A Marketing or PR Agency, Or Go It Alone? Part V
Still with me? This is the last post in a five-part series—one where I try to help you figure out whether you’re truly ready to work with a marketing or PR agency.
As you weigh all your options, I want to leave you with one final thought: Marketing is never as easy as it looks.
Sending a press release seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? You just decide what you want to say, type it up, press a button and put it across the wire. Then just wait for the phone to ring, right?
Press releases are terribly misunderstood. They aren’t instant tickets to fame. They’re only small components in a much larger machine that, if you’re really lucky, might put you on the map.
At FiComm, every press release follows a seven-step process.
The first step is to find something that’s actually newsworthy. You have to understand: reporters receive thousands and thousands of press releases every day. They never even glance at most of them. If you want your news to stand out, you need a unique angle. A hook. Something that grabs a reporter’s attention—not yours.
Personal pitching is really important. In advance of every press release, we develop a list of reporters to target. Then we chase people. We advocate for coverage and follow up with phone calls and emails to make sure your news gets in front of a live human being.
As you can see, press releases take a lot more time than people realize.
Messaging is equally under-appreciated. It’s funny: advisors don’t understand why messaging is as expensive and time-consuming as it is. At the same time, they acknowledge that everybody in the industry sounds the same. Clearly, if messaging were easy, more people would be doing a better job of it!
What makes messaging so hard is that advisors don’t know what makes them different. It takes a unique skill set to run a discovery session and drive a meaningful conversation to uncover points of distinction. That’s why messaging is not a matter of dictating and typing. It’s about listening and understanding—distilling an advisor’s life’s work into something that’s relevant and credible to a specific audience.
A lot of advisors come to us with their own favorite slogans and catchphrases. Those are fine internally. But they don’t realize how cynical the press has become. Reporters have heard it all before. Your messaging has to be different. It has to be sharp.
It also takes a huge effort to keep it sharp. Once a messaging document is written, we have to shepherd it through edits, push back on changes, remind clients of their goals, and explain why every new revision isn’t going to work.
Over and over, clients tell us they’ve tried to DIY their messaging before, but the process didn’t yield anything useful. Well, of course not. Messaging is an art, and you have to pay for really great art.
There’s also more than meets the eye when it comes to content creation. Advisors say, “How hard can it be? These are all my ideas. You’re just putting them on paper and designing around them.” In reality, an advisor talks to us for 20 minutes. They might truly have a great idea. But it’s disorganized and unfocused, with no major highlights, no compelling call to action. Yes, it’s your idea—but it’s not marketable. Our job is to organize your thoughts in a way that’s relevant, noticeable and useful across multiple channels. Something you can tweet, put into an ad, send us an email, drop into a newsletter, or express as an infographic.
At the same time, we also watch the landscape and keep tabs on your competitors. What are they talking about? What are people reading? What are experts saying? Where can we find an opening to participate? No advisor ever puts that much research into developing a blog post.
So, there you have it. This is the end of my five-part series of posts on hiring outside agencies.
If you choose to go the DIY route, you can now jump in with your eyes open. And if you decide to hire an agency, you have an inside perspective that can help you get the relationship off on the right foot.