A few weeks ago, I was dealing with a roof leak -- again. My roofer had been out too many times to count and still could not pinpoint the problem. Finally, out of desperation, I brought in a fresh set of eyes (a handyman) who figured out the problem within 10 minutes.
Rather than pay my handyman to fix it, I called the roofer back (we were still under warranty), explained what we had discovered and told him what needed to be done. Unfortunately, he chose his own solution and a day later my roof was leaking ...again! Needless to say, the roofer was back out the next day to do what was initially requested of him, thus solving the problem.
It’s important to understand this was not a one-time thing. The roofer had been out so many times I began to dread calling him. I also was afraid I would void my warranty or have to pay someone else to do what he should have done all along, so I kept him coming back.
Having dealt with the situation for so long and having tried everything else to fix it, at this point I was in a better position than anyone else to know what was wrong. The roofer, on the other hand, was the professional and felt that he, not I, knew best. For me, it caused nothing but frustration. For him, it cost valuable time, which in turn, cost him money.
What does this have to do with business? Everything. Listening to clients is an important part of doing business. Granted, as public relations professionals, we are hired to do a job because of our expertise. But too often we don’t take the time to listen to what our clients want or need.
I once worked with a public relations “expert” who would walk into a meeting and immediately tell potential clients exactly what they needed even before taking the time to learn about their business, understand their goals or determine how best to accomplish them.
That is not to say we should let our public relations clients tell us how to do our jobs. Instead, we need to take the time to listen to them and then create a game plan that allows us to accomplish those goals. Your clients know their business better than anyone. If you combine that knowledge with your knowledge of public relations, you are creating a much more positive experience for everyone involved.
Listening is a skill that needs to be developed. Clients want to feel valued and obtaining their input is one way to make that happen. And, as in the case of the roofer, it may save you valuable time and money down the road. Not to mention, you will have a more satisfied client.
Susan R. Miller is founder of Garton-Miller Media, a full-service, South Florida based public relations firm. Susan is a former journalist with more than 30 years of experience. In addition to public relations, she provides web content writing, press releases, social media, photography and videography. She has two daughters, three golden retrievers and two cats.
Walk into most stores today and you will see Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations vying for space on store shelves. It’s become a race to the finish line as one year comes to an end and a new one is right around the corner.
For companies, it’s a reminder that it’s time to start budgeting for the next year. Regardless of whether you are a small business or a large corporation, if you want to continue to reach your intended target audience then adding PR and marketing to your budget is essential.
Where to begin?
In a world filled with digital media, the opportunities continue to evolve, you just need to start taking advantage of them. The two biggest complaints I hear from small business owners is “I don’t have a budget for that” or “I don’t have time to engage in social media or public relations opportunities.” My response: “You can’t afford not to set aside even a small portion of your time and budget.”
If you have not even begun social media and PR outreach efforts, then you are already losing out to the competition. Google your competition, take a look at what they are doing. Are they on LinkedIn? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? YouTube? Yelp? Do they have a blog? Is their website fresh and up-to-date, while yours was created years ago?
So many options, so little time
Yes, there are a ton of social media options available today and you can’t be on all of them (well, you can, but it’s best to start small if you are just getting started). Pick one or two and go from there.
The recent tragedy in Orlando that claimed the lives of at least 49 people (as of this writing) at a LGBT nightclub has sparked an outbreak of social media ranging from outrage to the outrageous. Everyone from the LGBT community to politicians to the average person on the street, has (for better or for worse) been able to voice an opinion.
Some are designed to bring people together; others seem to do little more than try to further fan the flames and rip us apart. For companies and nonprofit organizations, the events of the past week also have served as an opportunity to step up to the plate and show support not only in words, but also in action.
Walt Disney, Darden Restaurants and the Orlando Magic, which call Orlando home, have pledged financial support to help those impacted. Jet Blue began offering free flights to the families of shooting victims. Nonprofits also have offered their support with one sending “comfort dogs” from as far away as Chicago and Iowa. Even some Orlando area Chick-fil-A franchisees, whose company president and COO has been a vocal opponent of gay marriage, responded by opening on Sunday to hand out free sandwiches and iced tea to those waiting in line to donate blood. Though a Chick-fil-A company spokesperson has said the decision is being made by individual franchisees and it is not a company edict.
Public relations is not just about getting your name, or the name of your organization, mentioned in the media. It goes far beyond that. As I explain to clients, public relations also has a lot to do with establishing yourself as a credible expert in your field.
Reporters and bloggers are always looking for experts to quote in their stories. And, while those in your field may consider you to be an expert based on your knowledge and experience, getting others outside of your field to recognize your expertise may take a little more work.
Using the following strategies can help you to build your reputation as an expert, which eventually will lead to increasing your media visibility.
Blog: Writing a regular (notice I said regular) blog is a great way to share your knowledge. Many business owners tell me they don’t have the time to write a blog, which is often why they hire me. Others love to write, but don’t necessarily have the skill. If you love to write and can, then go for it. If you can’t, you can always be interviewed and have someone else write the blog for you. Or, you can take a crack at writing it and then have someone else edit it. Whatever you choose, just make sure you blog regularly. Regular blogs are not only great for search engine optimization (SEO) but can serve as a great starting point when trying to get the media to learn more about you and your expertise. As you reach out to media contacts you can send some of the links to your blogs and tell them that if they are ever writing about such-and-such to give you a call. Blogs can be posted on your own website, or you can guest blog for others. You can also share your blogs on your other social media channels.
