HIRING A PUBLICIST? READ THIS FIRST…

by  This post can be originally found here

So, you’re the next incredible brand on deck and you’re ready to hire a publicist? Read this first:

Know exactly what a publicist does.

A publicist/PR pro is a public relations practitioner. And, public relations is the art of influencing public perception using strategic communication. “PR” is commonly used to describe the practice in general, not the practitioner. If your potential publicist refers to herself/himself as a “PR”, run.  It’s the equivalent of Metta World Peace saying he is a basketball. He didn’t say that, by the way.

Side note: Publicists don’t like to be called publishers either, unless in the rare instance he or she actually publishes books too.

A breakdown of a publicist’s tasks include:

Creating exposure: Your publicist should craft or oversee your Electronic Press Kit (EPK). Draft press releases to announce news worthy happenings. Pitch you to media and schedule interviews. Scan the media for new mentions of your brand, negative or positive.  Oversee your image and have a good relationship with a fashion stylist. Manage, plan or review your social media activity. Coordinate photo shoots and video shoots. Assist you on the red carpet, but not actually pose for photos with you. Assist with speeches. Plan events and press junkets. Make sure your branding is cohesive.

Brand protection: He or she should conduct media training for your print/radio/TV interviews. Manage a crisis, if one arises. Think Olivia Pope. Or, Judy Smith. Although most PR pros don’t soley specialize in crisis management, they should have a working knowledge to craft an effective plan in case you ever need it.

What’s your budget? 

Now, that you understand publicists aren’t hired to put your name on a list at a party, pick up your laundry or babysit your kids… know your BUDGET. Before you go to a car dealership, you have an idea of the amount you want to spend. Do your research before meeting with a publicist to avoid wasting your time, and theirs. If you want to hire a big time agency– who may actually assign a first year account executive to your account– expect to pay at least $10,000 per month as as minimum rate. Some big name publicists with boutique size firms and huge clients are also in this range.

Boutique firms and reputable freelance publicists charge around $5,000 per month on average, although more demanding clients may spend up to $10,000 per month. They may also take on a few smaller budget projects here and there if they believe in the particular brand, especially if the brand is a start-up, rookie, new artist, etc. On the flip side, corporate brands are hiring more and more boutique and freelance pros to ensure account attention and around the clock accessibility.

If a publicist is charging under $900 per month, what are the surrounding factors? Smaller geographical market? Seasonal or start up special? Scaled down services? Inexperience? Ask.

Oh, it’s not uncommon for publicists to ask professional athletes and entertainers to provide game/event tickets. It makes sense for them to observe you in your element. However, being in your element should not be a payment substitution.

Does the publicist have a passion for your field? 

Once upon a time a publicist with NFL clients asked me what a first and tenth was. That wasn’t a typo. Someone representing professional football players really asked what a first and tenth was. That’s like a book publicist asking what a book outline is. Or book hotline, to keep it consistent. Anyway, passion breeds research. Financial services & technology publicist, Samantha Savory, studies trends in the financial and tech world with the same intensity level she studies PR trends. Kristen Hopkins, who specializes in non-profit, knows her niche’s trends like the back of her hand.

It’s not unfair to ask for a fashion publicist’s thoughts on Isabel Marant’s spring collection to test their engagement level. Or, ask a sports publicist to pick Ovechkin or Crosby. If I were a musician, I would want my publicist to have a favorable opinion in my genre. Or, understand the complexity of current political issues before running my political campaign. A film publicist shouldn’t be required to have Roeper level movie knowledge, but a Varietysubscription shouldn’t sound far fetched. Regardless of the niche, it doesn’t hurt to check out your potential publicist’s tweets. If it’s truly a passion, they can’t help but talk about the subject.

Goals.

During the first meeting with your potential publicist, 80% of the conversation should be about your brand and its goals. If a publicist gives you a million ideas prior to hearing the brand’s goals, run. If you believe your brand is unique and trendsetting, PR ideas should be tailored. The publicist may have a few initial ideas, but the exciting ideas should be in the proposal you receive after the consultation. Even if the publicist knows all about your brand through research, hearing your goals is the main objective in the first meeting.

Side note: Speaking of the consultation, some publicists charge an hourly fee similar to attorneys, some do not.

Ask to see his or her portfolio. 

Don’t be afraid to ask to see their work. Even a newbie should have a portfolio with entries from internships.

Look at the types of brands included, the level of media exposure, writing skills, and the quality of the presentation. If their brand isn’t represented well, why should you trust them with yours?

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PR Pros: Choosing Clients’ Causes Carefully

By: Toni L. Rousell                   Original Post can be found here

Your advice is not only valued, as a hired PR professional, wise counsel is required.

So, how do you help your clients choose the causes they support? Being driven by emotions or going with what’s popular, is sure to be a recipe for disaster.

Discouraging clients from seeking alliance with causes they really have no sincere desire to support, or no real understanding of, should be number one priority.  It can be hard to steer them in a more beneficial direction, avoiding self-destruction of their brand, but it’s responsible and necessary.  They’ll thank you later and you’ll sleep better at night.  Throwing support to a cause they don’t truly believe in, will only lead to their support waning, which will consequently reduce the value of their endorsements as they appear “flaky”, or even unstable, in the public-eye.

Local vs. National

It can seem convenient to offer support to the largest, most visible organization when it comes to “giving-back”, but could a local organization, requiring more hands on support, be more beneficial to your client’s long-term philanthropic goals and public image?  Analyzing the organization’s mission, do results support that mission?

