PR Does Not Mean Prime Rib
By Jordan Chanofsky, CEO
Out on a Thursday night at your favorite steakhouse, should you be a meat eater, the aroma wafting from nearby plates of prime rib stirs your emotion and causes you, almost forces you, to order the same. You probably chose that very restaurant born out of a sudden urge to have steak. Unavoidably, your actions became a victim of impulse.
In marketing, impulse is the linchpin in the selling process connecting the timing and placement of products to the intended action, the purchase. Impulse, once again, masters emotion and rational behavior. It appears that it is this same impulse that often drives the acquisition of services. This has always fascinated me about PR and marketing. Far more frequently than not, it is a milestone or deadline that drives the selection of an agency to support an effort. Fine. Buy it when you need it. There is some sense to it. However, many areas of marketing, PR specifically the key example, are designed for long term commitment and temporally built attitudes. Deploying PR for an event or a specific initiative might succeed at attracting attention in the short term but it won’t change attitudes unless used in the long term. And more suitably to the subject at hand, it is the concept of starting PR far in advance of an event that creates the attitudes, conviction, credibility, visibility and in many cases valuation for a company. Wouldn’t it make sense to establish one or more of these goals before an event occurs? PR isn’t Prime Rib. It isn’t a consumable product that you choose when your appetite is just right. It is a carefully planned, deeply exercised effort that needs time to effectuate the outcome.
While it’s true that you can’t do PR for a product that doesn’t exist (meaning in-advance programs may not be possible), it’s the company brand that’s in my crosshairs. Too often marketing leaders seek to establish positive attitudes about all their products, credibility, knowledge about what the company stands for and their products, but use a singular event as the focal point. This short-changes the value of the PR program and leaves marketing executives feeling disappointed.
I suggest that companies stop trying to imbibe as much out of PR as they can in a short period of time, like the last of the meat on the bone of a rib steak. Consider PR as a tightly integrated part of the marketing mix. Start it and use it as a long term strategy for achieving a range of objectives. PR is about introducing new things or making existing things seem desirable and understandable. So give reporters a chance to acclimate to a new idea, test it, throw it against a wall and perhaps some analysts. Let statistics play itself out through consistent and large numbers of positive articles and blogs. Let the credibility establish itself through consistent messaging in the media over time. The measurements will show far more value over sufficient timespan than during short spurts.