That’s a great question. Over the years I have met with many organizations, nonprofits and folks asking the same question. First off — an organization close to or in a crisis. The news is full of organizations that did not seek PR counsel. Often, they underestimate the danger of a crisis — and see themselves as a victim. Time and time again an organization in crisis circles the wagons in a defensive tactic. And, this fails because in wrapping themselves in pity, they come off as being tone deaf and lacking in empathy. Then, many will put out random messages that are not tested or in sync with the real world and they dig deeper and deeper into crisis — losing the one thing they need to survive: Trust. This combo of sticking one’s head into the sand and acting like a victim limit options, burn goodwill, and often result in the firing of leadership, and years of mistrust.
A crisis is not easy, call a professional in and get help.
Then, there is the organization that has no brand. I see a lot of this and call it the yard sale effect. This means every document, poster, webpage, and email looks different — as if not one but 12 organizations were at work. This is so common, and really confuses the heck out of the customer/client. A lack of consistency and image has a sobering effect. It lowers your connection to the people you need, and means they don’t have an idea of what you do or what your values are. Think about it, we pay more for brands we value and associate with. So, if you have no brand, you are missing a world of opportunity and profit — so get a PR firm. Lastly, so many organizations fail to tell their story. And this can be a fatal flaw. So many organizations have wonderful backstories and values, but they fail to share them so they just don’t stand out. Others present innovative solutions, but they never blog or tell us how they are unique.
So, let me end by saying why the PR approach is different from an advertising approach. Ads are often quite creative. They can get our attention, but fail to get us to do anything. Think about any memorable ad. Then ask the question: Did I buy that? Often the answer is “NO.” You may recall the ad, but not the product. PR is different. We start by looking at what people are thinking now, what you want them to think, and then come up with plan to change their thoughts and behavior. This comes down to messaging, storytelling, and empathetic outreach. It starts with a strong visual and communicative brand, consistency of message, and then ways to get your advantage and unique needs out.
PR works, and it is adaptive and has real ROI. It can save your reputation in a crisis, and get you the advantage you need to be competitive. That’s why you hire a PR firm.