20 Reasons to Hire a PR Agency

This month, Dittoe PR celebrates 20 years in business! All month long, we’re celebrating our anniversary by sharing content dedicated to the big 2-0. To kick things off, we’re breaking down the top 20 reasons to hire a public relations agency:

1. Build brand awareness
One of the biggest and most obvious benefits of PR is that it helps gain exposure for your brand. And let’s be clear: building a brand is a marathon not a sprint, which means you need people who are working to secure consistent, ongoing media coverage for your company, your leadership team, and your services or products day in and day out for a long period of time. 

2. Generate new business opportunities
When done correctly, public relations can help improve business outcomes by generating new leads. When your brand or product is strategically placed in targeted or niche media outlets, you are becoming more visible to your target audiences.

3. Gain credibility
Whether you’re looking to gain new customers, find new investors, or maybe even get noticed by larger companies for a potential buyout, credibility is a must. Similar to how a great feature in a top publication can help build brand awareness, it can also build your credibility. A positive endorsement from a third party generates much more credibility than advertising.

4. Attract top talent
A great PR campaign has the ability to attract top talent to your company. Stories on company growth and innovation, as well as your culture and philanthropic initiatives help to position your company as a desirable place to work. Touting award recognitions for your business and announcing new hires and promotions are also great ways to solidify your organization as a top workplace in your area or industry.

5. Funding
PR can be critical for startups looking to secure funding. Not only does positive media coverage build brand awareness and credibility, but it will put you in a better negotiating position with potential investors.

6. Damage control
A crisis can hit in any business at any time and impact a company’s credibility. Agencies have the training, tools and experience to help you navigate through the tough times and mitigate damages of a PR crisis. They can also take a proactive approach and develop communications plans before a crisis occurs, ensuring there are detailed plans of action ready, just in case.

7. Media specialists
PR agencies’ bread and butter is typically media relations. They have built up an extensive list of media contacts, relationships and connections with journalists and editors working in local, trade and national media outlets. A journalist is much more likely to open, read and accept an email pitch when it comes from a recognizable source. PR firms also spend countless hours researching outlets and identifying which reporters actively cover the industry.

8. Content specialists
PR firms also know a thing or two about writing engaging content that goes far beyond press releases. Bylined articles and op-eds, case studies, blogs, award submissions, speaking nominations…the list goes on and on! An agency should have a team of veteran writers who can create and amplify content that will convert interest into sales, and prospects into long-term loyal customers.

9. The brainpower of an agency
When working with a PR firm, you typically will have a dedicated account team that you work with on a daily basis. The individuals you work with have most likely developed and executed similar strategic PR plans many times before in their careers.

10. Resources
Leveraging PR software tools is key to tracking and measuring success, but they aren’t cheap. Good PR firms will invest in tools like TrendKite, Critical Mention and Cision to identify press contacts, influencers and opportunities, track media coverage and web traffic, and ultimately measure the overall impact of earned media.

11. An outside viewpoint is valuable
Not all news is newsworthy. PR agencies know what types of stories the media will find interesting and cover and which ones they will say “hard pass” to. On the flip side, a company may have industry insights or a customer case study that they think no one will care about, but a good PR firm can sniff out a good media opportunity a mile away. An agency will find ways to take something that might not seem “sexy” and turn it into an opportunity to reach, engage, and persuade your target audiences.

12. They work hard for the money
That said, an agency won’t wait for a company to bring them a newsworthy announcement to take the media. A good PR firm will be proactively brainstorming various story angles and ways to ensure your company and leadership team are constantly being featured in the news and that you’re ultimately reaching your target audiences.

13. Allows you to focus on your business at hand
Media relations is a full-time job (believe us, or else we’d be jobless). That’s why hiring a PR agency can help alleviate the pressure of running a business while building brand awareness. This is especially true for startups. While you’re working on the mechanics of the company, an agency will focus on media outreach, drafting content, submitting awards and more on your behalf.

14. Increases synergy among departments
PR doesn’t work in a vacuum. In order to best leverage the money you’re spending on PR, it needs to be integrated into your greater marketing strategy. Increasingly, there is more integration across PR, social media and digital advertising. When all departments are working together toward a common goal, well, that’s when the magic happens.  

15. PR becomes a priority
When PR is kept in-house, it’s often added to the already extremely full plate of the marketing team. Because PR isn’t their top priority (and shouldn’t be), it can often fall to the wayside. Working with an agency forces PR to become a priority.

