Why One-Off PR isn’t Effective

When I talk to people about public relations, occasionally I get Veruca Salt vibes. Do you remember the little girl from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory who obstinately declared: “Don’t care how, I want it now!”? This is how I feel about one-off public relations in place of what should be a carefully crafted, long-term PR plan. Requests for one-time projects are often paired with unrealistic expectations for both the process and the result. A quick in-and-out project can be great while it lasts, but it can also have an equally quick drop-off, leaving much to be desired. In comparison, “long tail” or retainer-based public relations allows your PR firm to treat your company as a partner – not just a project.

Retainer-based public relations can be planned for months or years. Good things come with time, and when the element of time is removed, a public relations strategy cannot offer all it has to give. Here’s what one-off PR is missing out on:

  1. Getting To Know You. We want to know all about you, and we pride ourselves on our ability to speak about a client as if we’re a member of the in-house team. When we begin with a new client, the first thing we do is set up a deep dive into the company. We invest considerable resources into understanding you, your technology, and your market opportunities. Your company is unique, so even when it is within our wheelhouse, we still dedicate time and energy to knowing every facet of you specifically. This deep understanding is necessary to build the compelling stories that catch the media’s attention.
  2. Be Prepared. What’s in your press kit? Some companies believe the next big article is just a short email away. However, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work before a pitch ever makes it out the door. Take Holiday Gift Guides for example. Outlet requests for these begin as early as Summer. So, while you’re swimming, we’re thinking Santa. Getting placed in a gift guide can require photos, products and messaging, all of which need to be ready months in advance of publication (even online). Broadcast media may request b-roll, or to have a representative travel for an in-person meeting. Other media may request product samples which take time to gather, send and allow for the media to test. Media timelines are something we are intimately acquainted with and placing a story often has several complex steps before it becomes a reality.
  3. New Client, Who Dis? Our strong media relationships are part of our success. However, our relationship does not necessarily equal your relationship. The tech landscape is noisier than ever, and while expertise and relationships often get clients  in the door, coverage is never guaranteed. Public relations is a two-way street. In order to build a rapport with journalists, you must establish your company as a go-to source for credible, insightful and/or impactful news. A long-term public relations strategy allows your PR agency to maintain and grow these connections on your behalf.
  4. Follow Through. And then what happens? All of that work and effort from a one-shot story, in most cases, will simply fizzle out. The media moves on to the next big story. The next step is to do it again. Consistency is the key to keeping the momentum going. Even if your company doesn’t have product news, there are other ways to keep yourself in the forefront ofOprah Winfrey industry chatter. If you don’t, you run the risk of becoming a one hit wonder: Here today and gone tomorrow.
  5. Greater Than the Sum. PR is more than just a press release.  Blogs, review programs, thought leadership, events, analyst relations, and social media are just a few of the parts that bring together a great plan. All of this adds up to build your brand and becomes a web of information leading your target audience back to you. A great plan involves all of these moving parts to cover all media bases. You never know which hit will be the trigger for more than you expected.

When Is One-Off PR the Right Choice?

There are some situations where a quick project is effective and the right move. Examples might include resolving a crisis or perhaps helping promote and share an event. However, even these would greatly benefit from on-going efforts. In the scenario of crisis PR, having a firm with a keen understanding of your company’s messaging and business strategy as well as an existing crisis communication plan can be invaluable. One-off PR at an event might get you the splash then and there, but what happens after?

The best PR programs are built off the back of preparation, meaningful relationships and sustained momentum. These three factors are simply impossible in a one-off PR project. The continuous march of PR signifies to your customers and partners that you are a forward-looking company with vision and the plan to get there.

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