The Value of PR

Having spent 25+ years in news reporting, anchoring and management, the intersection between my industry and public relations was a daily occurrence.

I appreciated PR for several reasons. Probably the most important of which was looking at it as yet another source for news, knowing the ultimate editorial decision was up to me and/or my news staff. These stories would have to go through our filter so that all sides were covered.

The truly professional PR operators understand the various media they contact and each one’s specific news requirements. Rather than pestering newsrooms with story ideas, they use their relationships to get to know, understand and learn about each news operation and their audiences. Armed with this knowledge, they’re usually going to succeed more often in getting a story idea in print or on the air (and, yes, online). And they both understand and respect the fact news departments vet the stories brought to them.

For the PR person, this process is called media relations. They, in effect, are “selling” stories to the media. I quickly learned who were the skilled purveyors and who were not.

Today, the avenues of access for public relations practitioners to get stories accepted are virtually unlimited. It seems every conceivable interest area is covered, especially on the Internet, yet new interest areas crop up regularly. The well-versed PR person intimately knows and understands the media in the news market(s) they deal with.

Also, the proliferation of talk programming and all the topics that covers has exponentially widened the range of opportunities. Good content is king. Great PR practitioners typically recognize great angle opportunities for their clients.

So, that’s the perspective of the public relations associate vis-à-vis news and talk.

The other side of that coin is just how PR relates to you, if you have a  business and/or represent expertise in an interest area. You definitely need to consider engaging PR support.

Public relations has distinct advantages over advertising. First, it’s more cost-effective.  Just as importantly, in a news environment you have much more credibility. People realize advertising is an environment of marketing and controlled messages. In news you should expect to go through an editorial filter, including questioning.

But, don’t believe you can just “wing it.” You owe it to yourself and your business to be prepared. You need to have a good focus on your audiences and what you want them to understand (your key messages). The time and investment you make to do this media training has definite, and often invaluable, positive ROI.

And one more caution: The Internet has led to more “interviews” being conducted through email. This path robs you of the most important skills of persuasion through your body language and the verbal passion in delivering messages.

Email has its place, like a written statement. But it seems to me it’s now being overused as a lazy exercise.

My advice, the old methods still serve you best. Talk to your interviewer. Create a human connection and begin building a positive relationship.