Last week, we stumbled on an Inc. article titled “Three Reasons Not to Hire a Publicist,” written by Elle Kaplan, a finance expert, self-made entrepreneur and the CEO and Founding Partner of Lexion Capital Management. She was told to hire a PR firm before the launch of Lexion Capital and proceeded to meet with two publicists that were referred to her. The first publicist gave her no guarantees, had a one-year contract for $60,000 and scoffed at her for being a powerful, intelligent woman in the finance industry. The second public relations agent presented a non-negotiable contract as well as ridiculous $1,500 per-segment royalties.
Needless to say, Elle was not interested in hiring either of these publicists and instead, she took on the role herself.
Because of her negative experience with two public relations agents, Elle feels that handling PR internally works better than hiring a firm. She believes that there are three reasons a person should not hire a publicist, and her reasoning is as follows:
- No one can share your story better than you can.
- “Do you really need to pay handsomely to have your story filtered through a third party and hope that he or she can get these points across with both accuracy and passion?”
- Anyone can brand himself or herself; there’s no need for an agency to do this for you.
- “Through the Internet and social networking, we are more interconnected than ever, and running a business is more and more DIY-friendly.”
- Treating reporters as to how you’d want to be treated will bring press opportunities.
- “If you position yourself as a helpful and easy-to-reach source, reporters will call on you again and you will generate press mentions pretty much effortlessly.”
Though every person and company is different, based on what we have seen in the industry for many years, we would like discuss why we believe you should hire a publicist:
- When actively involved and invested in every aspect of a company, people typically cannot accurately share their story with others.
- Yes, you probably know your business better than anyone else, but you’re also probably more emotionally invested in it than anyone else. With that said, your views most likely differ from the general publics’. It takes a neutral third party, like a PR firm, to be able to share a company’s story in a way that will be interesting and make sense to the majority of people.
- CEOs usually don’t know the best way to brand themselves, nor do they have the time to do so.
- Although social media does make it easier to run a business in some aspects, it also takes a lot of time to successfully keep up with sites that are ever-changing such as Facebook and Twitter. Not only does it take countless hours to create and maintain a positive online image, but understanding the best way to position your brand and measure its value on social media platforms is challenging. Creating a brand isn’t as easy as sending a few tweets a day, it requires planning on the back end and a tactful execution.
- Being friendly and making yourself available won’t get you on the front page of a newspaper.
- While the concept of ‘effortlessly’ gaining press coverage as the result of being helpful and easy-to-reach is lovely, it’s simply not true. Yes, you should always be kind to reporters and anyone you come into contact with in the work place, but it requires an interesting, innovative or exciting brand/person/concept to make news. If your company is newsworthy, you will receive calls. Being accurate and responsive will be beneficial, but what about the months where nothing spectacular is happening? You can’t idly wait by the phone with a smile on your face and expect a call, you have to be creative, create a story and make a call yourself.
There’s no denying that handling public relations or marketing internally can save you money, but it will most definitely cost you a lot of time and energy. The public relations agencies Elle encountered when she was starting her business are the types that give the entire industry a bad reputation. Many public relations agencies (including ours) serve as advocates for clients. We truly want our clients to succeed, and believe in their brands. We want them to reach their goals and have a positive presence in the community. High quality public relations practices can be useful to both a client and their brand.