16. It’s cheaper than advertising
Advertising in a publication or on TV can be extremely expensive, and PR has the power to be much more effective than traditional brand-building techniques like paid advertising because people don’t relate to advertisements – they consume them. Storytelling is the way people attach meaning to products and services, and it’s the reason they want to belong to a brand. Yes, you’re still paying an agency for their services, but it’s at a fraction of the overall advertising cost.

17. Enhance your social media presence
Social media’s influence is too large to ignore and it’s reshaping the PR industry. Many PR agencies have expanded their service offerings in the past few years to include some level of social media support. PR content (press releases, company announcements, etc.) can live longer, spread faster and reach further with the help of social media.

18. Position yourself as a thought leader
Good thought leadership campaigns understand that consistency is key. One does not become known as an expert in their field without sharing their voice on their subject matter. PR agencies will take their clients’ best resource- talent -and give them the platforms to share their expertise in expert interviews, byline articles, award wins, speaking opportunities and more.

19. Leveraging influence from outside sources
Even though media relations may be an agency’s bread and butter, it doesn’t stop there. Working with influencers on social media and even the occasional TV or radio personality can help to spread awareness in a more meaningful way. Similar to celebrity endorsements, agencies will work with nano, micro and macro-influencers to identify potential partnerships in order to leverage additional content and coverage opportunities for your brand.

20. Measuring success 
Measuring the success of PR efforts can be challenging, especially when you try to do it on your own. Agencies (at least the great ones) invest in a variety of PR measurement tools to show clients ROI and track KPIs such as total media mentions, share of voice among competitors, ad value, engagement, sentiment and social media amplification.

Ready to learn more about how an agency can you help you achieve your company goals? If so, shoot me an email at lauryn@dittoepr.com!

PR Reporting 101: The Essential Measurement Tools

This time last year, I was barreling toward a quarter-life crisis by unnecessarily stressing about post-grad life. Despite rationally knowing I was prepared to work as a “real-life” PR pro and function as an active adult, I was terrified. Today, I can reflect back and say that my rationale was exactly accurate – minus my juvenile snack habits (Java flavored Monster, anyone?) – and I was much more prepared than I thought I would be.

If you’re preparing to graduate in May, you may be wondering what my biggest (or most surprising) learning curve has been in my first full-time agency role. Since my days as an intern in a small NYC agency, I’ve realized how vital measurement and reporting tools are for showcasing successful public relations efforts.

Thankfully, I was already somewhat familiar with Cision, a contact-finding tool, upon starting at Dittoe PR. However, I felt a smidge intimated when I received my onboarding schedule on my first day, which included an overview of several platforms I’d never heard of before. For whatever reason, I wasn’t taught or even familiarized with reporting tools in college and only received real-world experience during an internship with one of several important tools.

To give you a head start in your first agency gig, I’ve rounded up a few of the software VIP’s every PR pro should know.

Cision.

This online public relations tool allows professionals to tap into a massive database of journalist and blogger contact information for earned media outreach. The Cision platform gives PR pros access to intelligence, influence and insights and is commonly used to monitor news and social media sites, as well as distribute press releases.

The majority of the time, Cision is used to build or bulk up press lists. We consistently build specifically-tailored press lists for clients that include specific markets, outlets and reporters. Taking it a step further, we organize by reporters’ beats and our pitching and/or press release topic. Cision can also be used to provide circulation and ad rate numbers for digital and print publications, allowing us to track the potential reach of a secured earned media story.

Alexa.

This tool is, by far, the easiest to learn and is perfect for producing quick results. Primarily, PR professionals use Alexa to monitor the competitive analytics of a website’s traffic. Alexa has a large database that displays the historic data for the number of page views, unique monthly visitors and the estimated page views for a website of all sizes, all over the world.

Mainly, Alexa is used to track the audience impressions of a specific piece of coverage and, from there, the estimated advertising equivalency for all stories secured on behalf of a client during a specified amount of time. We track our efforts in real time, sharing this data with our client contacts as these stories are published, but we also aggregate the data in monthly and annual reports to showcase our efforts over time.

Critical Mention.

This reporting tool allows PR pros to access broadcast television and radio news clips in real-time. Critical Mention search, tracks and report clients’ significant media moments almost instantly. Additionally, Critical Mention tracks the number of viewers and estimates the advertising equivalency for the earned media.

