I had an opportunity to speak to a group of Southeastern University public relations majors recently about event planning and publicity.
The element of publicity that I find myself going over most implicitly with clients is that of managing expectations. It’s quite flattering how clients assume that PR professionals have some secret “in” with media outlets and can simply make things happen when it comes to generating publicity for a particular business, event or product launch.
The truth is, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. PR professionals can write press releases, draft story pitches, make follow-up calls. But at the end of the day, this is a subjective business where stories are decided upon by producers, editors and reporters who may or may not be remotely interested in the item PR professionals are pushing that particular day.
Public relations is a constant push to generate publicity for a client, while making sure the client remembers that unless they purchase an advertisement, there is no guarantee the media will cover the story being pitched.
A fellow PR pro and I were discussing this topic a few days ago and the whole horse-and-water phrase was mentioned. Pot-stirrer that she is, she piped up with “You know, you CAN make a horse drink.”
“Oh really… do tell,” I replied.
“Give him a salt block,” she said.
She’s right! So how do we relate that back to publicity and PR, you ask?
A good public relations professional must find a way to make each client salt. Our clients and the items we promote on their behalf must be the salt that gets those subjective reporters, editors and producers to drink the water.
So when you have an event, product- whatever you’re promoting- try to think of what about it is different. Interesting. Notable. Worthy of coverage.
Sometimes you have a seemingly boring event or product that still needs to be promoted. In those cases, try to find something interesting in current events and popular culture that you can tie in to generate publicity.
If you need help brainstorming ideas, or you have those ideas but have no idea how to pitch them to media outlets, we can help.