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Exploring the Client-Publicist Relationship

Written by  Debra Locker
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Think about your most important relationships. What do they have in common? Traits such as clear communication, trust, and honesty likely come to mind. If you are thinking of hiring a public relations professional for your brand, it is critical that those traits exist.
It is important to have intimate, focused list of clients, so there is time to communicate honestly with the people you trust. In your business, I encourage you to approach the public relations relationship with the same goals in mind.

Build Your Brand
Before telling your story to the media, I encourage you to put a lot of thought into what is unique about your brand, how you want it to grow, and what you want to accomplish by working with a public relations professional. Taking the time to outline these things early on will set a public relations professional off on the right foot and set a brand up for success. I have seen brands try public relations too soon and without clear goals, which is unsuccessful and frustrating for
everyone involved.

Educating the Publicist
Secondly, be patient. Rome was not built in a day and neither is a solid public relations strategy. Part of the education process involves the public relations professional learning about your industry. It is important to take time to teach a publicist about your industry, just as you would any new employee. You may choose to hire an in-house public relations professional or contract with an agency. Either way, they deserve your time and attention during the education phase.
In order to secure coverage, your publicist must speak as eloquently about your brand as you. Knowing the lingo is only part of the equation. Coverage takes time, relationships, and even more patience. You do not start doing public relations one day and appear in the Wall Street Journal the next.

Practicing Patience
Public relations consultant Marina Echavarria of Build-A-Buzz states, “In today’s technology and social media age, there is an atmosphere of instant gratification. Given this new reality, it is more important than ever to manage expectations. Seasoned public relations professionals know that it takes time to implement an effective campaign. Throughout the process, communication between client and publicist is key. Frequent updates, progress reports, and goal-setting will all help manage expectations and lead to a harmonious and more effective relationship.”
Yes, the key word in public relations is relations. Successes between companies and their public relations professional are achieved together with strategy, patience, and relationships. It can takes years for relationships to be built and for ideas to come to fruition. For example, one Locker Public Relations client, Skin Authority, had a coaching model featured in the January 2015 issue of Marie Claire; we had been talking with the writer for at least five years and I had known her for more than a decade!
Fellow public relations professional Darlene Fiske of The Fiske Group concurs on practicing patience. “Have realistic goals and understand that securing a big story often takes time. Also, be prepared to send a lot of samples. Your public relations firm will tell you that your chances of getting a story are much higher if the journalist can touch, feel, and sample your product. The same is true for spas and resorts – the writer will produce a richer story if they are able to experience for themselves the spa treatments and amenities you offer.”

Creating a Great Relationship
Lastly, if you are going to be the spokesperson, which is typically the brand’s CEO or president, be sure to like the person you hire to do your public relations. You will talk with them a lot, at odd hours and in stressful situations. They will be speaking on your behalf. It is their job to talk with journalists, so you must feel confident that they can represent your brand correctly. The public relations professional will see you in situations that can be uncomfortable, such as your first time on television. Again, think of the traits I mentioned earlier when you are choosing your publicist – clear communication, trust, and honesty. In a solid client-public relations relationship, you will become long-time friends and confidants.
Fiske adds, “It is important to find a public relations practitioner who is passionate about what your business offers. If they do not ask a lot of questions about you and your business, find someone who is curious and will dig deep to find story angles and opportunities for you.”
Again, it is all about relationships. The right publicist can take your brand to levels that are beyond your wildest dreams, while the wrong one can ruin your reputation and cause a lot of stress in the process. Take time and do your research before adding public relations to your team. It is worth it.


Debra-Locker-2015Debra Locker is a consummate communications professional. For more than two decades, she has successfully held positions in public relations and journalism that have included securing key placements in major media outlets, executing large-scale media events, desk-side visits, and video production. Locker’s company, Locker Public Relations, is an award-winning boutique firm that focuses on luxury lifestyles. Clients are featured by top media outlets, including “The Doctors,” The “TODAY” Show, The New York Times, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, Marie Claire, and Huffington Post. Locker is a previous television journalist who is a doting mom and community volunteer. She has traveled to more than 100 spas and is a self-proclaimed beauty junkie.

 

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