When a client comes to me for public relations services, they may get turned away.
Why, you might ask, in this business-starved environment, would I actually turn away business?
It all boils down to measuring the success rate of a PR program. To me, the success is not about getting ink. The success is in whether MY public relations and marketing guidance from strategy to implementation, has succeeded in helping a company meet its goals. If a business is not yet ready to handle, process, sell, or fulfill, getting the buzz out on the product or service is simply putting the cart before the horse.
A well-executed PR plan involves working with the overall marketing and business plan - to propel a company forward, to support its mission which may involve calling attention to its services, products and personnel, but only when the company is ready to deliver.
Timing is everything. I'll never forget supporting a client through a trade show, only to find out that the Associated Press article touting the company's product was frustrating consumers - who told me, "We read about it - but where is it available? We couldn't find it ANYWHERE and we wanted to buy it!" The article, targeting consumers, was premature, as this company had not yet brought its product to distributors and brokers. But they wanted P.R. Well, since then, I've learned to tell my clients, who may be chomping at the bit to see ink--"not yet!"
When should you hold off on P.R.?
- When your product is not yet available online or in stores. If you are selling online, you must make sure your fulfillment operations are ready to handle whatever comes your way.
- When your website is not ready for prime time. That means if you are doing ecommerce, your site should be easy to navigate and ready to handle the orders. It also means your search engine optimization capabilities should be tweaked to put your product wherever it needs to be seen, and your site should be a new (not stale-looking), integrated site - complete with interactive features (i.e., blogs, social media share links, etc.) to announce news and draw the search engine spiders.
- When your product is not yet complete - it can be manufactured in a less costly fashion and is costing you more than it should to produce, or it needs some tweaking at the recipe level. Yes, the impulse to put it out there for all to see and to generate immediate sales is tempting - but wait until you have your production process finessed. You only get ONE chance to launch a product and if it isn't what it should be, your PR will suffer in the end.
- When your marketing plan is not solid. PR starts with strategy. Strategy falls under the overall marketing umbrella. If you haven't plotted out how PR is going to work with other marketing techniques, advertising, promotions and such, your PR is not likely to support your efforts. If there are disagreements among your decision-makers as to marketing and messaging strategy, first iron out your disagreements, then map out a plan, THEN put your marketing plan into effect.