Local organizations will allow for your client to see the lives their efforts effect. They will be able to look directly into the eyes of those benefiting from their donations and volunteering, and will also be more likely to give to those in their hometowns who directly affected their success, which makes for excellent public relations.  This encourages a more faithful, less “fair-weather”, connection.

Alternatively, national organizations offer the opportunity for clients to give-back to multiple communities at once.  If your client lives or their primary business is based outside of their hometown, this choice would allow them to give-back to their hometown community, as well as to the new community that has embraced them. There should be no lack of effort on the client’s part to make their presence known, even when the cameras are off or not around.  A national organization will also be more likely to have consistent PR representation, affording a better grasp on public support of the cause and offering more flexible events your client can join.

Making the Commitment 

Sometimes a client desires to support organizations with a focus that may require a little extra effort for educating the public or validating the connection. Is the client truly committed? This is where your client’s genuine beliefs will come into play. The work required will expose the true intent: is it pub or love?

One example of true commitment is that of Actress Ciera Payton. Being raised, until the age of 13, by her grandmother and drug addicted (now incarcerated) father, Ms. Payton wanted to align her brand with organizations that would allow her to connect with youth growing up in an environment similar to herself: children of incarcerated parents.

But how understood is this cause?

Most children of incarcerated parents are misunderstood and, in many cases, ignored.  Many can site statistics, and some can actually admit they’ve become a statistic, but Ms. Payton’s focus is clear: share the fact that she has overcome the statistics.

By welcoming audiences in, sharing some of her most painful moments growing up in a life-threatening environment, Ms. Payton reaches those who can relate, finding those in need. She credits the Arts for saving her life, and not only commits funding, but diligently focuses on giving-back to youth facing the same battles she’s faced by mentoring.  She has chosen a mix of both local and national organizations to support, allowing her to give back to her hometown of New Orleans as well as her new home of Los Angeles.

Maya Angelou quote (pic)

PR and Publicity vs “Puff and Fluff”

While announcing the partnership, be honest with the public.  Don’t puff up your client to be more than what they are or try to fluff up their support to be more than what it is.  Instead, once the choice has been made, be sure to connect with those who genuinely share in the cause.  Reach out to those who are long-term supporters, whether celebrity or not. This will not only increase the support base for the cause, but will also strengthen your client’s alliance.  Joining forces and sharing ideas for creative support, increases public awareness and makes the difference between superficial “puff and fluff” and careful PR and publicity.

Remember, it’s the man who has more that gives more and philanthropic efforts are what keeps many in need going and feeling encouraged.  Giving back for the cameras is bound to be exposed and never worth the backlash.

Sports Public Relations: Uncovering the Hidden Job Market

Sports PR jobs seem like they’re hidden, but they’re really not.  You just have to know where to look.

Most people can’t find Sports PR jobs because they have blinders on.  They get so focused on working for their favorite team, they can’t see the big picture.  That’s understandable because of all the excitement surrounding the team create and the media attention superstar athletes generate.

Team Jobs = Only Six Percent of Market

According to Sports Careers founder, Mark Tudi, “Team jobs make up only six percent of the jobs within the entire industry.”  That means there’s another 94 percent of sports jobs out there that you should know about.  That’s what we’ll cover today.

Opportunities Within Each Sector

To uncover the hidden job market in Sports PR, we need to look at the various business sectors that make up the sports industry.  To simplify it, I’ve divided the sports industry into eight basic business sectors below.

  • Teams/Leagues/Governing Bodies
  • Corporate Sponsors
  • Sports Agencies
  • Sports Media
  • Sports Apparel
  • Sporting Goods
  • Stadiums/Live Events
  • Health/Fitness

Thousands of companies make up each of those sectors.  Here’s the good news: 99 percent of those companies have a PR department, or hire an outside agency.  Companies within the Corporate Sponsor sector, like Coca-Cola for example, employ PR experts to help garner as much attention as they possibly can in order to maximize those expensive sponsorships.

Sports Media companies, such as ESPN and Fox Sports, also have PR departments.  They’re constantly promoting new programming.  Same with Sports Apparel companies like Nike and Sporting Goods companies like Spalding.

Every company, every brand, every organization in the sports industry has a unique story to tell.  And it’s the PR department that helps make that happen.

The Biggest Opportunities

Once you discover the wide-range of companies that exist within the sports industry, you’ll have an easier time uncovering the Sports PR opportunities.

As for the biggest Sports PR opportunities happening in 2011, they can be found in two areas:

1) Social Media Coordinator

2) Sports PR & Marketing Agencies

If you’re bent on working for your favorite team, I suggest you position yourself as a social media expert.  Darren Rovell, CNBC Sports Business Reporter (@Darren Rovell) says, “I think that the social media coordinator is the best job that will open up on sports teams.”

Looking beyond the teams, the sector with the most opportunities would be Sports PR & Marketing Agencies.  Media fragmentation has caused sports properties to partner with agencies that specialize in highly-targeted audiences.

To find these agencies, look for my book entitled, “America’s Top 200 Sports PR & Marketing Firms: Job Leads, Key Contacts and Hiring Managers.” (Fall 2011).  I’ll send you an email alert when the book is released, just sign up for my newsletter here:  www.SportsLaunch.net 

Chris McKinney is the president of SPORTS LAUNCH, a nationwide career development company dedicated to helping college students and career-changers launch sports careers.