When To Do It Yourself And When To Call In the PR Pros
Every homeowner faces these sorts of situations sooner or later – and usually sooner.

A bathroom faucet is leaking. An electrical outlet is dead. The washing machine stopped in mid wash.
Hmmm, you say to yourself as you rummage through your toolbox. Should I put on my handyman hat and handle this repair as a do-it-yourself project, or is it time to call in a professional?

It’s a legitimate question – and one that also can be asked when it comes to public relations.

Indeed, just like with the plumbing or the electricity, there are some PR jobs you might ably pull off yourself. Many others, though, are best left to those who make a living at it.

Just as examples, here are three DIY steps you can take for PR without (I’m fairly certain) any fear of flooding the bathroom.

  • Social media. You can set up your social media profiles – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites – that can be used to circulate your message and promote your brand. Then you’ll want to mine those networks to their best advantage the way a professional would.
  • Using relationships. If you already have relationships with local media in your community, you may be able to leverage them to land news coverage of yourself or your company. Such relationships are great to have, but you still need to convince them that you have something worthwhile to offer their readers, listeners or viewers. (More on that in a moment.)
  • Define your difference. Perhaps the thing you can do best on your own is define your area of expertise and zero in on what sets you apart from your peers. What’s unique about your background or your expertise that could intrigue the media and inspire them to call you over someone else? Establishing what’s unique about you can be a significant part of your public relations campaign.

So, see? There are things you can do yourself to gain publicity and tell your story.

But as you also can see, those DIY possibilities can only take you so far.

Let me get back to that relationship situation I mentioned earlier to give you an example of what I mean. This is an old story, but it bears repeating.

One of EMSI’s former clients was Robert “Bud” McFarlane, a national security advisor under President Ronald Reagan, who had published his memoir.

Because of his time in Washington, McFarlane had developed close personal relationships with big-hitter media types, such as Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer and Connie Chung. It seemed a no-brainer that we would be able to make use of those relationships to land major media exposure to promote his book.

But it didn’t necessarily work out that way.

We received a call one day from an apologetic Walters. She asked us to share with “Bud” that although she wanted to interview him, her producers just didn’t feel it was a good fit. They vetoed the interview, so McFarlane’s “in” with Walters became irrelevant.

In that case, neither McFarlane’s background nor his relationship with Walters mattered. The network powers that be wanted to know, “What’s in it for our viewers?” They decided “nothing” – or at least not enough.

The story does come with a happy ending. With Walters out of the picture, we landed an interview for McFarlane on “60 Minutes,” which was an even better deal. His interview became the segment they aired to help celebrate a big anniversary they were having and that they heavily promoted.

Still, it remains a cautionary tale, showing that even a good relationship with the media won’t open doors if you can’t convince them that you have a captivating tale to tell or essential advice to offer their audience.

That’s where professional help comes in.

PR professionals serve the media every day so they understand that the key to success is figuring out what you can do for the media – not what the media can do for you!

For instance, at EMSI, we are viewed as content providers for the media. We provide them with articles for their publications and expert sources to interview for their shows through our News & Experts division.

As a result, media contacts see us as a resource, someone they can call when they are on deadline, knowing that we have a track record of assisting them with their needs.

So it’s just like with the plumber and just like with the electrician. Sometimes nothing beats professional help.

Isn’t that handy?
Marsha

P.S. If you want the assistance of public relations professionals, give us a call at 727-443-7115 ext. 215 or get your Free Media Analysis Here!

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