I’ve pitched my story, now what?

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As a junior PR practitioner, you may find yourself at the end of this question. You’ve drafted your amazing pitch, you’ve sent it through to your senior to proof read, and you have done your due diligence to find out what your media contact’s beat is. You then send through the finalised draft as a story pitch. What now?

1.    Practice patience

Well at this point, you do the unthinkable, you simply wait it out. You practice that pesky virtue experienced seniors always talk about – patience. For just a little while, you practice patience. Depending on what kind of news media you pitched to, you’ll have to wait anywhere between two days to a full week before you get a response.

2.    The art of the follow – up

The follow – up is just, if not as important as the pitch. Once you’ve waited a little while to hear from your media contacts, you have to go back and check up on them. See this as a little reminder for them. You need to understand that journalists/ editors/ editorial teams receive countless amounts of pitches on a daily basis, each one promising to be the next best story to hit their publication. So if you show up a week later with a friendly reminder of your story, they may take a second look at it and perhaps give your story a run.

3.    Do not call the publication, I repeat do not call your media contact

It may seem like the next logical thing to do, however this is the opposite of what journalists would have you do. Journalist are always chasing deadlines, so the majority of their time is spent really on writing, submitting and editing their stories, they hardly have enough time to stop and chit chat. To be honest that is what you’d be doing by calling them up, chit chatting. They would remember your name, and dare I say deliberately block you from calling them ever again. Okay maybe they wouldn’t go to those extremes, but they would put up measures to ensure that you never pull a stunt like that ever again.

4.    Move on

You’ve waited it out, you’ve followed-up and you’ve waited on the follow-up now you move on. There is one of two reasons why you’re not getting a response, the media contact will run your story, but has chosen not to respond back to you for whatever reason, or they just won’t run your story at all. You’ve spent an enormous amount of time on this story, so it’s best to move on to something else. A new media publication, a new story, or a new project altogether. To check if your pitch was picked up, keep purchasing the publication for the next three months religiously to see if you made it. It does happen that your story may be used for a story three months down the line because the editor believes that it works better for that season.

 

Do not take it personally. Rejection as you may have come to learn is a daily resultant of working in PR. Simply move on to your next project and repeat the process, and watch yourself become a pro at pitching. The more you pitch, the more you practice and the better your failure tolerance grows. Before you know it, you’ll have your media contacts getting in touch with you asking you for any new developments from your side, personally I think that’s when you’ll know that you’re officially a pro. 

Challenges with being a PR Agency exclusively to SMEs

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I made a decision a while ago when I started my PR agency to offer my services exclusively to SMEs. It was both an altruistic and strategic business decision.  Though it provides a number of opportunities, it is definitely not without its challenges; some of which I have listed below:

 

  1. VERY tight budget

 

PR practitioners are no strangers to the idea of limited and sometimes none existent budgets, however very few of us have made and sustained a business from this method. A large percentage of my clientele consists of SMEs. The only way I sustain my business is by limiting the product offering. By offering the client more product options, at a variety of price options, I am able to still give them quality service at a price they can easily afford.

 

  1. There is an even lesser demand from editors for PR pitches

 

The sometimes shaky relationship between journalists and PR practitioners is stretched even harder with more editors vying for sponsored articles as opposed to news articles. I have found it very difficult having to go back to a client and tell them that instead of a free media placement, we might need to pay to advertise before we get a news release placed. This is something a tight budgeted client isn’t always happy to hear.

 

  1. Clients STILL expect  more from you

 

Tying in with the first point, though I do my best to offer clients products at a price range they can afford, they still demand more from me. Even in the year 2017, with PR basically dominating the headlines, there are still some clients who seem to misinterpret PR as “free marketing”. Clients will come to me with a list of demands, asking for this and that and then drop a nonsensical budget along with it. I sometimes laugh it off to stop myself from cursing.

 

  1. Digital doesn’t always mean easier

 

Yes the advancement of digital and social media have made it rather cheaper to run a campaign. However no one ever said that it would be easy. It is much harder to track ROI through digital media. There are countless apps that offer the Holy Grail but deliver only silver debilitated cups of nothing while other apps do assist in the tracking process, but require money that the client just isn’t willing to pay.

 

  1. It’s more work

 

I have found it much easier to conduct work for clients with a reasonably higher budget to spend than I do for clients with understandably lower budgets. The latter requires more creativity, more energy, more time spent on newer, more creative ways to receive reputable coverage. Though this doesn’t require much cash spend, it definitely requires more hours than billed to make the client happy. I spend more time researching newer, much more creative opportunities for my clients to receive reputable coverage than I do actually implanting any plan I have drawn up for them.

 

I know it seems like it, but I am not complaining. I enjoy the creativity that comes with serving my clients. It is incredibly rewarding to receive the kind of approval I receive from my clients; knowing how difficult it is to compete in this industry on their TIGHT budgets. It validates time and again how right I was in my decision to focus my efforts on the SME sector. I know my business will continue to grow, because the fact of the matter is that there really will never be a shortage of SMEs, and for as long as I master the creativity of this niche market, my clients will remain with me for years on end, this I know for sure.

