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PR Advice

Carolyn Bercovitz

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I asked two PR-related questions:

  1. We've had a PR firm on retainer for three months, with the following results: They made one round of pitches for an article, with no response, and have three media releases waiting to go out, pending our approval. Is this level of service reasonable and can anyone provide guidelines for what can reasonably be expected?
  2. Can anyone provide feedback, pro or con, about Broadcast Interview Source, the PR Newswire, or anything comparable or better?

(from Carolyn: We talked with our PR firm, and found out that they are doing more than we had realized.)

-- Jim Donovan

1. Personally, I find this absurd. I've worked with clients who hired the best in the business and did not get much more result so maybe it's "normal."

You might want to get something from your PR firm that specifies what they will do for how much. It really has a lot to do with what you're promoting. I've heard good things about Kate Bandos and like that she has an a la carte service.

2. Is Broadcast Interview the same as Radio TV Interview Report?

They seem to be effective IF you can sustain the ad for several issues. Again it depends on what you're selling.

PR Newswire, in my opinion, has way too many releases and costs way too much for what it delivers. Unless you're a big name or have something really unusual, you can get lost in the shuffle. If you want a less expensive alternative to them, try PR Web. It has options between free and several tiers of payments. I've gotten a result there for as little as $20, compared to the $500 at PR Newswire. The release itself is more important than the distribution service you use.

John Kremer, one of the better book marketers, suggests you compile your own "Top 100" media list for your marketplace and feed it every month. Great advice.

-- Lamar Morgan

Have you tried PRWeb.com? It actually has a free service. Of course, the paid version has more "bells and whistles" to it.

Also, have you tried adding a little "citizen journalism" in terms of writing your own press releases through GetLocalNews.com? What is interesting about this service is that it allows you to write and post your own articles for free. The articles show up on the front-page as the lead article of an actual online newspaper. But, that is not all. You can be the advertiser of that page for a full month with a display ad for a very reasonable fee. But, that is not all. You can change that ad at any time during the month for no additional fee. But, that is not all. The display ad is actually a link. So, when the ad is clicked, the viewer is transported to your business web site. Now, that's not just cost-effective, but clever.

-- Kristie Tamsevicius

The best do-it-yourself PR resources I can recommend are RTIR (Radio TV Interview and Report) and PRLeads.com. RTIR is widely read by radio show producers, you post an ad with your picture, your topic, your talking points, and how to reach you. I got a lot of radio interviews when I purchased an ad there during my 12 city national book promotion tour (see the awesome coverage I generated here).

PRLeads.com is a service that let's you know when magazine, newspaper, and major media editors are doing a story on a topic in your area of expertise. You can get daily fresh PR leads. You simply reply to the reporters on the ones that seem right for you. I would recommend both highly! Then finally, for the hard core do it yourselfer, RadioPublicity.com by Alex Carroll will teach you how to plan your own national radio tour, do awesome interviews, and even give you a database with all the radio producers contact information so you can pitch them. But, it's a lot of work to do this yourself, so you have to consider if you have the time and dedication...

-- Leslie Charles

I have no idea how much you paid your PR firm but that doesn't sound like much to me. I worked with a PR firm in NYC and they created my entire press kit. First pass, they got me on CBS this morning, Bloomberg radio, Redbook, and numerous high profile newspapers.

Five of the articles went out on the wire, so they kept recycling - cool! This exposure led to other stuff, including Fox & Friends, NBC later today, and WNYC (NPR station) plus a bunch of other radio spots.

I was supposed to work with them for 3 to 5 months but it ended up longer than that cause they loved me so much. Many months after our contract was finished, they contacted me with a "better late than never" and I ended up in a Living section article that got promoted to the front page of USA Today. That stirred more interest, including ABC Lifetime Live, Morning Blend on MSNBC, Extra! News Magazine, and more. My investment with this firm was $15,000. I ended up with 4 years of media coverage - the last year it was very light, but oh well. So there are firms out there who will really work for you and all you have to do is be a nice person.

-- Marc Woolf

It might be worth contacting Joan Stewart at www.publicityhound.com for info and answers to your questions.

-- Jeffrey Dobkin

You never mentioned your cost for the service so it's tough to evaluate them. However, no response = no value. I prefer printed pitches preceded by phone.

-- Padi Selwyn

Not knowing the level of service you are paying for (e.g., how many hours per month the firm is devoting to your account), it's hard to say, but PR takes time. Three months is just getting started. Sometimes it can take several months to see any results. The important thing is that the firm comes up with good ideas and is persistent about pitching them. It can often take multiple calls to a media outlet to get a story placed. It took me about a year to get a client a major feature story in a national trade pub read by all her prospects and customers -- but well worth it (priceless, actually) when it appeared. If you have confidence in the firm, and their refs were good (hopefully you checked their refs before hiring them), hang in there and be patient. If they've got a good track record and are responsive to you, it's just a matter of time.

-- Patti Hathaway

I have never hired a PR firm but did use the Broadcast Interview Source for a year (with no success). I've used Dan Janal's PRLeads for about 3 years with fabulous success. Just in the last 2 years, I've been quoted in the NY Times, Harvard Management Update, Professional Insurances Agents, Canadian Business, and many others. My main interest is print articles because I send them to my Top 100 Client list on a monthly basis and put them in my promo packets. The cost is low ($995/year) and you only receive interview inquiries based your interests and expertise. It's the best money I've invested in my speaking business. For that fee, you also can attend several teleseminars for free.

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