At our mid-sized architecture office, I wear many hats: My official title is marketing coordinator, but I’m also administrative whiz, technology trouble-shooter, and webmaster. Our partners recently decided to commit to working with a public relations firm, but I’m not quite sure what they’re looking to accomplish. Can you advise me on where, oh where to begin? How do I figure out what that means, and then find the company that’s right for us?
Millinery-Maddened Millennial in Minneapolis
Well, Millinery, it’s good to know that someone else has not skipped off to the beach for the summer! Otherwise, the Doctor would get very lonely in the office—talking to the plants is good for a little while, but inanimate objects are not always the best office-mates. So, I’m glad you are reaching out, and you have come to the right place!
There’s nothing that I like more than a good strategy, which is the first item on your PR agenda. Most important, from the outset, you need to establish some goals. Just think about it: you can’t run a race without knowing where the finish line is! So, when your partners say they want to hire a firm, what exactly are they trying to accomplish? Many people think that public relations is press, and that’s a big part of it. If that’s your goal, then you have to determine what kind of press you want: local or national; business press, trade, or design press; project-related articles or trend stories.
Now, the Doctor tries to make it easy for you, of course, but she also wants to give you a lot of options! And, don’t forget, it’s probably some combination of all these things. Some people are “either/or” types, but I like to think of myself as a “both/and” person when it comes to outreach. On that note, going beyond press, you should also think about other ways of building your influence. Let me be clear: we love press—yes, we think it’s the bees’ knees—but you can also get a lot of buzz through speaking engagements, professional organizations, and being active on social media.
See, Millinery, I bet there’s a lot more than you bargained for! But the Doctor wants to point you in the right direction. I suggest that you try to get as many specifics as you can from the partners, and that will help you figure out what kind of firm you need to bring on board. When you have your goals, you can look for the right partner.
On that note, it’s low tide, and I’m off to the shore to stick my toes in the sand….