5W Public Relations, in New York, New York, USA was named Public Relations Agency of the Year in the PR awards categories of The 2013 American Business Awards. (Entries to The 2014 American Business Awards are now being accepted. Get your entry kit here.) Agency founder Ronn Torossian shares with us his views on the relevance of media relations today.
Every year, the argument of how “PR firms are overrated” or “You don’t need a PR firm” floats about, usually thanks to an influencer who doesn’t see the results he anticipated or because of an article in the mainstream press. As the CEO of a large PR firm, I am not angered by these comments; rather I appreciate the discussions they foster. As 2014 begins, we media relations experts must continue to showcase our ability to lead the communications discussion and execution by understanding the following:
1. Crisis communications issues are magnified. In the past, a company could botch an order, have an employee do something stupid, make a big quarterly loss, or experience some other major dilemma, then simply wait for the crisis to blow over. Now, mostly due to the advent of the Internet, crisis issues can destroy companies if they aren’t handled correctly.
It can begin as a blog post that is tweeted and is then seen by a small town reporter who writes an article that gets picked up by a wire service … the next think you know—BOOM!—a horrible story about your company is on the front page of the Huffington Post and your competitors are stealing your clients and customers.
So, what role can media-relations experts play? They can navigate these waters by speaking with the blogger and getting the post revised, or maybe they can jump on the phone with the small town reporter and explain where the blog post erred in its reporting and why it’s NOT a story.
Someone without a communications background may be ill equipped professionally to tackle these issues.
2. Everyone is a reporter… literally. Because we all have blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter handles, LinkedIn profiles, and more, companies need to tread lightly around sensitive issues, yet be aggressive in their promotion of positive ones.
Understanding who are the correct bloggers to reach out to, or which introductions to make at conferences or trade shows—not to mention who to respectfully stay away from—are not skills learned overnight. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of crafting smart messaging—and delivering that message to the correct people.
Companies that adhere to the “any publicity is good publicity” adage are often found by outsiders to have inconsistent messaging and confusing company structures. This can sometimes result in missed stories that should have been big—or small, negative stories that should have been killed. Being able to discern the difference between an opportunity and a pitfall are two things that any media-relations expert can identify.
3. … While influential Print/Radio/TV reporters are getting harder to find. While it is true that these days everyone and their neighbor is a reporter, the truly influential traditional reporters still exist. Your parents are not crazy, and many people do still read publications like The New York Times, Rolling Stone Magazine, Entrepreneur, and The Wall Street Journal cover to cover—and not on their Kindle. EVERY industry—no exceptions—has at least four or five reporters from whom all the experts, bloggers, specialists, etc. take their cues.
Knowing who these influencers are, and having the relationships to make introductions and to generate coverage that moves the needle, are the most important reasons for companies to hire a public relations firm.
4. SEO is of high importance. This should come as a shock to no one. An entire industry has been built around search engine optimization and online reputation management, and the connection between these and public relations cannot be ignored.
Having online media results that rank very highly—especially when these reflect company messaging or are a ringing endorsement of your company—such results will not go unnoticed, particularly when third-party members of the media draft them. Prospective buyers, clients, and partners do perform due diligence, and having the online reputation to support your business is what makes the difference between an incoming lead or a phone that doesn’t ring. And its just as important to have the volume of online content to battle negative reviews, false stories, and other content deemed detrimental to ones brand.
These objectives can all be met by having a media relations team in place to build positive online search results filled with media coverage.
5. Content marketing both requires and creates a need for PR. Yes, even in 2014, people still use brochures and one-pagers for marketing. They also use—perhaps more than ever—webinars, white papers, video, and e-mail marketing. These are all tools most marketers keep in their work belt.
Public relations outreach is often what drives people to download, sign up, or request more information for content marketing tools. More importantly, once that e-mail address is captured or that trade show is booked, something needs to be delivered. This is where media articles, videos, and sound bytes can best be utilized. Rather than sending out an email blast telling your prospective leads how great your company is, you can send out that same blast with a Forbes article, which will do all the telling for you.
Public relations experts know that media results speak for themselves—and they know how to use them to get results from your marketing practices.
Read more on the 5W PR Agency’s blog.
About Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian is the founder, president, and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations (5WPR), a top 25 US PR Agency with more than 100 employees. Ronn is known for his resourceful, results-focused approach and for his close relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians, and celebrities. Under his leadership, the firm has become one of the fastest growing agencies in the industry, with work that spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional businesses, government agencies, and academic institutions, managing both their routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues.
Ronn has been recognized as a semi-finalist for Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year and named to the "40 Under 40" lists of both PR Week and Advertising Age. The country's most influential media frequently feature Ronn's commentary and opinion on reputation management issues. His book, For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations, was released in 2011. Ronn is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and serves as a board member of numerous non-profit organizations. Ronn was born and raised in New York City and resides with his family on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
About 5W Public Relations
5W Public Relations is a full-service PR agency known for innovative programs that engage with businesses, individuals, and ideas. With over 100 experienced professionals serving clients in industries spanning Beauty & Fashion, Consumer Brands, Entertainment, Food & Beverage, Health & Wellness, Travel & Hospitality, Technology, Nonprofit, Corporate Communications and Reputation Management, Public Affairs, Crisis Communications, and Digital Strategy, 5W provides leading organizations and individuals with a resourceful, creative and results-oriented approach to communications.