DIY Public Relations – a disaster in the making

This year, we signed a client in the retail sector with a small but growing national presence. It’s a great business, has loyal customers and excellent product. At our first meeting, the owner lamented the fact that when he contacted journalists they fobbed him off and that their media releases never got a run. He also said they were struggling to develop a stronger dialogue with their clients. I sympathised with him, but to be honest I wasn’t surprised. When I got hold of them, his media statements were poorly written, too long and not written to the style of the publications he was targeting. He was (and is) a busy man, but thought that he could achieve what he wanted by doing it himself. What he didn’t see is that he wanted to achieve high end results; increased brand awareness, targeted media coverage which he hoped would translate into more sales, but was hopelessly ill-equipped to do so. Before coming to us, he’d been slogging away on his own, with no strategic approach, no media contacts, no expertise, and no idea. It’s like giving the accounts to someone in the business who can’t add up.

Get the picture? Okay, so let’s look at another example. This client came to us four years ago. He was (and remains) one of the leading lights of the industry he is in, only now his success is no longer a secret. His business consistently outperforms his competitors in accepted industry benchmarks. At that time, he had a staff of around 80 people and a growing number of franchised offices. Problem was, no one had a clue who he was. As business owner, our client is a brilliant strategic thinker, a specialist in his field and a very savvy businessman. He was not however, gifted in the field of strategic communication and PR. To give him credit, he came to this realisation a lot sooner than most. As a result, he went from being the most successful industry nobody in his field, to being a sought after commentator whose business is featured in industry and general news press every other week. Why? He was wise enough to recognise he couldn’t do it himself.  Importantly, he was also prepared to put resource the work adequately.

Now before you point out that it’s in my interest to push this barrow, consider this; take a moment to think about how many successful, really successful businesses utilise specialist, external help with their pr and strategic positioning. I’d be willing to wager most of them do. And also consider this. Just because you can’t quantify an immediate return on the balance sheet doesn’t mean the investment in specialist advice isn’t working for you. This kind of work is strategic, in other words, results are typically not overnight.