Public relations is a broad term. It means different things to different people. So when someone suggests that you do PR for your business, what exactly do they mean?

Did they mean you need to get published in the Globe and Mail? Become a contributing author at Huffington Post? Start announcing your company news by sending out press releases? All of the above?

When clients come to us wanting to do PR we always ask them “Why?” When a client says that they want to do PR, 99.9% of the time, PR isn’t really what they want (or need).

Ask yourself, “Why do you want to do PR?”

Here are the common responses we receive:

  • I want to increase traffic to my website
  • I want to grow my social media following and engagement
  • I want to get more speaking engagements
  • I want to become a thought-leader in my industry

Sending press releases out on the wire, batch emailing journalists or pounding the phones to pitch stories won’t necessarily accomplish these goals. Sure, these things could help (or do more damage if not done well), but simply doing these things alone won’t generate the results you want.

I wrote and distributed hundreds of press releases during my years in corporate marketing and communications roles. Our director of marketing has a PR degree and sends out press releases as requested by clients. We’ve even been referred to as a PR agency on many occasions.

But what we’ve discovered is that many clients who want to do PR, a lot of the time, actually need a content strategy that is going to raise their industry profile and ultimately help generate more clients for them.

Webinars, ebooks, blogging, email, social media and other more direct-response content-driven digital-marketing initiatives targeted to a relevant audience can do that. They are much more effective at contributing to the favourable public image of a company than a mention in a mainstream news article.

Plus, generating stories that are suitable for a mention in general media outlet is another story. Our in-house content creation specialist is a graduate from Ryerson’s prestigious Journalism program and she reiterates that unless you have a truly game-changing story that has never been told before or are revealing something new or controversial, journalists likely won’t bite.

Publishing articles on your own website that are useful to your target audience and using content distribution strategies to drive traffic to your content will probably generate more payoff and have a bigger business impact than a mention in a publication.

We’re not saying PR is dead or not to go the traditional PR route. Take a step back, ask yourself “Why?” and talk it through.

Julie Ford

About Julie Ford

Julie founded and leads Glance Marketing in downtown Toronto and has been a content marketer for more than 10 years.

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