04 Aug 2019

What is a Publicist? Do I need a publicity campaign or a Publicist?

In answering the question do you need a Publicist, first it is important to understand what a Publicist does and how publicity and PR will help you. In essence a publicist can get you in the media. Publicists are gate keepers and bridge builders. A good publicity team will run your publicity / pr campaign with a number of different elements making up the project. Usually the project will include a media kit and contained within will be: a media release, headshots or product pictures along with your bio or spiel. The second element is a a targeted media database which the publicity team will build to suit your needs. For example, if you have a great new fitness product you don’t want media who work covering technology receiving your release, unless your product has some amazing tech aspect to it! The publicists decide what media needs to see your message. Publicity might require a stunt or for your product or brand to engage with celebrities, influencers and bloggers. Good publicists will have a track record of getting media and you’ll be able to see this because they will share this all over their own social media!  Publicity includes news stories and interviews in trade journals, industry sites, newspapers, magazines, blogs, webzines, websites, radio, television, social media and podcasts.

But why would you want that? It’s pretty simple, publicity is an extremely important tool for all businesses in an increasingly competitive market place. A news story can legitimise your business whilst endorsing skills and knowledge. Publicity can also be owner-generated content that exists on your own business platforms for example across social media. Sometimes a business just doesn’t have time to manage all this social media creation and that’s where they might outsource to a social media agency or a freelance publicist also skilled in creating content. Publicity can also position your business as an ‘expert’ in a particular field and is a great way of generating regular publicity and keeping a strong media ‘game face’.

Publicity can also include crisis management. Maybe you have been thrust into the media spotlight with an unfortunate incident that may be personal, professional or of no fault of your own. This is where you might need a professional publicist to take over the message that you want conveyed in the media. Once the media picks up a story they will be relentless until they get what they want. This might be an exclusive interview, pictures or a statement from the family or business entity. A PR agency will be able to manage all of this for you and can also become your spokesperson. Publicity are skilled in dealing with the media and can talk the media talk.

Publicists can also garner speaking engagements for you which is also another excellent opportunity for exposure and considered PR. Publicists can arrange product launches, brand activations, public events, cocktail parties and special events. Publicists are usually 360 event manager specialists. Launches and activations are also another excellent opportunity for publicity and can garner media interest and a digital footprint, particularly through social media exposure. Publicity will:

– Build awareness about your products/services, expertise and people.

– Drive prospects to your website.

– Drive participation in a promotion or event.

– Educate the market about problems your company can solve.

– Create an ongoing dialogue with the market.

– Generate Search Engine Optimisation and Social Media Optimisation (the capacity for your website and social media to be found by Google and search engines).

– Position you as an industry expert / spokesperson.

– Generate new clients and enquiries.

Publicity can be either a short or long-term investment that builds relationships and generates awareness. In deciding if you need a publicist it is important to understand the publicity is not marketing. There are no guarantees and the two activities are quite different.

Marketing is a strategic mix of promotional activities that work towards building your brand. Marketing is a paid guarantee of advertising whether that is on social media, digital platforms, the radio, television or in the newspaper. This is a created ad.

Publicity is the job of getting your brand or voice into the media. Publicists essentially introduce you to people you should know, and introduce people who should know you – to you through strategic activities: media campaigns, events, speaking engagements, ambassador roles, brand activations, product launches, social media engagement etc.

Publicity is not guaranteed and relies on the connections a publicist can make with the media. To put it in plain text:

Marketing will get you a television commercial, publicity will get you an interview on the television with a journalist.

Companies, individuals, celebrities and brands engage PR Agencies for access to their networks, existing media relationships and databases. It’s important to know that PR agencies do not pass on databases at the end of a working relationship as this is considered the agencies IP and agencies pay hefty rates to subscribe to important media databases. They also spend years making sure their databases are up to date. The client enjoys access to the agency’s years of experience, contacts, and relationships built over time in the media, which in turn generates strong new media results for them.

So, what makes a good PR agency? A good PR agency has a track record of media gets, this means their clients have been interviewed on the radio, their story has appeared on the television or in editorial in newspapers and major online platforms. A good PR agency is only as good as their database! A good agency will have a strong database that has been refined over time, they will have contacts with media and personal relationships with the media. They will be able to make the phone call to a journalist that you can’t. A good publicist will be able to get the television station receptionist to put your call through simply because of their name and track record with the media. The receptionist will likely be used to receiving calls from the publicist and instantly put the call through as opposed to ending the call quickly and without joy for the person ringing. A good PR agency knows people, especially the people you should know and who should know you.

As mentioned, there are no guarantees in the world of publicity, however if you have a story the media like, then you can expect to see results anywhere from 2-6 weeks for a campaign. If you are working on building your profile as an expert in your field, influencer or celebrity then results can take anywhere from 3-6 months to even a year! We have helped get people on television and in roles on reality television programs! Good publicists know how to work a narrative that producers are looking for and give excellent advice on the steps to take to get where you want to go.

Once you decide you need a publicist, you’ll find the process fairly simple. 

1. The publicist will work with you to create your story or glean it from you.

2. The team will create a custom database for you.

3. If you require a strategy, this will be created and then various elements will be executed by team members.

4. Your media kit is created: media release, head shots etc.

5. Your message is broadcast to the media!

Last but not least, it’s all in the relationships. The Publicist will use their existing relationships to lock down media coverage through personal pitching to secure media coverage.

So? If you think you need a publicist. Let us know!