If you have ever had the misfortune of employing the kind of PR consultant that many of us have endured, you would be running away from anyone with that title as fast as you can with your wallet firmly clamped in the deepest recesses of your pocket, bag or more appropriately in your booby trapped safe back at home. Highly combustible expense accounts, exorbitant monthly retainer fees, extravagant PR events, and publicity stunts that would make the most extrovert of us cringe in horror. These are some of the terrifying pre-requisites to getting some decent press coverage which can at times produce somewhat elusive results. At least that is what they used to tell us but thankfully the industry has been changing in recent years.
Celebrity status has meant that we live in a world of extremes and the idea of being in the limelight for some of us is not what we are about. Some love the exhibitionist side of getting into the press meaning that our egos get a good polishing. Others of us just get on with what we know best – make our products, manage day to day activities and if we are particularly reclusive we would rather do it all behind closed doors hidden away from the prying eyes of the nosey outside world.
Culturally the British are notoriously humble and reserved about selling themselves and I’m afraid that to get the best out of our businesses this it definitely not to our advantage. We fear people who are particularly upfront, judging them as being arrogant rather than being confident in what they are about. Risking being shot for sticking our heads above the parapet is another reason why some people prefer to keep themselves hidden in the shadows. As seemingly ‘virtuous’ as this may be, it does not get the job done and in actual fact we have a duty and an obligation to educate the customer. Using our relationship with the press is an ideal tool to achieve this. It is not arrogance, it is about a truthful conviction in the value of the products or services you have on offer. The customer craves knowledge as this makes his life much more enjoyable and far less stressful.
If someone was selling a drug or a machine that we knew would undoubtedly saves millions of lives, we would not dream of hesitating in shouting about it from the roof tops as loudly as we can. If we have a valuable product or service, and if we truly believe in its worth, then others too are going to appreciate the impact that it might have on them. So it is up to us to inform them of the facts.
Think about this too – if you don’t tell the press and the public about how good your products are, then someone else will beat you to it. Worse still they may not be as ethical, honourable and reliable as you are, and the quality of products inferior. If the customer knows no different then they are going to choose the competition, be let down, lose money and more importantly lose faith in your industry which will be detrimental to your future sales.
Whilst this is probably not the case in many instances, we do have to get out there and tell the world about our work. If you still find it difficult to get out there and strut your stuff then perhaps approaching it differently might help. Try changing the mindset from thinking "I can’t possibly brag and boast about how great I am", to "I have a product that I believe in for x number of reasons which are…….. I have an obligation to show other people how their lives can be improved by using it."
In conclusion, good PR is not necessarily concerned with how loudly you can shout from the roof tops or what strangely weird and wonderful your stunts can be but more which roof tops are the closest to the audience you seek and which words you use. More importantly it is about how much heart there is behind the words you use, integrity of product, innovation and remaining true to your own path.