When is it Time to Hire a Publicist?
One of the most exciting things about starting a blog, brand or business is seeing your creativity and work on the pages of a magazine. There’s nothing quite as magical and gratifying for an entrepreneur as receiving national media attention about something you spent a tremendous amount of time, energy, money and passion bringing to life. BUT... many bloggers and brands make the mistake of hiring a publicist too soon, which ends up causing frustration among both parties (not to mention burning through thousands in monthly retainer fees).
If you are a brand or blogger thinking about hiring PR support, it’s important to first make a distinction between PR and publicity.
Public relations expertise can be valuable at every step of brand management. A clear understanding of media trends and building a strong brand foundation with your audience is crucial, and very much make up a lot of a full-service PR agency. However, if you are primarily seeking press coverage and event attendance and not the overall management, you are looking to hire just one aspect of PR.
If you are only looking for media coverage, publicity is the last step of your process.
Starting a successful blog/ brand is a business. I know this myself first hand because not only am I a publicist who owns a PR agency, but I am also a blogger who has turned my blog into a profitable business. I totally understand both sides of the coin, which is truly unique in the PR world and is why I am so passionate about sharing my knowledge with all of you! :)
And just like any business, you need to have a well-laid out strategic plan in place before you ever spend one dollar (if you follow me on my Instagram you know I say this all....the....time!) Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case when it comes to bloggers, both new and seasoned.
Several months ago, an enthusiastic and talented blogger with a strong social media platform and beautiful branded content approached me for PR. I was assured that she had everything in place and was ready to rock.
However, once I started presenting her with media and event opportunities, she wasn’t able to come through. Not long after she sent me her information to formulate the press kit and I started to firm up some interest in my pitching, she wasn't able to comply with deadlines and confirmations, as her schedule was all over the place.
We started missing out on solid opportunities and potential brand deals.
When editors called to see what her schedule looked like for to meet for lunches and start building the "relationship", we had nothing to offer. And when brands asked for something "tangible" to be sent, we couldn’t because she didn't have anything to show for other than her past campaigns and social media page; which unfortunately isn't enough to gauge media interest.
I did encourage my client to try and clear her schedule (and to stop saying YES to everything that came her way) to allow for these opportunities to reveal themselves, but I quickly learned she did not, in fact, have the infrastructure of a good business plan to back up my outreach. I felt awful for her, but knew that both parties were very clear on the strategy that was needed for a successful campaign, and her brand just wasn't able to follow through at that time.
These days, when any blogger or entrepreneur reaches out so me for media/ event outreach, I always make sure they have the following list of items in place.
8 Must Haves Before Hiring a Publicist
In short, enthusiasm in business is awesome. It’s why we do this. Your passion is what got you here and it will oftentimes be the element that drives your success. But when it comes to publicity, misplaced enthusiasm can work against you. Before you bring on a publicist, make sure you have the infrastructure behind it to support the campaign you’re about to embark upon. Remember, you have to have something tangible for a publicist to work with, and just "having a blog" or "a strong following" is not enough to make an impact. If that is what you have in the drivers seat, you will just be wasting your hard earned money. And wasting your income is somethingI would never want to see happen.
Ultimately, being your OWN publicist is what matters the most. No one knows your blog or brand better than you, no matter how fancy the PR firm may seem or how A-List the publicist may be. You've been savvy enough to get to this point in your brand, and you are definitely worthy of truly shining. It's just about truly understanding your brand, message and audience. Once you know how to (really) tap in to that -- you will be a PR dream :)