You are currently viewing You and the Law |  Hiring a PR agency?  Don’t make these mistakes!  – Times-Standard

You and the Law | Hiring a PR agency? Don’t make these mistakes! – Times-Standard

“My husband, ‘Dean’, plans to start his own market research company structured very similarly to the part-time jobs he had in college: phoning people and asking questions about products or It would hire college students majoring in speech or theater, in addition to retirees who need to supplement their income.

“It will train them not only to recite from memory, nor to have a singsong, irritating sound, but rather to show that they care about the subject and to engage with respondents.

“He pitched the idea to random people he called, and by chance one of them owns a small PR agency, thought the idea was a sure money maker. , met with us and pitched us an expensive publicity – thousands of dollars a month campaign and secured us articles in major business publications as well as TV interviews about Dean’s idea.

“It looked convincing but it was under high pressure and we were put off by the guy’s refusal to put us in touch with his clients. As you have many sources of sound advice, we would appreciate your opinion. Do we really need to hire a PR company? What are the red flags? Thank you, Holly.

PR: Hiring a publicist is often misunderstood

I ran the couple’s question by Nicole Wool who is a friend of this column and, in addition to being a publicist, is also a lawyer. His advice? “Run away from this guy! »

“People often don’t understand what advertising is, why they think their business needs it, and are led to believe that its purpose is to generate sales. is not what public relations does. It’s marketing. If you hire a publicist because you’re trying to increase sales, you’re in the wrong arena.

“With advertising, you can calculate how much it costs to acquire a customer or make a sale. But PR is not really quantifiable. So if your goal is to increase sales, devote resources to advertising. This is one of the reasons why there is a frequent disconnect between what PR clients want and why they feel they are not getting the desired results. »

What is PR? Bad assumptions made by customers

So what is the function of public relations? Wool explains that a public relations firm or publicist:

“Manages how information about an individual or company is communicated to the public, enhances a brand’s credibility and general awareness, and responds to negative events in a way that will hopefully minimize their impact. Success depends on building and maintaining good relationships with journalists, issuing well-written press releases, posting on social media and other places that keep the public or a specific audience up to date on what is happening. what the customer is doing.

But, Dave has only one idea. Does he need a publicist?

Wool’s response? Nope!

“That’s where it’s easy to get ripped off because there are a lot of people out there who would take the couple’s money and get no results. A publicist is working with something that exists – a product, a book, a film in production – something concrete that hopefully has a unique quality that will make it stand out.

Additionally, she described the assumptions and behaviors that lead to deception:

(1) Think of a publicist as a magician and a miracle worker.

We can’t pull rabbits out of a hat at the last minute and suddenly get a front-page story in a major news outlet or a national TV show. If the media has never heard of you or your brand, it takes time for them to decide if they want to cover you. This does not happen overnight.

(2) Expect to pay piecemeal. Tell the publicist, “We’ll pay you as you go.”

It does not work like that ! You ask a publicist to work for free. Reputable PR professionals usually need a 4-6 month contract, are paid on a monthly basis, and results are never guaranteed.

Off-the-shelf PR scammers will agree with anything you come up with! They will charge much less than a well established company because they are not well known. In for money.

(3) Don’t micro-manage!

Engaging in micro-managing behavior, especially in crisis situations, is frustrating and leaves the publicist feeling badly treated. If there is no emergency, don’t treat the publicist as if the house is on fire.

(4) Thinking that bigger is better. Failing to realize that competent public relations does not come cheap.

Believing that only a great agency can get the exposure you need in the press is flawed reasoning. While large companies can and often do great work, for a small publicist each client usually means more than for a large PR firm which may have many clients at once.

Properly done PR is a big expense and runs into thousands of dollars a month. Run away from anyone charging $1,000 a month!

The wool has listed 6 red flags which mean: “Stay away from these people”.

1 – They make lots of promises of fantastic media coverage at the start.

2 – They are willing to work for little money.

3 – They refuse to provide references or proof of past campaigns.

4 – They refuse to allow you to speak with a former client if you ask.

5 – If they say, “I will tell them that if this newspaper or media outlet doesn’t cover you, I won’t give them access to my other big clients.

Concluding our interview, Wool cautioned, “Legitimate advertisers will never take advantage of one client for another. It’s unethical and just plain bad business.

Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and welcomes comments and questions from readers, which can be faxed to 661-323-7993 or emailed to Also visit

Leave a Reply