Mark’s likely among the most business savvy people in any boardroom he enters, he’s more technologically savvy than his peer group, his glibness makes him a great media interview, he exudes more passion than a sailor on shore leave and he owns a wallet thick enough to allow Tom Cruise to stand on it and look Katie in the eyes when kissing her good night.
He’s just dead wrong in his counsel to fellow entrepreneurs about for not hiring a public relations firm. Here’s five reasons why:
1. Mark summarily dismisses the likelihood a public relations consultant provides quality management counsel that would favorably impact the start-up’s operations, business development and profitability. The knowledge base and skill set a PR consultant brings to a management team far exceeds sending emails on the client’s behalf.
2. In counseling the entrepreneur to personally execute a media relations strategy, Mark’s glibness leads him to commit a major faux pas. He fails to acknowledge and/or understand the complexity and importance of a messaging platform. Mark might be able to wing it during a public appearance, but he’s among the very few possessing that ability. Crisis communication pros make a very good living pulling politicians and business executives out of the proverbial ditch after comments are made before their brains were engaged.
3. Let’s assume Mark’s media relations strategy of paging through a few magazines, reading blog posts or watching TV shows proves effective — it won’t be — and the wily entrepreneur’s e-mail or phone call lands a coveted media placement. Everything goes well when the reporter asks the first question, “Tell me about your product/service.” Now comes the hard part. The interviewer asks a series of follow-up questions referencing a topic you aren’t prepared to discuss.
Like many of the entrepreneurs who fail on Shark Tank, the failure to properly prepare for both the questions you are eager to answer as well as those you hope are never asked, coupled with the failure to have a seasoned PR pro negotiate the interview parameters, will produce the catastrophic demise of a once promising business concept.
4. Mark also appears to assume the nascent business already has all the money it needs through private or public financing. In the broad-brush counsel Mark provided, he overlooks how a PR consultant will foster communications between corporate management, current shareholders, potential shareholders, securities analysts and other financial community constituents to consistently maximize new client agreements that demonstrate to the industry and the competitors that the start-up is consistently growing.
5. By focusing his rationale on media relations, Mark fails to tell his audience about how valuable a marketing communications component is to a company’s broad-based communication strategy.
A PR pro constantly investigates avenues to position the entrepreneur and the product/service in high-profile placements that provide additional exposure outside of the news media. B-to-C companies have demonstrated a well conceived and executed social media (SM) strategies is far more responsive to customer interaction than traditional media relations. While growth is occurring within B-to-B industries, SM campaigns are proving to generate data-driven results that clearly illustrate market share increases and a viable return on investment (ROI) for the company.
Perhaps Mark had a bad experience with a PR firm at one point in his career and he’s now dispensing wisdom that summarily dismisses all PR firms. Yes, there are bad PR firms just like there are bad attorneys, or accountants or HR specialists. Regardless of Mark’s experience, the reality is all five of the above outlined steps are executed daily by PR firms supporting FORTUNE 500 firms.
While the economic scale between a FORTUNE 500 corporation and a start-up obviously differs, the communication outcomes can be very similar. A well-executed comprehensive communications strategy will result in the entrepreneur gaining stature as an industry thought leader and performance metrics are available to illustrate how a campaign produced consistent market share growth.
Who knows, maybe the next wallet Tom borrows will be from an entrepreneur that dismisses Mark’s counsel.