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PR Is Long-Term, Goal Oriented
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By Donald Levin

PR works best when an organization commits to achieving specific several-year, annual, and shorter-term communication goals.

Some examples: becoming known as one of the top ten companies in a business niche; creating a minimum number of sales inquiries per month; raising a capital pool; introducing a new product to
distribution channels and end-users.

The best client/PR firm relationship takes months to develop, then improves over the years. One client in New Jersey has employed us some 20 years (sees us only twice a year) and gets excellent results and value. A Massachusetts CEO has had us work for three companies over eight years, and a British client has used us for a series of six-month projects.

* Chemistry between client and PR firm is the number-one indicator of success. We like our clients, and we think they like us. We feel
comfortable making creative suggestions and pushing executives to
do difficult things they know will help them--like speechmaking or
being interviewed.

No one likes surprises, however, so we're sure to keep everyone informed every step of the way.

* Purchasing hours per month or per project is the smartest way to buy PR services--as opposed to a flat monthly fee for unstated time. PR firms have one thing to sell--hours of manpower. Clients buy best efforts during that time, the same way they buy consulting, accounting and legal services.

A PR firm provides the most value for the hours the client is buying. A client has to make its wishes known, be available for interviews, monitor progress (which the firm constantly reports), and stay involved.

* PR is "ink." Yes, we've had clients for market research, crisis
avoidance, and consulting projects--but by and large, PR clients
want business and trade magazine stories almost exclusively.
Consumer marketers want broadcast as well.

The second we take our eye off this target is the second we're providing marginal services to most clients.

* Ink flows from close editor/client relations. Face-to-face inter-
views are most productive; phone interviews second best. Next come by-lined articles and guest editorials, followed by pin-pointed
mailings with editor phone calls before and after the mail (or fax).

In general, mass mailings of releases with no calls are least effective. Two exceptions, however, are very powerful stories and stories of high interest to a large number of media.

* "Marketing Public Relations" (our bread and butter) consists of
research, plus ink, plus merchandising.

Market (or opinion) research tells clients what they're really up against and where their niche may be. Ink (publicity) generates inquiries, sales and position. Merchandising keeps the publicity out in front of the sales team, distribution channels, referral sources, and prospects.

Merchandising motivates and educates distributor and company sales forces. Many companies--especially smaller ones-- underestimate the value of this publicity feedback function. Salespeople appreciate the flow of informative material they can use with customers. (Smaller, more frequent doses are better, incidentally.)

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