A Good PR Consultant Needs to Understand Business

PAN Media

This post is courtesy of Sara Benwell and was originally posted on the Huffington Post.

November 13, 2012

Once upon a time, the public relations business was relatively straightforward. You developed a campaign, then sold it into the media. The game was about maximizing coverage and many believed that quantity rather than quality was what mattered. Fortunately, those days are largely gone. Most companies now understand that not all publicity is good publicity. With more businesses fighting for less space in the press and fatigue amongst the media when it comes to PR pitches -- it's more important than ever to make sure that your outreach cuts through the chatter and results in that all important coverage.

In the PR industry, we often face a frustrating battle between what a client wants to release to the media and what we know that journalists will consider newsworthy. As consultants, it is our role to become trusted advisers who can look at the story a business wants to tell and find ways make it relevant to the news agenda.

All too often, I hear journalists complaining on Twitter about uninspiring, formulaic press releases -- which should and could have been avoided. Sometimes the trick is putting the news into context, sometimes it's about changing the format, and often it's about telling the story in a different way. Essentially, as the media consolidates, PR consultants need to find the link between what's interesting to the audience and delivering the right business messages.

This is why understanding business is crucial. With any new client you should first sit down and have a messaging session. In doing so, you can understand their business and precisely what story they are hoping to tell. This means that with any announcement or news story, you can evaluate it and make sure that it is in line with business objectives. Also, it means that instead of putting out boring press releases, you can take the news you are given and look for ways to put it in the context of the wider story. It is also important to keep on top of the news cycle to make sure that you are putting out relevant content that journalists want to use.

If you don't understand the business properly then you have no way of pulling a news story apart and reassembling it in an interesting manner which still achieves what your clients want.

Continue reading at the Huffington Post...

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