Ah – Spring! That time of year when we roll up our sleeves, take stock of our accumulated clutter, and commit to the task of getting better organized. Obviously this would be a less daunting exercise if we simply kept our house in order all the time and ready to entertain guests at a moment’s notice.
Could your in-house PR plan pass the same test of readiness?
Whether you’re an author, entrepreneur or nonprofit, getting – and staying – prepared for a call from the media is job #1.
This blog comes on the heels of a perplexing – and poorly conceived – response to an offer I’d recently made to a small business owner who also happened to be a personal friend. In these tough economic times, I knew that she and her staff were struggling to stay afloat and, further, she couldn’t afford the expertise of a PR firm to help with shout-outs about the products and services she provided. “Tell you what,” I said, “if you can provide me with the answers to a few interview questions along with a great photograph to accompany the article, I can get the story out there within two weeks.”
She was appreciative and effusive in her enthusiasm and promised that she’d put all of her energy into the questionnaire on her upcoming days off. Time passed. When I followed up to see what was accounting for the delay, she replied, “You know, I’m way too tired on my days off to spend them doing any work but maybe I can throw something together for you by the end of next month.”
Throw something together?
In my mind, this prompts three disturbing questions. The first is whether she felt it wasn’t necessary to treat the offer that seriously because it was coming from someone she knew, someone who could say, “Oh, there, there. Really, it’s all right. Take your time. And when you get back to me, I’ll just drop everything else I’m doing.” Secondly, was there some naiveté in play which led her to think that media opportunities come along like busses every ten minutes? If so, why are they not regularly making stops outside her front door? Thirdly – and perhaps the most alarming – how can anyone who has run their own business for more than 24 hours not have a press kit available in case someone requests it? There should be no mad scramble to assemble clips, get testimonials, compose snappy quotes, or grab a digital camera.
Sadly, though, this slapdash mindset isn’t uncommon, particularly with small business owners who either never expect to garner media attention or fail to understand that press deadlines aren’t fluid.
For future reference, they’d be wise to take a page from HR specialists who recommend keeping your resume up-to-date. Even if you’re happy as a clam in your current job and have no plans to leave, a dream opportunity with a short window could suddenly present itself. Such was my own experience many years ago when I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen for a while. She was lunching with a colleague who let it drop she had a position to fill and was dreading the upcoming process of advertising it, then interviewing candidates. By the time she returned to her office, there was a fax waiting for her: my resume. Not only did I get the job but I also met my first husband, started an acting company, and was able to return to college.
If being prepared can produce that magnitude of life-changing fortune, imagine what could happen to your business if you’re prepared when media opportunities knock?
Here’s the lineup of this month’s blogs by my guest contributors:
Spring Cleaning Your Email Inbox – by Erika Taylor Montgomery
Adapting Entertainment Publicity Techniques to Your Situation – by Steve Thompson
7 Reasons Why Businesses Hold Their Event in Las Vegas – by Melissa Page
Brand-Building Basics – by R. Travis Shortt
Using a P.R. Strategy to Gain Great Inbound Links – by Thomas Farley