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...

April 27, 2016

Use Your Data To Make Smarter Marketing Decisions

Learn which marketing metrics are important to your business, measure successes, and learn where changes are needed.

Read More

April 26, 2016

“Bee-Friendly” Labels Matter To Plant Consumers, According To Study

Research at Michigan State University shows ornamental plant buyers understand and respond to bee-friendly production practices.

Read More
Krause Berry Farms Farm To Table Dinner

April 20, 2016

What The Floriculture Industry Can Learn From Farm Marketers (And Vice Versa)

Although we have a lot in common with the produce industry, there is much we can learn from one another.

Read More
Latest Stories

April 27, 2016

Use Your Data To Make Smarter Marketing Decisions

Learn which marketing metrics are important to your business, measure successes, and learn where changes are needed.

Read More

April 26, 2016

“Bee-Friendly” Labels Matter To Plant Consumers, Accord…

Research at Michigan State University shows ornamental plant buyers understand and respond to bee-friendly production practices.

Read More
Krause Berry Farms Farm To Table Dinner

April 20, 2016

What The Floriculture Industry Can Learn From Farm Mark…

Although we have a lot in common with the produce industry, there is much we can learn from one another.

Read More
Costa Farms Container Ideas E-Book

April 12, 2016

Costa Farms Targets Consumers With New Container Garden…

The electronic book offers tips on container selection, design, and plant care for millennials looking to grow in small spaces.

Read More
Tropical Fruit Tree Selection (Hopkins Tropical Fruit Nursery)

April 7, 2016

University Of Florida Research Shows Consumers Value Lo…

Compared to conventional plants, consumers reported a higher purchasing likelihood for certified organic or organically produced fruit plants.

Read More
Random Acts Of Flowers

March 31, 2016

The Floriculture Industry Needs A Unified Message To Pr…

Seeing the sneak preview of the new varieties that will be presented at California Spring Trials (CAST) spurs a visceral reaction in me. I’m giddy and excited about these gorgeous plants, having taken in some of their beauty and excellent performance already at Costa Farms’ Season Premier. I’m excited to travel to Spring Trials and that spring is coming, and I’m ready to dig in and get gardening. I’m guessing many of you feel the same way. And it’s likely that consumers do, too. Nearly a year ago, upon returning from California Spring Trials, I lamented the absence of ideas translated from CAST to retail. The beautiful displays, the breathtaking combinations, the clever marketing — somehow, all of that effort and enthusiasm focused on business-to-business promotion is not being funneled effectively to the consumer. As an industry, we are not good at working together to market our products in a clear, […]

Read More
Sakata Seed America President David Armstrong

March 30, 2016

Sakata Signs Agreement With Indonesian Government To Co…

This week, Sakata Seed Corp. announced internationally that it has signed an agreement with the Republic of Indonesia to cooperate in the further development and production of its line of SunPatiens interspecific hybrid impatiens, based on the principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Under an agreement based on the CBD, Sakata Seed has worked with the Indonesian government since the early 2000s to identify the origin of the native germplasm collected in Indonesia to develop SunPatiens, and the two parties have agreed on how the indigenous genetic resources will be used for the further development of SunPatiens. There are currently only a few cases in the world of such an agreement, based on the CBD in the category of horticultural plants, made between a resource-rich country and a commercial seed company. Greenhouse Grower contacted Sakata Seed CEO David Armstrong to provide context about this agreement, what it means […]

Read More
NGI-SunPatiens-Compact-Hot-Coral-Sakata

March 23, 2016

P. Allen Smith Says SunPatiens Are Hero Plants For Cons…

Plants that ensure consumer success with disease resistance bred into their genetics, and ease of use in a variety of conditions, are heroes for gardeners, especially beginners, and they should be celebrated and supported to promote gardening success and interest. These are the messages the award-winning designer, gardening, and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith wants the horticulture industry to know, with the recent announcement of his expanded partnership with Sakata Seed. In an exclusive interview with Greenhouse Grower, P. Allen Smith describes his expanded partnership with Sakata Seed to promote SunPatiens and why the now 10-year-old series helps both novice and expert gardeners to be successful. Smith also collaborates with Sakata to promote the HomeGrown Collection of vegetables. SunPatiens Set Consumers Up For Success, Smith Says As a plantsman first, Smith has extensively trialed SunPatiens in his gardens at Moss Mountain Farm in Little Rock, AR, and says he is […]

Read More
Suzanne McKee

March 18, 2016

4 Pitfalls To Avoid With Responsive Web Design

When implementing responsive design on your website, sidestep these common problems with some advance planning.

Read More
1 800 Flowers Instagram Women's Day

March 15, 2016

Society Of American Florists Uses Social Media To Take …

SAF strategically promoted five key Facebook posts to expand its reach beyond its followers and prominently featured Women’s Day on its other consumer channels.

Read More
Mason Day Great Plant Debate Campaign For GrowIt!

March 3, 2016

GrowIt! App Founders Look To Make Waves At The Chicago …

Mason Day and Seth Reed will hold a “Great Plant Debate” at the event, while updating the GrowIt! app with information on every plant featured at the show.

Read More

February 26, 2016

How To Recruit Loyal Customers With Facebook

Facebook is a powerful engagement tool that when used effectively can help you attract and retain faithful customers.

Read More
Greenhouse Vegetable Marketing

February 18, 2016

9 Tips To Maximize Your Greenhouse Vegetable Market Pot…

Set yourself apart by sizing up your competition, evaluating your demographics, and putting customers first.

Read More
GrowIt! Logo

February 9, 2016

GrowIt! And MasterTag Partner To Enhance Plant Care Inf…

The partnership allows MasterTag to provide plant care instructions to the wide catalog of plants available on GrowIt!, which helps consumers find plants in their area.

Read More

January 27, 2016

Costa Farms’ Season Premier Provides Sneak Peek A…

Costa Farms presented the 2016 Season Premier at its 2-acre Trial Gardens in Miami, FL, in the third week of January. The event showcases varieties from breeders of all sizes to growers and major retail buyers, providing a look at what genetics are coming to the market and how they’ll perform in retail settings and in the landscape, when consumers bring them home. The mild winter climate in South Florida allows Costa Farms’ Research and Development Department to simulate the spring growing conditions of various regions in the country. Because each group of visitors to Costa Farms’ Trial Gardens wants to see what the new plants look like in the environments that matter to them, Season Premier offers several areas within the Trial Gardens that highlight different ways to look at the wealth of new varieties. The New Product Showcase offers a way for retailers to see how plants will […]

Read More

January 26, 2016

Beekenkamp And Danziger Partner To Distribute Poinsetti…

Danziger is continuing to expand its portfolio of products to the U.S. market with the addition of poinsettia cuttings of Beekenkamp’s varieties.

Read More
Houseplant Featured Image

January 21, 2016

How To Improve Consumer Interest In Indoor Foliage Plan…

Researchers discover why there is decreasing consumer demand for indoor foliage plants and suggest ways to overcome hurdles to purchasing.

Read More
Bee On Flower

December 29, 2015

Scotts Miracle-Gro To Fund 50 Pollinator Gardens In 201…

In an effort to help combat the loss of pollinator habitats in recent years, the Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. announced plans in mid-December for a year-long effort to improve consumer education about pollinators and promote the creation of backyard and urban habitats where they can thrive. The “Pollinator Promise” will fund the establishment of at least 50 pollinator gardens throughout the U.S. in 2016, as part of the company’s GRO1000 community gardening initiative. The GRO1000 initiative, now in its sixth year, partners with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Pollinator Stewardship Council, The Franklin Park Conservatory, and others, to promote the availability of additional grants for gardens and green spaces throughout the country. “The importance of pollinators is unquestionable and it is easier than most people think to create a habitat where they can thrive,” says Jim King, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Scotts Miracle-Gro. “The Pollinator Promise is […]

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]