Public Relations

7 Questions You Need an Answer to Before Hiring a PR Firm

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Searching for the best communications firm is a lot like dating. Although there are plenty of fish in the sea, finding “the one” can be daunting. You want chemistry, competence, substance and experience – you need it all, and there is no need to settle for less.

Before you enter into a long-term relationship with a signed retainer contract, you should ask these seven questions to make sure you are swiping right on the best partner for your brand.

1. What Type of PR Firm Do We Want to Work With?

There are several different types of PR firms, such as big, local, boutique, global, traditional, specialized, integrated – the list goes on. So know what you really want before starting the process by researching the types and figuring out which PR agency might be the fit for you and your business based on the goals you want to accomplish with your PR strategies.

2. How Will We Measure Success?

The right answer to this is analytics. PR firms shouldn’t just build brand awareness – their successes should be able to be measured. You should only consider public relations agencies that offer to provide your team with reporting ranging from daily, weekly to monthly and quarterly reports for a comprehensive overview of how various media outlets are covering your brand and the industry.

3. Are We Compatible?

In the wildly-varied and changing world of the media, various approaches and perspectives exist. Make sure your vision aligns with that of your prospective PR firm.

4. What Will It Take to Make the Relationship Work?

As with any other relationship, a partnership between your brand and the public relations firm you hire will require work and effort from both companies. For example, you or members of your team will likely need to be available for meetings and managing internal approval processes. Be sure to understand what your level of involvement and commitment will need to be to ensure a successful relationship.

5. Will They Make It Facebook Official?

The PR firm you hire must be well versed in social media. You should know what the firm has done for its clients on platforms like Twitter and Facebook – and, more importantly, with what results? Results may vary in terms of outreach, but measurements with numbers will always be an important indicator to determine successful PR campaigns and brand recognition.

6. Are They Interested in Who We Are?

You definitely want to know that a communications agency has done its homework on you and the products and services offered by your brand. This should be evident during your exploratory meetings when they outline how they intend to accomplish your public relations goals. These meetings should also give you some sense of the firm and its team’s experience in your space. You want a team that is excited and passionate about your mission and brand – not just looking for a big paycheck.

7. What Is Our Budget?

Determining your financial budget early in the process can help you set a reasonable expectation for your company and the PR firms you speak with. Also, it will ensure that you receive an honest and customized pitch that is grounded in reality.

Why Invest in PR

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Many businesses decide not to invest in public relations due to a lack of understanding of what it can offer and the benefits it can provide. Although it can be a costly investment, a consistent, well-planned and thoughtfully executed public relationsplan is crucial for overall business success.

When things are going well, business leaders may consider public relations an unnecessary addition to their company. When the future looks financially cloudy, shortsighted organizations often make hasty decisions to slash expenses and cut public relations from the necessities. However, tech and media-savvy companies usually understand the importance of consistent media relationsdue to their close-knit connection to media. They understand that building relationships with their audiences and reporters strengthen their standing within the community.

Furthermore, ongoing media campaigns deliver multiple returns on every dollar spent via exposure and access to larger audiences. Public relations firms can help you maximize costs and save money.

Here are some additional reasons why PR is a great investment.

1. Builds More Trust Within Your Brand

PR-related media coverage results in journalists highlighting and discussing your brand in news reports, articles and/or radio bulletins as a credible and independent endorsement. Due to this media being earned, not paid for, it immediately helps build trust between the public and your brand. Unlike conventional advertising, which is usually a one-way dialog between the brand and its customers, public relations initiatives are built around developing and nurturing two-way relationships. PR agencies can develop communications strategiesand relevant campaigns that resonate with your target audience.

2. Recruits Great Talent

Often times PR campaignsdo not just attract new clients, but also prospective employees. It is worth noting that public relations strategiesthat establish your business or brand as a thought-leader would inevitably enhance your profile among the best talent in your field. With PR, you have the ability to create a reputation as one of the most sought-after employers in your industry – and then you can leverage your newfound success to the finest and most qualified talent to accelerate your growth.

