Why Public Relations and Publicity Don’t Sell

Public relations and publicity don’t sell because they have more to do with your ego than your business.

Brand and Direct Marketing Redux

During the 1980s, I wrote articles about unemployment projects for the Teesside Advertiser.  This was voluntary and I did it for a local church-based organisation committed to supporting the long-term unemployed.

Mostly I wrote about woodwork shops.  They were in vogue at the time with a smattering of car mechanics, food preparation and needlecrafts.  There were a few stand out projects and I remember  foremost, a course put on by a few church leaders called “Dark Holy Ground”.  A course for long-term unemployed and of all the projects I visited, with the most profound impact on their lives.  Why?  Because they based it on listening to stories.

Inspired, I wrote one of my best articles, the only one the Advertiser refused to publish!  Why?  My best guess is that it was religious.  But most of the woodwork shops were religious too.  Going deeper it was edgy.  It was not the sort of thing the Advertiser published.

When you enter the world of Public Relations and publicity, you in effect hand your marketing to someone else.  Someone who cares about their bottom line and has no time for or interest in your message.  Win an award and they’ll be on your doorstep.  That’s safe.  Tell them what the award was for and tread on dangerous ground.

It feels good to be featured in established media but it is brand marketing and many businesses that win such publicity find it does little if anything for sales.  You can spend a lot of time and money chasing publicity but it rarely generates the results you need as a business.

Publicity Tactics

  1. Can you list publications that would write about your business?
  2. Which ones would write about you in a way you can share with others?
  3. What is it about your business that would cause a reporter to take an interest?

Making Publicity Work for You

Some businesses are born publicised, some businesses achieve publicity and some businesses have publicity thrust upon them.  Assuming you have received publicity by some means (and it is good), what is the next step?

Remember this is brand marketing and so the costs in time and money have no relation to the benefit you receive.  An article in a publication will disappear from view in a matter of days.  So, the question is how you can give it a longer lifetime.

There are two dimensions to this.

First, you may be able to give an original or one-off article a greater lifetime.  If it is online, you can link to it on social media and your website.  If it is not online, you can still reference it: “As featured in …”.  You may be able to display the article somewhere, eg restaurants feature reviews in their windows.  Sometimes you see them in offices or some public space.

The other possibility is other media may take an interest once you break through.  Once you are a story, it is easier for other media to take up the story.  You may need to fan the flames.  If they are actively seeking you out, you may need to manage their interest.  Not every story is bound to be positive.

Remember when you hand over your story to others, they make it less edgy.  If you want people to talk about you, consider other forms of marketing.  Perhaps publicity ultimately results in trust and not so much in interest.

Following this twenty-fourth post to encourage coaches to reflect on relational marketing, take this opportunity to sign up below.  You get a weekly round-up of my posts and a pdf about how to make sure you are charging what your business is worth.

Click to share this post!

About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

Leave a Reply 0 comments

Leave a Reply: