Public Relations: DIY Or DIFM

Where public relations (PR) is concerned, the question often surfaces: "If you can do it yourself (DIY), why would I want someone to do it for me (DIFM)?" The rationale behind utilizing the services of a consultant or firm is sometimes a matter of inherent circumstances, such as your internal staff is too busy or untrained to manage PR, you are unprepared to manage an internal PR manager or you find that the cost of retaining an experienced firm can be less than hiring a full-time, junior-level employee to manage PR. Many of my clients have shared with me that their biggest reason for using a firm is it frees them and their employees to concentrate on their foundational business practices. It allows them to benefit from "controlled" rather than "uncontrolled" PR.

However, time and management are not the only advantages a PR firm can bring to the table. PR firms are specialists in the discipline of public and media relations, offering a unique set of skills that can equate to growing your brand, customer traffic and sales through tactical messaging and marketing. PR practitioners make available opportunities to broadcast your business, product and service news to the media, which can be a mix of trade and consumer magazines, newspapers, product guides, newsletters, Web sites, blogs, radio and television programs and others.

When working with most firms, you can expect the professionals managing your PR will be experts in concepting, planning, writing, scheduling and performing publicity campaigns, a cost-effective means to promote your business and build public cognizance for, and interest in, your inventory.

Which Way From Here?

If you are uncertain as to the particular category into which you fall – whether the DIY or DIFM categories, or, perhaps, even the Do Some Of It For Me (DSOIFM) group – the following tips should prove helpful when deciding to retain a PR firm:

Need Fresh Perspective – Retain a PR firm when you desire fresh marketing perspective, creative approaches to address competition and access to market research, industry statistics and media contacts. A qualified firm can provide overall coordination of marketing and media resources and efforts. Some even offer advertising planning, scheduling and negotiation of ad space rates.

Want Help Increasing Outreach – Hire a firm if you need to boost your promotions, enhance how you market and announce product or stock introductions or grow your target audience outreach. Good firms create unified and comprehensive marketing plans based on their clients’ marketability characteristics and ROI expectations.

Desire To Be Heard Among the Competition – Begin to search for a firm if you seem to endlessly read about your competition in trade or consumer magazines, or see them quoted as experts on all things home and garden in area or regional newspapers. A devoted firm will find and solidify continuous articles and radio interviews to publicize you and your business and products. Usually at a higher level of service, television coverage is also a service option. Certainly, some of these aspects for marketing your business can be achieved without the help of a PR firm, but be sure the internal assets, know-how, contacts and time are readily available if you decide to go it on your own.

Finding A Firm

When searching for a firm that understands your business model and can develop new strategies to garner brand awareness and media coverage, it is possible to narrow the list by outlining your objectives, interfacing with industry peers and assessing all possible options. Begin with the following guidelines, and, most likely, the process will simplify beyond what you might expect.

Verify Industry Position – First and foremost, always start your search for a PR firm in the industry. Successfully working in the home and garden industry requires a certain level of knowledge pertaining to horticulture, plant material, tools and, surely, consumer trends. It is essential to select a firm that has a proven background in the field, is able to write advanced plant or other product profile information, and can knowingly design and channel your publicity programs. Ask any firms you are considering if they manage PR for clients outside of the industry – in such trades as financial, technology, hospitality, healthcare, etc. If they have clients in multiple industries, chances are they are not primarily focused where you and your customers are situated. Many firms have multiple divisions, names and LLCs, meaning they work within one industry under one name and in other industries using separate, additional names. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, but consider your choices carefully. It is a given that it makes sense to work with a firm solely devoted to your industry.

Qualify Capabilities – Before purchasing a new car or even a new pair of shoes, you probably shop around, look at availability and explore your many options. Most of all (I hope), you ask questions before you buy. Apply these practices when searching for a PR firm. Inquire about each firm’s history, staff make-up, industry experience, client references and fee structures. Ask for samples from each firm on your list. Since you hope the firm you select will land you media coverage, they should be able to easily and quickly provide samples of written and published articles with their staff bylines, press clippings, copies of radio interviews, etc. Many firms say they have done industry work, but their trade-based samples are lacking. This is a likely telltale sign they are not equipped for your scenario.

Execute Request for Proposal – One of the most prevalent ways to settle on a well-matched firm is to execute a request for proposal, commonly referred to as the RFP process. This is your opportunity to outline your needs as you see them, note specific problems or issues the firm should address for you, provide specific insight and information about your budget parameters and current marketing programs. In short, ask the questions you feel will make your decision easier. In many cases, RFPs require meetings with management from both companies with the goal of ample information sharing. Upon receiving the submitted proposal, read and reread, looking for how the firm suggests it will manage your PR, the ways in which it proposes to develop strategies and a timeline for recommended execution. Do not expect a full-fledged PR plan at the proposal stage. This is typically what happens once you become an actual client and your specific program plan commences.

Chemistry And Synergy

Keep in mind that while working with the media to publicize products, businesses and services may seem natural and easy, most people find it overwhelming. No matter the public relations firm, or even if you decide to employ your own PR efforts in-house, it is important to work synergistically with your chosen team. Good chemistry between business owner and PR practitioner is a key element to achieving a scientific approach that leads to results.

Leave a Reply

More From Marketing...
Status of Marijuana US Map May 2015

May 29, 2015

Marijuana Legalization Updates

As of April 2015, 23 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some capacity. At the federal level, several bills are currently awaiting action. Here is an update on current state and federal marijuana legislation across the U.S.

Read More
cannabis, marijuana plant

May 29, 2015

Making The Decision To Produce Medical Marijuana

Should horticultural growers consider cultivating medical marijuana? That’s up to the individual grower, of course, and certainly a number of growers already have jumped in. We at Meister Media Worldwide, publishers of Greenhouse Grower and American Vegetable Grower, do not necessarily endorse nor oppose the production of medical marijuana. But we do feel it is an option worth exploring. We intend our “Medical Marijuana” series of articles to give you information you need to make your own call. We hope you find it useful, and we do welcome your comments, thoughts and ideas as we continue to cover what we’re fairly certain is only going to be an increasingly viable and growing market for this emerging crop.

Read More
Double Whammy Merchandise Display At CAST2015

May 28, 2015

Grow Inspiration To Grow The Horticulture Industry

We need to work together as the horticulture industry to inspire and instruct consumers with our plant knowledge and marketing expertise.

Read More
Latest Stories
Double Whammy Merchandise Display At CAST2015

May 28, 2015

Grow Inspiration To Grow The Horticulture Industry

We need to work together as the horticulture industry to inspire and instruct consumers with our plant knowledge and marketing expertise.

Read More
Plant-Select_for-web

May 28, 2015

PlantSelect.org And FindPlants.net Assist Consumers Wit…

The recently launched PlantSelect.org and FindPlants.net websites offer growing and maintenance tips, where-to-buy information and design ideas to help consumers have success with growing and finding plants.

Read More
Four Star Greenhouse Proven Winner Plants At English Garden

May 26, 2015

Retailer To Grower: It’s Time To Offer Services To Loc…

Retailers wonder why mass merchants are the only ones to receive stocking, merchandising and plant care from growers.

Read More
New Guinea Impatiens

May 14, 2015

10 Tips To Improve Retail Shelf Life Of Bedding Plants

Good-looking plants at retail lead to stronger sales and less postharvest shrink. Try these 10 ideas for maintaining quality and keeping plants looking beautiful.

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

May 12, 2015

Suntory And GrowIt! Garden Socially Partner On A New Se…

Three different contests will run from May through early August. Garden center retailers can upload their own photos or encourage their customers to enter and win.

Read More

May 6, 2015

Orange Is The New Green: An Interview With Dümmen Orang…

The day the news came out about the name change of DNA Green Group to Dümmen Orange, and everything that meant for the large flower breeding conglomerate, Greenhouse Grower Editor Laura Drotleff talked with Dümmen Orange Operations Manager Kate Santos about what the identity shift would mean for the company, its customers and ultimately for consumers. What’s going to happen to the brands and what was behind the decision to do away with those brands and consolidate? A key objective for our organization in moving to one corporate brand is to continue to stay true to the heritage and history of the individual brands that have made us what we are today and what we will build the future of our company upon. For this reason, some of those brands that have a deep-rooted history and much more recognition within the market, will have a longer persistence in our overall […]

Read More

May 1, 2015

Restoration Landscapes: A Specialized Market For Nativ…

Restoration landscapes, depending on their purpose, often require straight native species, along with a confirmation of their known provenance. Research is key in this area and good recordkeeping is a must.

Read More
Dummen_Begonia_UnbelieveableFirstKiss

April 29, 2015

Dümmen Orange Is The New Name For DNA Green Group

DNA Green Group has a new name: Dümmen Orange. The company revealed its new name, logo and brand values at all of its facilities in 16 countries on Thursday, April 23. The well-known corporate brands Lex+, Bartels, Terra Nigra, Dümmen Group, Agribio China, Agribio Colombia, Oro, PLA, as well as the production locations, are changing their identities immediately to Dümmen Orange. Other established brands like Rijnplant, Ecke, Oglevee, Red Fox, Fides, Japan Agribio and Barberet & Blanc will convert over limited time. The company’s CEO Biense Visser calls it a logical next step. “All companies that have been acquired have a rich and successful history,” Visser says. “We have always tried to respect that heritage. Doing so, we created confusion for our customers. Our employees expressed a preference for a more uniform approach to the market, too. That is why we have chosen one large umbrella brand that embraces the entire product […]

Read More

April 15, 2015

Redesigned SunPatiens Website Offers New Tools For Saka…

Sakata Seed America's new and improved SunPatiens website launched March 1, 2015 and provides growing information, marketing support, product location and many more tools to encourage consumer success with SunPatiens.

Read More
Keenland

April 13, 2015

Proven Winners Partners With Award-Winning Designer Jon…

Proven Winners will partner with award-winning garden designer, author and fine living expert Jon Carloftis on a new series of four LIFE + STYLE events in 2015. In true Carloftis style, food and spirits will be paired with inspiring architecture and innovative garden designs featuring Proven Winners plants.

Read More

April 13, 2015

New Consumer Website Makes Buying Roses Easier

A new website has been created as a resource tool for gardeners who are looking for a rose that fits their needs. This website is 100% consumer focused and will inspire confidence and promote rose gardening to the next generation of gardeners. Visitors will also find links to connect on social networks, such as Facebook and Pinterest. The website promotes roses, not specific brands, and that is what makes it unique.

Read More
Rose rosette on Knockout rose, April 2012. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 25, 2015

$58 Million In APHIS Farm Bill Funding Will Support Hor…

Nearly $58 million as been allocated by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to support the industry's Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program, under Farm Bill Section 10007. The program will support mitigation efforts for specialty crops, including providing research and other funding to address plant pest and disease priorities for the specialty crop industry, including floriculture and nursery crops.

Read More
National Floriculture Forum 2015 029

March 18, 2015

2015 National Floriculture Forum Focuses On Marketing I…

The 2015 National Floriculture Forum, held March 6 to 7 in Minneapolis, Minn., zeroed in on the topic of marketing in horticulture and included visits to Gertens Greenhouses and Garden Center, Bailey Nurseries, Bachman’s Floral, Home and Garden and Tangletown Gardens. The annual meeting allows greenhouse and floriculture faculty, graduate students and industry partners to meet and share updates on current research, issues and initiatives.

Read More

February 18, 2015

Range Of Nursery Inspections To Protect Patented Plants…

Plant patents are under protection, and breeders are fighting for their rights to keep growers from illegally propagating protected varieties. It's something you don't want to take a chance on, because the risk is far higher than the reward. More than 300 inspections were carried out last year from New York to British Columbia and from Ontario to Florida to protect plant patents, Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) and branded programs.

Read More

February 4, 2015

TPIE 2015: An Electrified Industry Vibe Boosts Cool New…

The general feeling at the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association's 2015 Tropical Industry Exhibition (TPIE) was upbeat and positive. Attendees were inspired by exciting new products and varieties, as well as creative new displays and innovative ideas and left energized for the season ahead.

Read More
Costa Farms Website

January 21, 2015

Costa Farms’ Launches New Interactive Website

Costa Farms is making efforts to educate consumers while pushing horticultural digital marketing forward with the re-design of its website. The new website features a fresh design and improved navigation, as well as a plant finder that gives gardeners easy access to plant information.

Read More

January 5, 2015

Growers Are Successfully Marketing The Benefits Of Pla…

Growers who are already marketing plant benefits and gardening as a lifestyle say they think this could be the best angle for the floriculture industry to promote our products.

Read More

January 5, 2015

Plants Love You Campaign Raises Plant Benefits To Foref…

Plants make us feel good. It’s a no-brainer, backed by numerous studies, but there’s more to the story. And it’s one the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance (COHA) hopes its Plants Love You campaign will tell in such a way that it will inspire people to make plants a part of their life, and on a bigger scale. COHA is an alliance between the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (CNLA), the Fédération Interdisciplinaire De L’Horticulture Ornementqale Du Québec (FIHOQ) and Flowers Canada Growers (FCG). Inspiration for The Plants Love You campaign came from COHA’s research, which revealed that 96 percent of consumers surveyed have a favorable attitude toward plants. When COHA delved deeper into the numbers, one thing stood out loud and clear. “It quickly became apparent that while consumers like plants because they are pretty and make them feel good, few understood the environmental and health benefits plants offer.” says Frank […]

Read More