3. Enhances Your Company’s SEO

We all know that online earned media could have a significant impact on SEO as well as keyword rankings. Public relations agencies work to optimize and streamline content they are sharing. This will considerably contribute to your organization’s SEO efforts.

4. Attracts Investors

The right media placements at the right time can be used to capture the attention of investors, like venture capitalists. With suitable messaging and strategies, PR initiatives increase credibility as a potentially lucrative and stable investment target. An effective PR strategycan also position your organization’s CEO and other key executives as specialists in their field while building more credibility for your organization’s products and services. This keeps your company in the minds and portfolios of many investors.

7 Misconceptions about PR Firms

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Public Relations has, for many reasons, developed an interesting and controversial reputation over the short span of time it has been considered a practice. This is why business owners and the public in general have quite a few misconceptions about public relations firms. Here we will dispel seven common misconceptions that many individuals share pertaining to public relations agencies and their services.

1. PR Offers Little Business Value

This is a common misconception. Actually, communications firms create business value. Note that every company feature, product placement, executive profile and special event ultimately has tremendous power to build more credibility in the market and improve a company’s profile for the better.

2. PR Firms Distort the Truth

Many people have the sense that PR firms are all about deception and trickery. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The PR field is all about building trust and telling the truth. If a public relations firm loses the public’s hard-earned trust, all credibility goes out the window. PR firms that try to distort the truth are found out and are quickly brought to light.

3. PR Firms Only Speak to Customers

Public relations strategies are developed by PR firms to target much wider audiences than just a brand’s customers. This usually includes, but is not limited to, board members, investors, employees and other market analysts in the industry as well as anyone who has a stake in how various audience groups perceive the company.

4. PR Firms are Reactive

Public relations firms must be proactive to control the messaging, manage brand reputation effectively and position the brand for success.

5. PR Stands for Press Release

Many people think that the PR in PR firms stands for “press release” and are under the erroneous impression that PR agencies are only good for helping crank out press releases. The truth is that PR firms handle other aspects as well, like reputation management, brand positioning and crisis communication.

6. Social Media Triumphs Everything

Guess what? Not all PR firms rely solely on social media. Although it is a great tool for PR firms to get their message across to diverse audiences, note that it will not get across to all audiences. PR firms leverage many tools, like targeted media placement and special events, to get the word out.

7. PR Firms Operate Independently

The truth is that PR firms can’t operate in a vacuum. This is because they need vital information and input from various other areas in your company, like sales and marketing, to do the best job.

Isn’t PR Just Media Relations?

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You have likely heard the terms media relations and public relations used interchangeably. While there are similarities between the two, they are not the same thing.

Public Relations

We can define public relations as a long-term and strategic communications process that develops mutually beneficial and lasting relationships between various organizations and their target audience. These various audiences include customers, employees, industry leaders, government bodies, investors, suppliers, charities, and the media. PR firms can devise PR campaigns that resonate with these audience groups.

Media Relations

Media relations, on the other hand, is an aspect of public relations. The two terms are not strictly interchangeable since media relations focuses solely on the relationship between an organization and the media. These can be editors, reporters, and journalists at online publications as well as print media outlets such as Forbes and The Washington Post, or producers from radio and TV stations.

Here are some reasons why public relations and media relations are not the same.

Story Development and Broadcasting

Public relations focuses on helping companies or organizations find their story and determining what they would like to say and to whom. This shows the importance of strategic public relations.

On the other hand, with media relations, key stories are assigned a platform and widely distributed to consumers of news. The evolution of technology has opened the doors for organizations to explore different methods to reach audiences, such as with blogging and social media.

However, while these mediums are still relatively new, they do not eliminate the need for traditional news, like television, newspapers and radio. Traditional news is still one of the most effective ways to share your message with a large audience. It is also cost-effective.

