Gini Dietrich

PR is More than Media Relations

By: Gini Dietrich | August 11, 2014 | 
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PESO Model

By Gini Dietrich

I’m fairly certain Sean McGinnis has an alert set up for “Things that are going to make Gini go ballistic” because he sends me articles all the time and then sits back and watches.

Such is the case with “5 Most Common Startup Marketing Failures.”

He said, “Pay close attention to the first mistake.”

The first mistake a startup could make, of course, is to hire a PR team early on.

Heaven forbid you focus on where your strengths lie and hire professionals where you are weak. I most certainly can keep our books up-to-date, but I really, really dislike it so we have Kasia Kaufman, accountant extraordinaire, to keep our financials in order and meet the monthly demands of the bank.

But that’s not what bothers me. If you don’t want to hire a professional or team to do work where you might not have the skill set, that’s fine. It’s fairly easy to some some DIY media relations in today’s digital age.

PR is More than Media Relations

What bothers me about it is PR is not just media relations.

You don’t need to have a PR team when your business is just starting. What you need then is a solid customer base that has formed a brand loyalty, and this is done best organically by interacting with your customers through social media accounts and being open about your business. People love to read blogs and follow Twitter accounts, so give the people what they want! You can spend the money on the PR team on something that will be a bit more useful.

Um, isn’t PR social media and content marketing?

How, pray tell, will you start your business, find your customers, sell your product or service, innovate, develop new products or services, make tweaks, and be ready to go to market if you are also writing blog posts and tweeting without any help?

To be fair, when I said this to Sean, he said, “Social and blogging certainly can be PR, but there are many companies that do not treat them that way.”

Even if they’re not treated as PR, you still have to do them…and if you don’t hire someone to help you, you have to do them yourself.

As much time as I spend on the road with business owners as I do, I know most do not have the time—and do not have the passion or skill—to do social media and blogging on their own.

Integration of PESO

No matter where they “belong,” we believe in the PESO model: Paid, earned, shared, and owned media.

PR is an integration of those four media types. You’ll see that media relations—earned media—is only a quarter of the larger strategy.

You’ll also note that shared media—or social media—is also only a quarter of the larger strategy. And so is blogging, or owned media.

The four have to work together for an organization to not only create its message, but to distribute it and get third-party endorsement of it.

It takes an experienced professional to do that.

But, by all means, startups. Don’t make a mistake and hire a PR professional or team when you begin to market your company.

You can definitely grow if no one knows anything about you (where is that sarcasm font??).

As Mr. D. said while I was writing this blog post, “Saying PR is just media relations is akin to saying your brand is about the color in your logo.” Amen, HB. Amen.

Photo credit: This is the image we use to show prospects and clients how we can help them and what types of work they can expect. Matt Camp created it for us.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, the lead blogger at Spin Sucks, and the host of Spin Sucks the podcast. She also is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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