By Linda S. Alexander, President
Alexander Marketing Corp.
I am always amazed at how little is known about the role of public relations in helping businesses grow.
Unlike Ab Fab’s homicidal narcissist Edina Monsoon or Sex in the City’s never-at-the-office Samantha Jones, public relations consultants are really the nuts and bolts behind so many notable personalities and brands.
It’s a profession that requires a lot of hard work, long hours and dedication. But you can say that about our clients, too.
One of the biggest differences between PR folks and other marketing professionals is that by definition, we’re news junkies.
To do this job well, there has to be a passion for reading newspapers, magazines, blogs, social media and web-based publications. We thrive on watching and listening to news broadcasts that provide information about the world and what may be pertinent to the people and businesses we represent.
One of the best parts of this job is that we get to work with really smart people in media, including reporters, editors, writers and producers.
If we do our jobs right, we serve as partners who help them develop newsworthy stories. We follow up with resources, provide accurate data, important details and set up the interviews with our clients that support media with their stories.
A publicist is a communicator. We listen and learn about the people and companies we represent, and we spread the word about their achievements.
My firm’s practice centers on all aspects of the real estate industry, so our narratives are often about development, architecture, interior design, investment, property ownership, management, acquisitions and dispositions, contracts, leases and sales.
To garner the right publicity, we work on multiple platforms to communicate our clients’ stories and news, including print, online and broadcast media and social media.
Today, there are so many ways to get out good stories about good work. Plus, in addition to publicity, there are opportunities for speaking engagements and events that showcase clients’ expertise and, just as importantly, their personalities.
I often think of us as corporate “background singers.” We ensure the pitch is perfect in the message and clear enough to make sure our clients’ stars shine.
Despite the fact that we live in a media-centric world with 24-hour access to news, there are still many sophisticated professionals who are unaware of the synergy between public relations and successful businesses.
Granted, it’s difficult to determine an ROI on a quote in a New York Times story or, for that matter, how well a fabulous profile in Real Estate Weekly will translate into more business.
There’s rarely immediate gratification in one story; benefits accumulate with consistent coverage.
Yet for those who rely on publicists to communicate a desired brand narrative, or to announce current projects, there is a confidence that this part of the marketing platform is indispensable.
Here’s another way to look at the impact of PR: whenever someone is quoted in a news story, that person is instantly identified as an expert.
Even if you don’t agree with a certain point of view, the person being quoted is still considered a valued resource.
At any time, in any field, there are dozens of experts with opinions and knowledge. But the person who is quoted is perceived as the most knowledgeable.
Those who are experienced with the PR process also realize that a quote, reference, profile, etc. in the media, also communicates the subject has been successful enough to have a publicist.
“Success begets success” is probably the closest way of defining PR analytics. You can measure “likes” on Facebook, “connections” on LinkedIn and “followers” on Twitter, but publicity is still the most credible brand identification.