Time and again I’ve run into entrepreneurs who are avidly seeking representation for publicity. These savvy entrepreneurs realize that exposure to the masses is a necessity for success in business but have convinced themselves that they require the services of a skilled professional -ergo a publicist, to get the job done effectively. Two publicity campaigns and thousands of dollars later a little light bulb goes off in their head bringing them to the realization, with all things considered (regarding the unsavory results of their pr campaigns), that they could’ve done the pr strong-arming on their own. And you know what — they are absolutely right!
Which brings me to the question at hand – why pay someone to get publicity for you when you can get it on your own? Let me further add to the question, the following phrase: yielding similar or better results. So the publicity issue on the table now reads as follows – why should you hire a publicist when you can get similar or better results by putting together your own publicity campaign?
A publicist is a well paid middleman. I call ’em as I see ’em! Honestly speaking, I can make this assessment because I am a former publicist. Every client that I’d ever worked for in the past wanted the same thing – instant notoriety in the public eye. That kind of overnight, any-publicity-is-good-publicity crackerjack-fame-in-a-box campaign should be avoided at all costs because the first rule of thumb in publicity is that nothing is guaranteed. Additionally, the end result of a crackerjack pr campaign is damaged credibility for the publicity seeker. Ethically a publicist should never condone such a service but you’d be surprised what people will say or do when money is involved.
In a nutshell, the job of a publicist is to get you (the entrepreneur) exposure in the right places so that you can reach your niche consumer. They do this by going through their handy dandy rolodex of editors, journalists, photographers and ghost writers and draft up an enticing press kit in which they use to sell you, your product, service or company to editors of publications that reach your desired audience. You are charged a sizable fee up front to retain publicity services which never guarantee mass exposure to your niche. Throughout the pr campaign a la carte publicity services may be offered to you such as writing or editing (tweaking) your press materials. Your company profile, one page personal biography, and fact sheet will be refurbished, and you will be charged for that service. Additionally, as the client you will be highly encouraged to partake in media training (which is when your publicist preps you on how to present and handle yourself while being interviewed – this training also shows you how to maintain control over the scope of the interview.) You will be charged for this service as well. Mailing press kits, phone calls with editors, lunch meetings with journalists, sending emails and faxes, yes you will be charged for all of this as well – it comes out of your retainer and it’s done to ensure that a few articles – notice the word few – will be written about you, your product, company and/or service.
The volume of publicity is dependent upon two things: first, are you sellable. This simply means can the publicist pitch you effectively to the media and will they be interested in what you have to offer. Second is the network of editors, and journalists (which includes print, online, TV and radio mediums) that the publicist has access to. You can sell just about anything to anyone, the same goes with pitching a story idea, which is why you can do your own publicity. Additionally, your publicist may be able to get you into certain publications because of the relationship that they’ve built with an editor, but you can build your own relationships with the media based on your expertise in your field. If you decide to save a little money and do your own publicity, you could probably make more noise than a publicist because the passion that you have for your endeavors will shine through in your press materials and pitch letters/phone calls. As long as you handle your publicity campaign with tact and integrity everything will fall into place. So do yourself a favor and save your money because with all things considered initially you can handle publicity effectively on your own.
Until next time, cheers and here’s to your success!