Number of Channels

Public relations specialists look to develop and foster the relationships between their organization and stakeholders. To do this, public relations professionals may utilize various and diversified channels, such as a company blog, various social media platforms, or even special events for communicating effectively and directly with those individuals.

In contrast, media relations tend to focus on just one important channel: the press.

If you use the press as the channel for communicating with stakeholders, it not only allows you to meet stakeholders where they are already — using what they are already watching, reading, or listening to — but it helps add third-party validation to your message. Underestimating the importance of third-party validation is detrimental. Think about how persuasive and credible a message is coming from a source, like Forbes or The New York Times, versus coming from a newly-established Twitter account.

TrizCom Client: Soulman’s Bar-B-Que Celebrates the Commander-In-Beef

Presidential History is Full of Bar-B-Que Traditions

By Dana Cobb, TrizCom PR

Bar-b-que has been a longstanding tradition for holidays like the Fourth of July and Labor Day. Families and friends gather around a grill to enjoy ribs, brisket and sausage smothered in sauce. Many do not realize that, like America, bar-b-que has evolved over time as presidents pass down their traditions from one to another.

America’s love for bar-b-que began with our first president, George Washington. In a 1769 journal entry, he wrote, “Went in to Alexandria to a Barbecue and stayed all Night.” He attended and hosted several bar-b-ques from then on, passing down a tradition many of our leaders continued. The seventh president, Andrew Jackson, made bar-b-que a staple at presidential campaigns and is credited as the first to establish the Election Day bar-b-que.

Former President James K. Polk was not known as a bar-b-que supporter, but he was in power in 1845 when Texas was added to the Union. Without him, Texan bar-b-que would not be American. Former President Abraham Lincoln’s campaign rallies were usually at picnics with pit bar-b-qued turkey. Burgoo, a stew-like meal of meat and vegetables, often accompanied the turkey.

Former President Dwight Eisenhower was seen grilling at the White House on several occasions throughout his residency. He said he could eat steak every day of the week. At times, the public wrote to the White House inquiring about recipes for different sauces. He was delighted to pass on his tips and tricks.

Former President Lyndon Johnson became the most important representative for Texas bar-b-que. His caterer, Walter Jetton, fed 300 hungry mouths at the first bar-b-que state dinner. LBJ continued to host prominent leaders at the White House and his Texas ranch throughout his presidency, usually serving ribs and brisket.

Former President George H.W. Bush also preferred Texas bar-b-que. He hosted regular Sunday bar-b-ques on the White House Lawn. He passed the tradition down to his son, former President George W. Bush, when he served as president. President Bush had planned a bar-b-que on Sept. 11, 2001. The event was cancelled, and the meals were instead given to first responders at the Pentagon.

America’s newest president, Donald Trump, also enjoys some good bar-b-que. He surprised diners after a rally in Greensboro. He ordered a large chopped pork bar-b-que plate with slaw, hush puppies, French fries and sweet tea. It will be interesting to see if our current president will utilize bar-b-que at the White House during his presidency and if bar-b-que will continue to make its mark on American history in the years to come.

 

Using Publicity to Get What You Really Want

By Jeff Cheatham, Senior Account Manager at TrizCom PR

Successful companies simply can’t compete in today’s business world without a strategic corporate communications plan. Perhaps it’s traditional advertising. Or maybe a large-scale marketing platform complete with experiential programming. It may even include a heavy rotation of digital acumen in the world of website conversion points coupled with a social media blitz.

But how do consumer and business-to-business audiences react to the trustworthiness of these aforementioned initiatives? Fortunately, we have some fresh statistics to share from the global data company Statista Research & Analysis, Inc.

When it comes to consumer trust (and moreover, belief), public relations and media outreach efforts ranked fifth out of 19 polled categories ranging from word-of-mouth to Internet banner ads. Sixty-three percent of respondents reported that hearing about a product or service as a result of public relations and media outreach earned their trust. The highest level was word-of-mouth at 82 percent. The lowest level of trustworthiness was reserved for text ads on mobile phones—rated at just 37 percent.

