Save Money in 2017. Stop doing PR!

Has Carina been on the Christmas Babycham even earlier than usual this year? Why would she suggest such a thing?

Well it’s because the way you are doing PR …. is simply a waste of money.

Of course I want you to do media relations. But I can tell you now that the way most software and service firms approach PR makes the experience essentially worthless. You could express it in algorithmically like this:

  • Step One

Invite agencies in to bid. Choose the one offering the biggest promises, with the nicest offices, the most amenable juniors, the lowest bid

  • Step Two

Tell the agency what you want to say. Watch, pleased, as the juniors take miles of notes and then parrot out your messaging.

  • Step Three

Get frustrated as you never get any coverage, especially in the tier one press your customers read and find credible.

  • Step Four

Fire the agency, tell yourself, ‘They didn’t understand us!’

  • Return to Step One


Now be honest with yourself  – do you “recognise” these steps. This is what? – 95% of the process for most vendors?

What you might have spotted there is that the input from the nice agency that got chosen was, shall we say, rather minimal. After all the activity of winning the account, they seem to have become a bit of the silent partner in this relationship.

The problem is that you never gave them a chance to do anything else. As far as you were concerned, they were there simply as a medium to get your message out.

Here’s my issue with that (and it should be yours): You never used their experience or input at all. Hence my provocative, Turkeys-voting-for-Christmas cry of, DIY. Destroy It Yourself.

Trust is a better value in comms than passivity

My claim is this: if you hire a PR agency going in unprepared to listen to them, trust them, allow them to shape, place and structure your voice…

You honestly might as well just buy a media contact list and do it yourself. (You’ll be surprised at how your ROI is the same; both exercises will give you almost no results, or results by accident, if at all.)

Let’s end the Hire-Fire-Hire PR firm treadmill

Now let’s flip it. Imagine if you hired someone and then sat back and listened to them. Imagine trusting someone to do more than be a frictionless way for you to talk about your product and how great it is. Try and envision someone acting – as it says over the virtual door here at Sarum Mansions – as ‘The Guardian Of Your Voice.’

We like to think that all of our clients here at Sarum think of us as just that. And we are delighted to say we have just done very well, yet again, in the prestigious League of American Communication Professionals, or LACP, Awards for 2016. Specifically, we won the top -– Platinum level – award for the impact of a global campaign we spearheaded on behalf of our great graph database client, Neo.

I don’t want to rehearse all the details of that work again (but they are here, of course, if you are curious). But this is what it showed me; the client had had a previous chance at similar global coverage some years back but hadn’t been able to capitalise on it. So when this opportunity came up again, for that reason – they didn’t want to miss it.

So instead of just seeing their PR firm partner as the vehicle for the message, they worked with us to let us frame the story, trust our input and advice, time the release of it, pick and choose who to target and brief on the media list and how to best engage with them… they trusted us.

And the impact? Literally global. Worldwide. TV, business press… trade press. Bloggers. Social media.

Yeah. Coverage, all right.

The trick – if there is one at all here – is to use the power of Brand Journalism, not the (dubious) power of the media list. Like a great Commissioning Editor, let the PR firm take your story and not send it out with no value-add… let the guys improve and position it for you.

Do that, and you know what? It may just get you off that pointless hire-fire-hire PR company treadmill, and get some great results.

Can I just finish by sending out a big high-five to all the guys who helped us win this award, especially the management of Neo and the great people at the ICIJ. What an achievement! Thank you so much!


Founder of Digital PR & Brand Journalism agency, Sarum

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