In a recent blog post by a PR firm, their primary research determined that the top three reasons a company’s PR efforts fail are:
1. The budget was too small
2. The client had no significant point of differentiation from their competitors
3. The client or their contacts weren’t available or were uncooperative
I’m sure whether you’re a PR or marketing firm or a client, you’re able to identify with at least one of these situations.
Kudos for Bridge Buzz for their valuable research and articulating the problems.
Here’s what my team does to try and avoid these situations (with the caveat that PR is not foolproof and sometimes efforts fail):
1. We warn the client upfront that there is only so much we can do for any particular budget. If they want a particular result, and they are not budgeted for it, we state that upfront and clearly. In some cases we have the client sign off on the statement to make sure that when the effort “fails” they understand that they contributed to their own failure.
2. We tell the client immediately if their story is newsworthy and how newsworthy it is. We perform our customer-focused primary research which gets all representatives of the customer stakeholders into a room at once and we find out what messages will be successful for all of them. The issues of value proposition and competitive differentiation can be solved in the research as well. The bottom line of customer-focused market research and marketing is that the messaging speaks to the customer in their own words which will have an immediate emotional impact on them. I have never seen it not work.
3. In Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing (pp 63-64) we talk about a local hospital that hired a PR firm to get press. The firm convinced a feature editor of a large local paper to write a story that focused on this organization. The PR person told the marketing person to be on the alert for a call from the paper. The editor called the manager repeatedly. The manager never returned the calls. Guess what? The PR firm had done such a good job of selling the story, that the editor ran the story anyway, only he featured the hospital’s largest competitor because that marketing person made themselves available. So here’s a perfect example of shooting yourself in the foot by paying for PR for the other company.