The Pro’s and Con’s of being a Publicist in the Entertainment Industry

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The entertainment industry is undoubtedly filled with a lot of glitz and glamour. This is what draws many young and older hopefuls to its door. As with anything in life, the good is closely accompanied by the not so good, something which many aspiring publicists fail to realise. I have compiled a list of Pros and Cons to being a publicist in the entertainment industry.
Pros:
1. You are one of the very first people to either listen to or see an artist’s newest creation
2. You get first preference to all the latest product launches
3. You are privy to all the personal details artists don’t want the rest of the world to know about
4. You get to meet some of the industry’s most famous and/or infamous people
5. You get to take” selfies” with some of the industry’s most famous people
6. You always get a backstage, behind-the-scene or VIP pass
7. You get invited to the coolest parties ever
8. You get free “stuff” all the time
9. There’s always a good chance of becoming famous yourself based on your association with your clients (If that floats your boat)
10. You get to work with some of the most creative people in the world

Cons:
1. There are no off days, you are always available to your client
2. You may end up handling crisis communication cases more than anything else
3. You may need to explain the difference between artist management and publicity management a few times to your client
4. If you’re good at what you’re doing, no one will ever know who you are except your peers
5. According to your clients, they will always be newsworthy, despite what the editor says
6. You’ll play therapist more often than you’d like to admit
7. No one will take you seriously in your role as publicist, they’ll all assume you’re in it for the fame and fortune
8. It’ll be harder to convince people within the industry that you actually went to school for this career
9. Not everyone will understand your role in your clients life and career
10. You will always be expected to look uber amazing not just presentable, but AMAZING

Looking at the lists above, a PR Pro may realise that there’s not much difference between this list and being a PR Pro for any other client in any other industry. And they would be correct. Whichever way you look at it, being a PR Professional requires one to relinquish a large percentage of their time to their clients. They will always need you, you will need to be available, no matter how good it is, it is just as equally daunting and tiresome.
The only difference is that you will have to deal with the nuances of that particular industry. Working with creative’s belonging to any industry requires you to hustle. Hustle to get them in this magazine, on this blog post, in this appearance; you never stop hustling and the sooner you get that, the easier it’ll be on your expectations.

What is PR really

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PR is undoubtedly many things to many people. The focus of this article will look at what is PR to a small business owner, an independent artist and a marketing manager in a big corporate company. All three of these individuals need PR, but they need different aspects of PR altogether. Firstly let’s have a look at why a small business owner would need PR:

 

Why small business owners need PR:

 

Alright so let’s see, you are working on getting new clients, getting your finances in order, trying to figure out if you should hire help or not and. Your “to – do” list is literally arm length, I can assure you that writing your company blog or updating your social media accounts is literally last on that very long list. This is not because you don’t value your image or maintaining relations with your stakeholders, it simply means you just don’t have the time, energy and enough creative muscle to dive in to it.

Your company; no matter what size it is, needs to have some control over the perception audiences have of it. If you want people to think that you’re a company that cares about the community it operates in, you must drive the creation of that perception. If you want your audience to perceive you is a fun, young and very upbeat company, you have to create that perception yourself. The chances are, if you don’t someone whom you do not even know will do that for you.

So how should you go about doing this? Public Relations. You know you don’t have the time, energy and creative force to focus your attention on PR, so why not invest in it. Hire a PR intern to come do some time with you, have them handle your social media with your guidance. If you’ve got a little wiggle room in your budget, invest in either a professional practitioner or firm aligned with your needs and wants.

Yes price definitely matters, but do your best to conduct research before you put your company’s reputation in someone else’s hands. There truly is a PR agency or PR practitioner out there that will align with your needs and wants and budget. So take the dive and go for it. That is literally one less thing to tick off your list.

 

How about independent artists, why do you need good PR to further your career?

 

Whether you’re a fine artist who enjoys creating using your hands or a recording artist who enjoys creating using your voice, you need to focus on your art to be able to deliver the best. Yet here’s the catch, you need to make money from your talent, just like every other person utilising their talents and skill to live.

How can PR help you achieve this? In this case you need publicity. You need to generate as much “noise” as possible around your current work as possible. You need people to know that you are working on something, you need people to know that you are done working on something you need people to know. Generating attention on your work is a beautiful way to keep your audience involved in your working process. Doing this has become even easier nowadays with the advent rise of social media.

Social media management is a crucial tool for artists that don’t have the necessary budget that sponsored or signed artists have. This gives you a leverage in that you are able to create quality content and most importantly engaging content that both entices and informs your audience. In this case, a Social Media Manager is necessary. You can decide whether you want to hire a Freelancer, an intern or a PR agency. Again this decision will be informed by your budget and your needs and wants for our image.

 

Lastly why do you as a marketing manager need a PR maven on your team?

 

To be blunt, there really isn’t as much money in the marketing budget to fulfil all the marketing needs required by your director or CEO. They want so much more for so much less, and this is where your PR maven comes in to place. As you may or may not know, PR is more than capable of stretching your marketing budget to unheard of lengths. Getting R50 000 worth of marketing for FREE is literally common with PR.

Paying a PR agency or a PR Professional to do for you what your budget limits you to do, is nothing short of necessary. Who else will be able to butter up your stakeholders to pop out even more money towards your company? What about the press relations required to keep your media contacts pumped with news stories about your organisation? These are things that are necessary in ensuring that the image and brand of your company is controlled and maintained by your department, however all of which will cost an arm and a good fit leg to achieve. Invest in good PR and watch just how much bang for your money they’ll be able to get.