Tanusree Gupta and Tirtha Pratim Banerjee are the co-founders and Partners of Brancon Communication. While Tanusree comes with an extensive PR experience, Tirtha comes from a computer application background. The duo found their calling in creating 360-degree communication strategies for corporates. They co-founded Brancon Communication in 2019 to enable corporates to gain optimum media and digital visibility through unmatched communication strategies in Public Relations, Digital Marketing, Social Media, Website development, etc.
We must all be familiar with the phrase “Out of sight, out of mind”. Today we live in a world where if you are “out of sight then you are out of mind”. Every business wants to be the talk of the town. When a customer is planning to buy a product or a service, the appropriate brand names should click in their mind. To achieve this, brand visibility plays a vital role in creating brand awareness and brand recall amongst the target audience. But these days customers are smart and cautious and do not rely completely on what advertisements portray, they rather believe stronger if it comes from more reliable and authentic sources; and what can be more authentic than media and influencers. Among the other promotional or branding tools like Advertising and Marketing, Public Relations (PR) has become an indispensable branding tool for companies to create a long-lasting impact in the minds of the audience. The key is to increase optimum brand visibility with the right communication strategies and here comes the role of a PR agency to incorporate the right communication in place and create the buzz.
We all know that every business has its secret that they do not reveal to their clients and the PR agencies are no exception. Initially, when PR agencies pitch for a client, they discuss a lot of factors that will be beneficial for the company and set high expectations. But many PR agencies initially fail to inform the clients about certain constraints to acquire or retain clients. This in turn often leads to a communication gap between the agencies and their clients. Let us shed some light on some of the facts which PR agencies swiftly ignore at the beginning to gain the client’s trust.
Promised Choice of Media
When a company hires a PR agency, it is common that the expectation will be to get featured in the top publications as they begin with the PR service. But what companies fail to understand and many PR agencies do not enlighten the client while approaching is that it may take time to get placed in top tier media depending on several factors related to the company or/and the communication plan they have. Often, many agencies generally promise media exposure in these leading publications without informing the clients that these media do not publish everything they request for. The editorial policy of every publication is different, and they are very selective and reject the stories plenty of time if the news does not meet their editorial standards. Since the client’s expectation is extremely high and, in many cases, unrealistic, PR agencies often omit these details and promise them that they will try in various ways to get them optimum media exposure. The agencies start working with them and then make the client understand gradually how to proceed to get optimum media coverage.
The Seed of PR Reaps Fruit in Long-Term
Since companies tend to expect a return on investment as soon as they start spending their budget on branding and promotional activities, they expect similar quick ROI from PR services. However, the case with PR is not the same as with advertising and marketing. PR is a seed that will give fruit in the long run and it is the responsibility of the PR agency to help their clients understand this fact. But unfortunately, due to the immensely competitive market, PR agencies generally mask this fact from the clients at the beginning.
Not Every Story Is PR Worthy
If not all, few agencies are unwilling to inform clients bluntly that every information cannot be used as a PR story, there are certain factors (written/unwritten) that should be considered. While dealing with clients, we have seen that there are clients who may or may not have prior PR experience and feel that anything can be published in the media if the agencies have the right contacts, which is far from the truth. There are a lot of cases where the stories that PR agencies pitch to the media get rejected instantly due to the non-existent news value. This situation can be avoided if clients and PR agencies have frequent meetings and have a mutually agreed communication plan in place.
Media Houses Are Not Owned by PR Companies
While it is true that a good PR agency should have good and right media contacts but that never denotes the fact that the PR person can manipulate the journalists or editor of the publications. A good PR professional will certainly use its network to leverage benefits for its clients, but that doesn’t necessarily signify that PR can control the size or format of any story that is being published nor we have a say if any story gets rejected.
Initially, many PR agencies give a vibe to gain the client’s confidence that they have a good influence over media houses, and clients assume that the agencies can easily manipulate media houses. Let’s take the current situation as an example. When all the media houses are focusing majorly on the COVID19 pandemic, and all the companies with the help of their PR agencies are trying to come up with effective communication plans to fit the bill. However, not all companies can make it to their desired list of publications as the publications have their own set of criteria to select stories from this vast sea. Failing to get featured in the desired media might lead to doubts in the PR agency’s competence among clients, who have the preconceived notion that PR professionals can control whatever goes in the media. It is thus, important for the agency to be transparent and have clear communication with the clients and set a clear idea about how media functions.
Choose but Not Restrict
While planning for media meets and conferences, most of the times, clients expect the hall to be filled with top tier media representatives, across print, digital and electronic. However, what most PR agencies often miss to inform their clients is the nuances of conducting a successful media/press conference. Unless it is a restricted or selected media meeting, it is advisable to not limit the media presence as long as they are relevant. Therefore, it is particularly important that the PR partners sensitize the clients of the benefits of having a wider media presence, irrespective of how big they are.
These are some of the facts that might lead to unforeseen situations and create a rift between clients and the PR agency. This can be avoided with clear and transparent communication. Although, these may not necessarily hold true for all PR organizations. However, there might always be a never-ending line of unrealistic expectations coming from clients, the above gaps, and miscommunications can easily be avoided with a proper sensitization of PR and media with the clients. The agencies will have to work on building trust and reliable relationship with clients and not take refuge to conceal facts and kindling their unrealistic expectations and whims. Therefore, in this competitive market, it is necessary to strike a balance so that clients get a fair idea but still have the zeal to go ahead with the plans.