When a client is mentioned on-air, we search Critical Mention using keywords and phrases, viewing the “word play” of the segment (this means the closed captioning) to find the broadcast coverage, pulling all mentions into a single, easy-to-view report before sharing the link with the client for internal use only.

Sprout.

This tool is a super-handy social media management platform. Sprout Social allows users to draft and post content, engage in two-way communication, conduct social listening, monitor audience demographics and track efforts through reporting.

Mainly, we use Sprout Social to manage the social media efforts for a variety of clients on our roster. Not only can we monitor post metrics, such as which posts received the most engagements or impressions, but Sprout also shares insightful audience demographics, including which time of day or days of the week were best for reaching the largest audience. At the end of each month, we use this platform to report our efforts, including the total number of impressions, engagements, link clicks and more.

TrendKite.

This platform tracks digital media mentions over a period of time. TrendKite allows users to build dashboards for clients, including top content, digital impressions, ad equivalency and more. Even further, PR pros can monitor a company’s “share of voice,” which allows you to compare competitors based on earned media coverage, mentions and overall media attention.

At Dittoe PR, we use TrendKite to build monthly reports for our clients’ digital coverage, tracking share of voice, total number of media mentions, readership, audience sentiment and more. We also digest the competitor coverage to search for new publications and writers for future outreach.

These tools are vital for tracking and reporting important metrics to prove the ROI of our efforts. Think your company could benefit from more in-depth research, tracking and management? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com to schedule a consultation today!

Public Relations vs. Marketing – What’s the Difference?

There are a lot of blurred lines when it comes to public relations and marketing. They intertwine so seamlessly that it can be easy to mistake one for the other. Often times when I tell others I work in PR, they’ll usually respond with something along the lines of “oh, so like, you do marketing?” This is usually when I take a deep breath and go into a “well…” explanation.

 

When I was first deciding on what career path I wanted to take in college, all I knew was that I would have to end up taking business classes if I wanted to major in marketing. Which meant math. *Gulps.*  I ultimately chose the public relations route, which I quickly realized was actually pretty similar to marketing. So, what exactly is the difference between PR and marketing? While both industries use similar methods and tactics to achieve results, they ultimately have separate end goals. Let’s take a look.

 

DEFINITIONS

  • Public Relations: PRSA defines public relations as a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. PRSA goes further on to say that PR is about influencing, engaging and building a relationship with key stakeholders across countless platforms in order to shape and frame the public perception of an organization. At Dittoe PR, we pride ourselves on our proven successes with media relations (i.e. Columbus, Aardvark Straws, Western Golf Association, Stericycle Environmental Solutions and more). Not only do we focus on building relationships with media, but we help build the reputation of our clients’ brands, too.

 

  • Marketing: On the flip side, marketing is the action of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. It’s the process of teaching consumers why they should choose your product or service over those of your competitors.

 

GOALS

  • Public Relations: The goal of PR is to help create awareness and trust for a business or brand. As PR professionals, it’s our job to communicate with various audiences to help generate overall awareness and make others believe in the brand. Building this foundation can help a business build brand recognition within audiences and stand out against its competitors. Our goal is to create a trusted relationship with all of our audiences.

 

  • Marketing: The goal of marketing to create a demand for products or services. Marketers help generate demand in audiences by triggering a response and then directing individuals to a product (or service). A marketer’s goal is to eventually create an interested buyer.

 

TACTICS

  • Public Relations: This is often where the lines get blurred. PR and marketing use very similar tactics and methods for different end results. PR professionals rely on media relations efforts to create relationships with media members. Building these relationships can help to create awareness of a business, brand and/or product. We often used earned media efforts, meaning we don’t pay for a mentions or spotlight features; instead, media members will write a story or mention you in a roundup piece, often times solely because a relationship has already been built.

 

  • Marketing: Marketers often used paid media efforts to achieve their goals. Again, this is where things can start to intertwine, because many marketers will end up using tactics PR professionals use with media. It’s just as important to create meaningful relationships with media members. However, marketers will spend advertising dollars to generate overall demand in a product or service.

 

Bottom line: PR uses media to create awareness; marketing uses media to generate demand.

 

Ultimately, when used together, PR and marketing are a force to be reckoned with. When used properly, PR and marketing can encourage people to tell each other about a new restaurant, trust that the restaurant has good food, visit the restaurant and finally buy a meal.

 

Think your business or organization could benefit from public relations? Or interested in hearing more about our full list of services? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com today.