Two Business “Mistakes” Every Company Should Make
The following article first appeared in my regular column at Forbes.com:
Normally, I’m a fairly agreeable person – but the recent article Seven Business Mistakes Serial Entrepreneurs Never Make Twice by Forbes contributor John Greathouse, gave me pause. Two of the seven “mistakes” John names are actually strategic weapons I’d suggest every company–especially in its early and growth stages–consider strongly.
First “Mistake”: Rely On A Public Relations Agency
“Mistake” Rationale: I am not an expert in public relations (PR). Thus, I will hire a firm that has the appropriate expertise and industry contacts.
John notes that typical PR firms value their relationships with media gatekeepers more than their relationship with any single account, which causes even the most earnest third-party PR professional to champion your message in a measured and pedestrian way. As soon as they encounter resistance from media they will relent, he maintains, in order to protect their long-term relationships.
Conversely, John notes that if you conduct PR in-house, you will not be so easily deterred.
I must disagree! To John’s defense, he’s described a scenario that’s all too typical in the PR agency world.
Yes, a PR agency’s relationships with reporters and editors are helpful. But it’s the agency’s communications strategy and their ability to execute on that strategy that a company needs even more. For example, look at Ken Krogue’s article on The Death Of SEO: The Rise of Social PR and Real Content, which generated nearly 300 comments (he’s now also issued Part 2.)
The science of communications is evolving rapidly. Meaningful PR requires quality content, shared and leveraged in the ways that are most applicable to engage your customers and audience. This is not something a company can accomplish without at least some degree of specialized help. Yes, a PR agency’s connections are helpful (sometimes even vital). But in the new world of business, PR and communications goes far beyond the process of generating news and securing coverage. (Note: As disclosure, as the head of a PR agency—Snapp Conner PR—this is an area where I hold a certain amount of personal bias as well.)
Strong PR content (that your company develops and that your agency helps you to secure in the press) is the high octane gasoline smart businesses are using to pour on top of the social media and SEO fire for lead generations and sales.
Your agency or specialized consulting counterparts should be helping you to use communications as a strategic weapon for business. Check references. Find out who within an agency would be handling your business, and be sure they carry the same passion and fire for your company’s story that you do. At the first sign of an agent or an agency giving your company pedestrian service, you should run in the other direction…
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