Why Back to Basics is the Magic Bullet for PR

public relations Apr 26, 2020

In my 20 plus years in PR on both the corporate and the agency side, I've seen it all. And I hate it when people say that because there is always more to learn! What I mean is I have worked for and with freelance consultants, small agencies and large agencies. My clients have included building products, design, startups, small businesses, telecom, banking, non-profit, you can pretty much name it. That is not to brag, just to lend some credibility to what I am saying.

PR is very simple. It can seem complicated and overwhelming, and it certainly can be. We PR people are really good at making things look good and impressive. We can create dozens of pages of briefings, plans, messaging and reports. Especially on the agency side - because you know what, we get paid by the hour. (Even when there is a retainer, it's still based on the number of hours you work.) We can make it look amazing, beautifully laid out and presented. So clients buy into this beautiful plan.

Great. But what about the results? While they are presented in a report that is just as perfectly crafted and designed as the pitch and plans were, there may not be much substance there. PR pros are smart and usually don't make promises they can't keep, but they will paint a picture of the best-case scenario. It's only understandable that things happen, and the TODAY Show didn't bite, or the agenda was hijacked by something, like a pandemic! I was worked on a campaign with a large agency and the budget was half a million dollars. The results were shockingly close to zero when it came to earned coverage. But they could explain everything...

My point is bigger is not better. In the $500K campaign, our tiny internal team actually generated virtually all the exposure because we had all our bases covered. Thinking outside the box is fun - and sometimes productive - but when it comes to PR, doing the basics, doing them well and consistently is the magic bullet. 

I may be inclined to use the 80/20 rule - 20 percent of what you invest will generate 80 or your results. Except it may be closer to 90/10... Focus on the fundamentals and forgo the fancy stuff. It's not sexy but hugely effective. 



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