At TrizCom, we once had a client explain to us exactly what he needed in terms of value from our partnership. “I need articles in reputable publications that mention our company…something that our sales team can then take with them into new business meetings and show that we’re a respected voice in this industry vertical.” This is the perfect example of using publicity to get what you really want. Whether it’s business-to-consumer or business-to-business, incremental sales and increased profit margins are almost always the final justification for entering into a PR partnership.

This justification directly effects how we work on behalf of our clients. You really have to put yourself in your client’s proverbial shoes to see whether or not your public relations efforts are truly serving to benefit them. We’ve done some excellent work on behalf of convenient health care and freestanding ER clients, but often had to forego higher visibility opportunities simply because we realized these storylines weren’t going to add up to an additional patient walking through their doors. But by focusing on hyperlocal media strategies, we could reach the soccer moms out there who make health care decisions in the middle of the night when their kids get sick. It all comes back to incremental business.

If your business is looking into whether or not a public relations campaign is the right fit for your organization’s goals, ask yourself if publicity can get you what you really want. We’re betting it can.

 

Why Heroes For Children Is My Passion - In Honor Of National Childhood Cancer Month

By Jo Trizila, President & CEO of TrizCom Public Relations

Every person, every business has a reason for choosing their nonprofit partner. Let’s face it: one has to be choosy when picking a volunteer activity (whether it’s a board of director’s seat, charity gala volunteer or organization volunteer). We have only so many hours in the week that we can spare outside our family and work commitments.

I met the founders of Heroes for Children when I was a young 30-something-year-old with little financial resources but I did have connections and nonprofit experience. I took a meeting with Larissa and Jenny, Heroes co-founders, to see how I could help them. The timing wasn’t good, and I was already over committed to other projects – but I never forgot about them. Years would pass, jobs would change, situations altered and now I find myself on the board of directors for the second year and Heroes for Children has become TrizCom’s one and only pro bono account.

Heroes for Children provides financial and social assistance to families who have a child with cancer. Sometimes we help pay mortgage payments, give gas cards, pay for a prom dress, give a 6-year-old a birthday, supply a teenager a laptop so they can keep up with friends and schoolwork while undergoing treatment, or it might even be to pay the expense of banking a teenager’s sperm cells so one day he might be able to have biological children of his own. Unfortunately, we are also the organization that families come to when they have lost a child and need help laying them to rest.

I have stayed awake late at night trying to figure out how to do more for Heroes. I have wept because of our kiddos with Heroes. And I have never smiled more than with the work we do with Heroes. In short, my passion lies with Heroes for Children, and it is deeply personal.

When I was 13 years old, in the middle of my 7th grade year, I developed a brain abscess that was considered inoperable. My parents had just changed insurance and the company denied coverage, stating the abscess was a preexisting condition. Following emergency brain surgery and months in the hospital to treat the abscess, I contracted hepatitis. After the hepatitis, I developed aplastic anemia from a drug given to me to treat the brain abscess. The only cure for this disease was a bone marrow transplant. At the time, 1985, there were only two hospitals in the United States doing this “experimental” transplant, and we were lucky enough that Baylor Hospital was one of the two. Once again, insurance denied coverage – this time because the transplant was “experimental.”

As a 13-year-old, I had no idea what stress my parents were absorbing. As a mother today, I simply don’t know how they faced each day. The brain abscess was inoperable, and I was told that my odds of coming out of surgery were very, very slim due to the location. My odds of surviving an experimental bone marrow transplant were just as low. Bills upon bills upon bills piled up. I was critical most nights, and either my mom or my dad would stay with me while still trying to run their travel agency business and care for my younger brother. To help, they flew my grandmother in to stay with me during the day. My poor brother was left with friends for most of 1985.

During the darkest days come some of the brightest memories. Our church at the time, First Presbyterian Church of Richardson, unbeknownst to us, took up a special collection one Sunday. They came to the hospital and gave my parents a check for a couple thousand dollars with no strings attached. My parents, to this day, say that it was like someone handed them a million dollars. I have experienced firsthand how the generosity of others impacts a family’s life.

