrities?

What is Public Relations?

Public relations is the on-going, continuous building of a wave of conversation and information in the public realm or segment. Public relations, as the name says, is the development of relationships with the many audiences of an enterprise. Public relations is cumulative, long-term and carries different perceptions as opposed to advertising, which I believe PR must support. Public relations creates an environment which makes sales and marketing activities successful. In many respects, public relations is the fertilizer for the seeds sown by advertising, sales and marketing activities.

I counsel and support my clients as they seek to:

  • Be authoritative (speak about issues, teach, present, comment)
  • Be alert to opportunity; Make the news
  • Look for trends and comment on them; Be visible in the news
  • Have a blog and post weekly
  • Seek out and communicate with bloggers, forums and others talking about subjects of interest to your consumers
  • Have whitepapers on the company website so the company is positioned with authority.
  • Conduct webinars
  • Take polls and announce the results
  • Post all news releases on the company website
  • Post all news releases on searchable sites and make sure your news is in a syndicated feed
  • Post information about the company in contributed articles on sites that accept contributed articles

Specifically, public relations activities can be organized into 5 discrete sets of activities:

  1. Media relations activity
    1. Media releases
      1. Creation of media materials (formerly called press kit)
    2. Creation of storylines and pitches to gain publicity
    3. Contributed articles
    4. Creation of white papers
    5. Responding to media / journalist’s queries for experts
    6. Coaching regarding on how to be interviewed
  2. Conversation origination, participation and relationship building
    1. Customers
    2. Bloggers
    3. Forums
    4. Bulletin Boards
  3. Special events
    1. Media events (such as photo opps or interesting attention getting activities)
    2. Customer focused events
    3. Product Launches
    4. Grand openings
    5. Expos/Trade shows
    6. Conferences development, planning and organization
    7. Development of Speaking engagements/Speaker’s Bureau
  4. Reputation management
    1. Being ready with talking points on potential issues with regard to a company
    2. Keeping management apprised of issues that might effect their company
    3. Coaching management on how to conduct interviews
  5. Crisis communications

In addition, your PR consultant should assist you and your firm by creating messages, to communication touch points. A PR pro helps you learn to stay on message and keep all messages aligned to support long-term goals.

Many entrepreneurs and companies conduct their own public relations activities, however, as an entrepreneur, it is hard to develop a company and stay focused on the specifics of your PR plan.

For those who need support, we recommend you consult a communications professional to develop plans, as well as coach and guide the firm to the plan’s implementation. It’s worth your time, money and energy to plan wisely and work with a professional.

When to Send a Media Alert Rather Than a Press Release

Over the last several years I’ve written a number of times about press releases. We’ve discussed online newsrooms, and how to develop and pitch story ideas and how press releases support your pitches. But I don’t think I’ve written about the press releases’ brother, the media alert which is sometimes called a media advisory.

What and when to send a media alert

A media alert is best used to call attention to an event that has components suitable for visual media coverage. That means television, digital media like blogs and more traditional print media such as newspapers and magazines.

Media alerts can be created from some of the content used in your press release but their format is quite different. They are not press releases. They are more direct and to the point. A media alert is precise and describes for the editor what visually interesting events will happen and why the outlet might want to assign a videographer, news reporter or photographer cover it. Of special interest to media is a chronology of events taking place so they may cover the visually compelling parts of the event. Frequently television news media don’t have time to hang out for an hour, but want to capture video of the visually rich bits. So help them out by providing a schedule that allows them to dispatch a videographer to capture what they want.

The advisory also contains a list of entities participating in the photo op and the organizer’s contact information so the reporter may call to get credentials organized or get more information. It’s also helpful to include a map, directions or link to a map to help media find the event location easily.

Who should get a media advisory?

Media alerts are generally sent to television news and assignment editors or reporters covering specific beats.

You can view a great example of an online media advisory from NASA. You’ll notice how NASA is making great use of the web as a hub for their advisory. This way they can tweet, post and share the content without having to send the alert as an attachment or inline content. Media interested can use the information and access it from any location or with any device.

Click through to view an example from 2013 which we created for our client. [PDF] We invited the media to a behind the scenes rehearsal event. During the event, media were able to observe an opera rehearsal and meet performers. This event resulted in great coverage because of the event’s unique nature. Generally visual media don’t get invited “backstage.”

The other time you may want to send a media alert out is if you have a “presser” or a press conference. Generally these types of events are highly news-worthy and timely. Below you can view an image of a media advisory sent to media in advance of a press conference held years ago. You’ll note that the lead-in explains the reasons for the event and who will be there.

Media Advisory Example News Story

Information to include in your advisory

Always to be sure to explain the Ws: Who, What, When, Where, Why. And describe the event so the news editor understands why your event is worthy of coverage.


Do you have questions about when to use media alerts and advisories? Just ask below in the comments and I’ll be glad to answer.

Confidence Topic for Women and Power Series Upcoming Event

I have confidence-Julie Andrews
Click the picture to watch a video and listen to the song.

I Have Confidence!

Do you remember the song from The Sound of Music—I Have Confidence? In the movie Julie Andrews portrays Maria who sings of her growing confidence in herself as she ventures off to be a governess to the von Trapp children. I’ve often sung this to myself (yes, I LOVE musicals—especially Rogers and Hammerstein ones.) And the lyrics from it are a perfect self-talk for anyone seeking a boost.

…What will this day be like?
I wonder.
What will my future be?
I wonder.
It could be so exciting,
To be out in the world,
To be free!
My heart should be wildly rejoicing.
Oh, what’s the matter with me?
I’ve always longed for adventure,
To do the things I’ve never dared.
Now here I’m facing adventure
Then why am I so scared?…

With each step I am more certain,
Everything will turn out fine.
I have confidence,
The world can all be mine!
They’ll have to agree
I have confidence in me…

Uncertainty is always present, and recognizing this truth goes a long way to accepting a bit of stage fright or hesitancy—join it with the awareness that you get nothing if you risk nothing –and you have the source of self-encouragement.

All this is to say that many women lack confidence in themselves, their abilities and power. Confidence will be the topic of an upcoming panel discussion presented by Charleston’s Center for Women in July.

I’ve been invited to be a panelist and look forward to sharing and participating on the panel with amazing women. Won’t you join us and learn together?

Register now and get your tickets.