Choosing a PR Specialist is Not as Simple as ABC
Posted on 2018 Apr,18  | By Bahaa Fatairy

Bahaa Fatairy, Founder and Managing Director of BR Communications, offers some tips on how to choose the best PR consultancy from the many options available to the ME market.

Public Relations or PR for short is so much more than press releases these days. This field of communications, along with other arms in media, has developed tremendously over the past decade or so with forecasted changes and challenges ahead. Whenever there is mention of a ‘new’ challenge or trend in PR, many jump to the conclusion that the new trend or challenge revolves around social media, and how it can be used in PR. This is no longer a new trend or challenge. Many experts have now established great strategies for social media for PR requirements, but there are some who will still try to sell the social media bullet as the newest trend, beware of these ‘experts’.

PR is an enigmatic profession, and requires a specialist with expertise in the field as well as a personality to communicate amicably with media professionals, and the character to handle gruelling deadlines set by both you, the client, and the media. So, with these three factors in mind—PR industry development, PR specialist, and your requirements—how is it possible to choose the best PR consultancy from the many options available to the ME market?

Here are some tips.

Tip one: the person is as important as the company. The paragraph above suggests some qualities that PR consultants or professionals should possess. But there are other things to consider as well. It is important that you and your soon-to-be PR point-of-contact, or account manager, can converse and understand each other clearly. This is not just about speaking the same language, but being on the same wave length on what strategies are best for your brand and product. While the PR specialist is the expert whose views should be trusted as they are backed by experience, as the client if you feel uncomfortable or if you feel unheard, address these concerns before they grow out of hand.

Tip two: choose experience. When it comes to PR, there are many options in the ME market, and some companies offer their services at very cost-effective rates. Do not eliminate these options just on the cost, assuming they do not have experienced professionals who know more than what the age of the company or their quotation suggests. Ask the relevant questions from the potential PR manager, and find out about their personal and business portfolio. Picking an experienced individual will help in developing the most relevant PR strategies for your brand and product.

Tip three: keep up with the trends. Many experts opine that the importance of the press release is waning. This could be true to a certain extent, and that extent is the location in which you are conducting business. In the ME, the press release is not dead, it has just house! Press releases now live almost entirely online, and this is a good thing, because most people read or receive their news through websites, news portals, and social media platforms. Getting a press release published in any of the ME newspapers is rare, but it does happen.

But the good PR specialist will know there are other channels in which to get the ‘word’ out, and some of these may position your brand better than a press release. Good and strong content creation and development will focus on quality, and not quantity, as such, if your PR specialist suggests an opinion article in a tier one magazine, that is great value and coverage! Imagine a two-page spread in a widely read business magazine without having to pay the magazine, that is good PR!

Content creation has other avenues such as the setting up of interviews, and feature articles with journalists of trade magazines, and newspapers. All of these are great when they are part of an integrated communication strategy.

An integrated communication strategy is where some companies lose the plot when it comes to their social media platforms. An integrated communication strategy or marketing plan is important so that a brand is sending out the same message across all media platforms, but in different forms. What works for print, and online media will not work for social media platforms. So rather than repeating the same format through by posting a link on the company social media page, think of utilizing infographics, especially for important company findings.

Tip four: automation beckons. The PR industry too will benefit from the development in automated technologies. Artificial Intelligence will be able to carry out media monitoring, basic research, and other time-intensive chores such as data analytics. The advantage in this for the client is that PR company has invested in its own future and growth by relying on technological innovation to help free out precious time and human resources to pursue more creative solutions for the company’s products and brands, as well as been able to respond to crises more effectively.

Tip five: let the experts bring in the change. PR is changing. For instance, the popularity of the social media influencer is expected to decline while some PR professionals are turning to ‘paying’ for media space over the traditional PR model which has ‘earned’ media space through good media relations, and high-quality content. However, while it may seem exciting to use these new trends, let your PR expert decide on the best course, because, remember, they have the necessary experience.