So fast forward 30 years. I feel like I am able to give back to the hundreds of strangers who helped me and my family back in 1985. No one ever wishes a child to be sick. No one ever plans for a child to be sick. But thank God there are organizations like Heroes that families can turn to in their darkest days.

I think what hurts me the most is that we are not able to help every family that needs us. There is so much more we can do. Our average gift to a Heroes’ family is a mere $750. There have been times when we lose one of the kiddos we’ve helped and it literally takes a little piece of your soul each time. These are the days when I crawl into my sleeping daughter’s bed and hold her tight.

Cancer SUCKS. It SUCKS even more when it happens to an innocent child. Cancer doesn’t care if you are black, brown or white. It doesn’t care if you are a millionaire or if you are living below the poverty line. It doesn’t care if you have insurance or you don’t. When a child has cancer, it is a crisis for the entire family. Your normal life is now turned upside down, and you have a new normal to learn. A life of treatments, short-term and long-term side effects, tests, procedures, transplants, trials, caregivers for your other children, and the list goes on and on and on.

You hear this all the time: you really don’t understand a parent’s love until you become a parent, and boy, no truer statement has ever been made. A parent’s love is unlike any other love I have known. You are your child’s protector, you are her fighter, you are his voice, you are her nursemaid, and when you can’t be…. well, that’s the definition of true, honest, gut-wrenching, hopeless pain. At Heroes, we frequently hear stories that a mom or dad lost their job because their boss made them choose between spending the night with their scared, terminally ill child vs. coming into work. Or the mom who had to move to a major city so her baby could get treated and still had to figure out how to pay her mortgage/rent back home.

So this is why I support Heroes for Children. No family should EVER have to fight this alone!

When you go home tonight and are in the middle of evening chaos (trying to cook dinner, answering the cell phone, telling someone to get off the iPad and do their homework, letting the dog out…), stop for one minute and imagine if today, you were one of 43 families who were told that your baby has cancer. What would you do? Would you be financially prepared for such a diagnosis? Would you have a network of supporters? Would you be stable enough to fight this battle? Honestly, I don’t think I would be – but you do what you have to do for your children. What I do know, my first call would be to Heroes for Children. 

For the families we help and for the thousands we simply don’t have enough money to help, please consider a recurring $25 gift a month with our Heroes for Children from The Heart Monthly Giving Circle. Think about it – that’s less than six Starbucks coffees a month. Your donation will help fund a computer, a mother’s groceries, a dad paying to keep the electricity turned on. It makes a real difference. We see it every single day. Please go here: http://www.heroesforchildren.org/get-involved/from-the-heart-monthly-giving-circle/.

TrizCom PR is proud to donate Heroes for Children public relations. Here are a few of our favorite Heroes’ stories:

You may be thinking, why is this blog on a public relations site? Well, part of our job as PR folks is to tell our client’s stories to targeted publications. You read this entire blog post, yes? Your awareness and consideration is higher for Heroes for Children than it was before reading the story, yes? This is true because you read a story. Storytelling is a great tactic in any public relations strategy.

At TrizCom PR we tell our clients that an effective story has transparency, is authentic, has a human interest angle, provokes emotion and contains visuals.

As the king of marketing, Seth Godin, says, “Marketing is storytelling.”

Everyone has a story. Let us help you tell your story.

#TrizComPR #StoryTellingandPR #MarketingIsStorytelling

Not the Vacation I Planned: Tragedy Transitions Vacationing PR Pro into Media Relations Juggernaut

Not the Vacation I Planned: Tragedy Transitions Vacationing PR Pro into Media Relations Juggernaut

My account of what happened on our Carnival Liberty vacation and the tips for conducting spot news during a breaking news story....Bulldog Reporter: Not the Vacation I Planned: Tragedy Transitions Vacationing PR Pro Into Media Relations Juggernaut.