Being hired to handle an organization’s public relations is like getting married. PR pros often court a client for some time before landing the deal. But once the client “puts a ring on it,” some PR pros find the honeymoon can be short lived.
Just about every one of my public relations colleagues has a horror story (or two) they can tell about “the client from hell.” It’s difficult to turn down business, but sometimes it can be the best decision you ever make. I have done it and I am pretty sure I sleep better at night because I have.
Rather than rush to the alter, it’s best to take steps to spot what could become a troublesome client ahead of time and take steps to mitigate any potential problems that might pop up.
Get to know the early warning signs.
Ask the potential client ahead of time about their expectations. Are they realistic? Do they expect you to be at their beck and call 24/7? Do they expect to have their story told on CNN in the first few weeks of your engagement? Also, it’s best to make it clear upfront what they should expect from your efforts. Never over promise.
Most of my days are spent handling public relations and doing a lot of writing for my clients. It's not often I am afforded the opportunity to get my byline.
However, the Miami Herald's Business Monday editor recently afforded me the opportunity to write a column that provides some advice to those seeking media coverage. Click here to read my tips.
As we come to the end of another year I thought it would be a good time to reflect on all that has happened in 2015. I have been blessed with a wonderful family, good friends, exceptional business partners and a stable of clients who make coming to work every day fun.
I get to do what I enjoy and work with others who enjoy what they do as well. I can’t believe that Garton-Miller Media will be entering its third year in 2016. From everything I have read, most businesses fail within the first year, so I must be doing something right. I will let you in on the secret when I figure it out.
That’s not to say running a business is all fun and games. There are many things that involve accounting and bookkeeping that I would prefer not to have to deal with, but thanks to a wonderful (and very patient) woman who handles my taxes and takes my calls and texts on a regular basis, it’s been a lot easier. Thanks Maria!
I get to work from home and be there for my kids when they need me. I also get to work with my Golden Retrievers at my feet – it doesn’t get any better than that.
My nonprofit clients do so much good, it’s been a humbling experience to work with them.
Anyone who has ever worked in public relations knows it’s a career with many peaks and valleys. One day you are getting a client the media interview of their dreams; the next day they are blaming you for everything that is wrong with their business (or lack thereof).
It’s the peaks that get us through the rough times, but sometimes getting to the top is almost as tough as climbing Mt. Everest. Obtaining that much-sought-after interview rarely comes in the form of one-call-does-it-all.
Case in point, I had been pitching a reporter for months, every time my client put out a press release I would send our latest and greatest news to him. If I didn’t get the silent treatment, I got a “thanks but no thanks” or “I’m too swamped, maybe next time.” I was always pleasant and thanked him for his time. I did not tell him why he needed to write the story, nor did I demand to speak with his editor. (Believe me, there are some PR people who will do this. When I was a journalist I was on the receiving end of these kinds of folks).
I paid attention to his social media posts, commented when appropriate, read his stories and got to know him. Then one day we had more news to report. I pitched an angle I thought would fit and … got the snub again! Then something miraculous happened (cue the harps). He was working on another story that my client fit into and he asked us for an interview.
One of the challenges of being in the field of public relations is trying to explain to companies why they need your services. Many think PR is nothing more than another name for advertising, which could not be further from the truth. Others think public relations costs a lot of money. That, of course, depends on who you hire, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. When people ask me why their company or organization needs PR, here’s what I tell them:
Regardless of whether you are just starting out, or have an established business, hiring a public relations firm can help you to gain brand recognition and grow your business.
Susan R. Miller is founder of Garton-Miller Media, a full-service, South Florida based public relations firm. Susan is a former journalist with more than 30 years of experience. She has two daughters, two golden retrievers and two cats, but just one guinea pig who is happy not to have to share his cage or his daily stash of veggies with anyone.
Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli is a public relations pro's worst nightmare and proof that no matter how good your PR company may be, if you don't listen to their advice, it's going to come back and kick you in the teeth.
In case you haven't heard by now, Shkreli's company has been called out in articles around the globe for raising the price of its recently acquired drug Daraprim from $13.50 to nearly $750 a pill. What reason, other than greed, makes someone take a drug that's been around for more than 60 years and jack up the price some 5,000 percent. Daraprim is used to treat a parasitic infection that can be life threatening to some including those with AIDS and cancer.
By doing what he did, Shkreli has been labeled, among other things, the most hated man in America. Even Donald Trump called him a spoiled brat.
And, every day the news just gets worse for Shkreli. After taking to Twitter and essentially giving anyone who criticized him the finger, Shkreli put his Twitter account on private and backed down in the wake of a tremendous backlash. He's since come out saying it was all a mistake and he would lower the price of the drug.
But it's too little too late. He's being blacklisted by a lot of people, including the drug and biotech industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which tweeted "@TuringPharma does not represent the values of @PhRMA member companies."
Big Pharma's efforts to distance itself from Shkreli is in a sense ironic since it too has been criticized for years for essentially doing the same thing. He's even prompted Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to come up with a plan to take on the entire pharma industry. So, not only has Shkreli given himself and his company a black eye, but he's shone a negative light on the entire industry.
Garton-Miller Media is a full-service, South Florida-based public relations firm. Founder Susan R. Miller has 30 years of experience as a writer, journalist and PR professional.