DIY or use a PR agency?

When PR was all face to face, there were people who excelled at it and people who were rubbish and they were pretty easy to spot. Those who knew how to read faces and body language, who had the gift of the gab and who could talk a product up a storm led the PR world and the others just got on with providing great services and products behind the scenes. Most companies ended up with either a deliberately procured or a de facto in house PR department and that worked very well. Online, things are rather different, with reputations sometimes ruined by a single unfortunate tweet, so unless a business has experts on its side, online PR can be a scary thing.

Brand integrity and your good name

Mending a tarnished reputation is never really a job for DIY. Hardly a day passes without a news item referring to an individual or company who has been targeted by internet trolls. For an individual it is very upsetting; for a company it can be devastating. There are ways to fix it, by making sure that the positive news on the company outweighs the negative, but this has to be done quickly and it has to be done well. Although most reputable companies can go for many years without any negative comment online, in the days of the instant review, everyone’s a critic and it is only necessary to run an eye down a list of, for example, Amazon reviews, to see that some people are just unpleasant for the sake of seeing their name (or more usually, pseudonym) in print. A professional PR expert can minimise or even circumvent any damage done to a brand’s reputation online. It takes a steady hand and an expert to achieve the right result however – too much hyperbole can have the opposite effect from that required and can make a bad position even worse.

Online is forever – or almost forever!

PR disasters of the past could be over and done in an instant. Some big news items which could have been devastating for the subject failed to have much impact because they coincided with another ‘big news day’. Not ‘bad’ news, but something which most people don’t know, is the fact that authors C S Lewis and Aldous Huxley died on the same day in November 1963; the reason no one knows is that Kennedy was shot on that day and the news coverage of that eclipsed everything else. Online, however, that fact is easy to find and so will anything bad about a company, no matter how busy the news day is. And of course, with people being able to choose what they search for, there is nowhere to hide. A good PR company can redress the balance by blogging positively and addressing any issues and this is important to make sure the good as well as the bad lives on online. This is all but impossible for an amateur to get right.

Contacts can be hard to maintain

As a businessperson, most of anyone’s time is spent growing the business and dealing with the day to day and it can seem a bit time consuming to keep up contacts with bloggers and online publishers, in other words, the very people who could help grow the business! It is a little like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, perhaps, but it is only human nature to want to deal with the most pressing matters and so it is best to leave the media contacts to professionals, who will be definition be doing it every day, for all of their clients. A good relationship with online magazines is essential to make sure your blogs, articles and press releases reach your target audiences and so it is best to leave in in expert hands. Writing the articles and releases may well be left in the hands of your in house experts – in fact for technical stuff this may be the only sensible way forward – but when it comes to placement, a professional PR expert is always the best one to manage it.

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