Growing a business

5 Secrets Your PR Team Won't Tell You

Hannah Cranston

This article was originally published on

So you want to increase brand awareness, be featured in the media and become a household name? It's time to hire a PR team. But just like with everything else, all PR firms are not created equal.

Too many PR firms want you to think that the secret to getting press is some sort of black box that only they have the key to unlock. I've heard too many stories of businesses forking over sky-high retainers to agencies only to be told that the way to garner attention is to put out a press release once a quarter and pray that someone picks it up. Wrong.

I've also been in the room with a PR agency that informed a client that to be featured in the news, they had to do something spectacularly newsworthy. Wrong, again.

This line of messaging can be really demoralizing for leaders, who may start to think: "Well, maybe my brand isn't worthy of press attention." And that is really wrong. Your brand and your story deserve to be told, and I'm going to tell you how to do it.

While maintaining the illusion of the "black box" may work for some firms, I am not in the business of gatekeeping, so here are my 5 PR secrets to garnering media attention and making your brand a household name.

1. Press releases are not the best way to garner media attention

Forget what you've been told, press releases just aren't it. There's a time and place to craft a big announcement for your business carefully, but that should not be your entire PR strategy. Press releases are to new media, what snail mail is to email — your message will (read: might) be received, but not with the impact and efficacy you need.

Not to mention, journalists and editors are inundated with countless press releases every single day, and most of them just end up in the trash folder. It's not personal; it's just the reality.

In today's fast-paced digital world, PR teams need to be more creative and think outside the box. Instead of sending a generic press release, craft a compelling story that resonates with your target audience. Don't tell them what you're doing, show them why they should care.

2. Storytelling is more important than your pitch

When we think of PR, we often think of the digital media outlet that's publishing a story about your business or the sweet smell of the Sunday Times. Too often, we forget that behind the clickbait and rolled-up newspaper, there are humans. Real, live humans. And what do all humans have in common?

Spoiler alert: it's not the ability to review the pithiest pitch, but rather, emotion. This a scary word in the world of PR, but stick with me.

Contrary to popular belief, PR is not about the headlines but rather about evoking emotion in your audience to build a strong relationship and spur action. It's your story, not your PR team's pitch, that will give editors all the feels and help them see the value of sharing your story — and your brand — with their audience.

Crafting an authentic, engaging and human story is not easy, but it's the most powerful tool in your PR toolbox. A PR team who can develop an impactful narrative around your brand's values, mission and vision is your greatest asset to wield that tool.

3. Make your own news

One of the questions I get asked all the time in meetings with prospective clients is, "Isn't it just luck?" I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no such thing as luck when it comes to PR. And with the right PR team, that's actually the good news!

Don't wait for news to just happen to your brand. Find a PR team who knows how to create the news for you. Be bold, take risks and get a team working tirelessly behind the scenes with a strategic and calculated approach to make it *look* like it's just plain "luck." This requires a lot of creativity and fresh ideas outside the mold of traditional PR, but that's how you earn real buzz and attention for your brand.

4. TikTok could be better than your publicist

While your publicist is likely (and hopefully) not being banned in states around the country, TikTok's power and sway should not be underestimated. The app is the social media queen for viral content, reaching millions of people with the least time, effort and track record required.

I don't suggest you ditch your suit for a crop top and start dancing to the latest trending song anytime soon, but I do suggest you seriously prioritize creating content to target your audience and generate earned media attention.

We recently created a TikTok video for a client that went viral, not because of "luck," but with the intentional strategy of leveraging the virtual success of the clip to garner interviews with the press, a feature on a national morning news show and over 1B media impressions, in just a few weeks!

5. Firm < Fervor

The PR police might come for me for this one, but: the PR firm you choose does not matter. I say this as the owner of a PR firm and will happily die on this hill.

When it comes to your PR team, you need a brand evangelist, not a publicist.

Just because a fancy, name-brand firm can garner great press for Rihanna doesn't mean they can (or will) do the same for you and your business. It is way more important to find a team who is all in on you than one with a specific logo in their email footer. You need a team who treats your brand like its own and is just as invested in your success as you are.

I am so painfully passionate about every client I take on, and I know that to yield the best results, my team and I need to give 110%, 24/7. I cannot promise this kind of commitment to a business or brand in which we're not utterly and wholly invested. We eat, sleep and drink our client's businesses — and that's how we like it.

Making a brand a household name requires unwavering commitment. It requires fervor. It requires devotion. And it requires a team willing to pull back the curtain of the PR "black box" and, instead, be your brand's boombox. An outdated reference, but you get the picture.

But, to keep with the metaphor: shut out all of the noise and myths about PR, and use these secrets to turn up the volume. It's time to get loud.

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