Even the most seasoned veterans in PR face new challenges on a daily and weekly basis. Through their experience, they’ve learned and taught, the difference between reacting and responding to employees and even clients.
Yet, there are still difficult questions that many public relations professionals have to stare straight in the face and respond to with confidence and poise. Whether you’re just starting out with a new client, or vetting a prospective client, it’s important to consider which questions you need answers to.
Below, these 15 PR pros share questions everyone in the industry should know how to answer.
John White, communications/PR consultant, shares:
Why do I need PR?
— John White (@4jlwhite) October 8, 2021
Nearly every PR professional has heard this question at least once in their career. I’m willing to bet that many were caught off guard and weren’t quite sure how to respond. So, what does one say to prove the value of PR? Thankfully, we have some answers for your right here.
Bob Neufeld, says:
What do you bring to the table that can help me (my organization) succeed?
— Bob Neufeld (he/him) (@BobNeufer) August 17, 2021
Considering PR is more trusted than advertising is nowadays combined with the new privacy laws that restrict advertisers, the answer to this question can have varied consequences. Think about what makes you or your company unique. Is it media relationships, a proven track record, a seasoned team? All these plus more aid you in landing a new client.
Tonya McKenzie, all-around PR badass, agrees:
What is your specialty and what can you show as an example of your success?
Everybody practicing public relations should be able to answer that off the top of their head even if they are just beginning. 😊🖤🙌🏾
— Tonya McKenzie, LA County Commissioner (@TonyaMcKenziePR) August 17, 2021
Brayden James, PR pro at Maracaibo Media, asks:
What is PR going to do for my business?
— Brayden James (@BraydenJamesPR) August 18, 2021
Relating to the answer above, PR is a trusted way of building a brand’s credibility with its target audience. It’s more genuine and authentic, and while there might be more the business is looking for (e.g. sales) we should consider this next question.
What is the goal? What stakeholders do we want to reach and why?
— Rachel Ford Hutman (@RachelHutman) August 17, 2021
Rachel Ford Hutman, CEO of Ford Hutman Media, points out a question every PR pro should be answering in the initial stages of campaign planning. Knowing what goals need to be met and how to track them effectively are vital to campaign success. We’ve written about this and you can learn more about it here.
As with any investment, the return is an important reason to continue or discontinue your strategy, Kincaid Public Relations agrees:
ROI – know it! Learn how to speak about it, show it, prove it, relate strategy to it and everything else.
— Kincaid Public Relations & Connections (@KincaidPR) August 17, 2021
Kerryn Fields asks one of the most interesting questions, one I hear a lot from other pros:
Can you guarantee results?
— Kerryn Fields (@Kerryn_Fields) August 18, 2021
This is an interesting approach that many have provided as a USP for clients and one that isn’t necessarily true, in my opinion. What do you think?
Once you’ve made it through the initial question phase, typically when you’re being vetted by a new or prospective client, then comes the exploration phase.
Mary Whenman, a seasoned and decorated PR veteran, says
What’s the mission
What does your company do
What’s the story
Those are obviously the good times answers😀
— Mary Whenman (@marywhenman) August 18, 2021
It’s important to truly know all there is to know about your client once you being a working relationship. After all, reporters are going to be asking questions that sometimes even CEOs and Founders don’t readily have answers to. Be proactive in asking all the right questions and even ones you might need answers to in the future.
Making a clear distinction between PR and marketing is equally important. Jan McGinley says:
The difference between marketing and PR and earned and paid media.
— JLMStrCommunications (@jenlmcginley16) August 17, 2021
While we PR pros can easily answer this for others it might not be as clear in practice. Earned media, paid media, and owned media are all very different from one another and your clients should be aware of the benefits each has on the campaign.
When it comes to questions about media relations, here are some to consider:
What do journalists want?
— Michael H.-H. (@michaelhelher) August 18, 2021
Michael Heller asks a question I think all of us really would like to know the answer to. My recommendation? Just ask the journalist you’re trying to work with.
The difference between a newswire and getting news placed
— Gina Shaffer (@GinaDShaffer) August 18, 2021
Gina Shaffer, PR consultant, mention another critical question every PR pro should know the answer to. While sending out a release on the wire can garner a few backlinks on sites, it doesn’t necessarily mean that was a placement secured. Be open with clients about this and set expectations to avoid any confusion down the road.
Emma Taylor (Jeffs), Head of EMEA PR at Forcepoint, says:
“Why weren’t we in that article?”
— Emma Taylor (Jeffs) (@rubycat) August 18, 2021
There’s nothing that hurts quite as much as seeing a competitor or competitors in an article without your client or brand mentioned. Having a strong pulse on journalists in your space is a must but just because they wrote about company A doesn’t mean they’re also including company B.
Setting clear expectations especially when it comes to pitching is key. Lacey Trejo, says:
The difference between news and fluff in order to guide and educate clients accordingly, and meet expectations. Also, differences between strategies and tactics.
— Lacey Trejo (@LaceyTPR) August 17, 2021
Journalists do not like fluff therefore your pitch shouldn’t contain it either. For some that can start with a conversation between them and their client before the pitch is ever written and the media list compiled.
This question from Idea Grove resonated closely with our team at OnePitch:
PR practitioners should be able to clearly outline what their company’s news means in the bigger picture. Everyone thinks their announcement is groundbreaking (and it may be), but know why it matters here and now – at this moment, in the our society and to your industry.
— Idea Grove (@IdeaGrove) August 24, 2021
Seeing the full picture, knowing the impact and importance, and conveying all of this succinctly is not easy nor is it learned overnight. Sometimes you might have to ask out-of-the-box questions to uncover the right answers.
And finally, this one deserves a LOL from WaterPIO:
Are you available at two in the morning?
— WaterPIO (@WaterPIO) August 17, 2021
This is by far one of my favorite blogs to have written because all of these questions are ones each of us should be thinking about and crafting answers around. Did we miss a question you want to add to this list? Send us a tweet @onepitchsaas with yours!
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