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...
Petal-it-Forward

October 3, 2017

October 11 is Your Chance to Petal it Forward

The Society of American Florists’ “Petal it Forward” campaign returns in 2017. Learn how you can participate in this day of spreading kindness through flowers.

Read More
Micandy Gardens Team

September 17, 2017

4 Ways Micandy Gardens Greenhouses Reaches Out to Millennials

Micandy leverages social media to get the word out about its products and spread the word about how flowers can make a difference in people’s lives.

Read More
Costa Farms Exotic Angel Idea Book

September 12, 2017

Costa Farms’ New Lookbook Offers Consumers Ideas on Best Plants for the Home

The new “Bring Your Home to Life” lookbook is a curated collection of more than 300 unique plant varieties best suited to grow in homes and offices.

Read More
Latest Stories
Petal-it-Forward

October 3, 2017

October 11 is Your Chance to Petal it Forward

The Society of American Florists’ “Petal it Forward” campaign returns in 2017. Learn how you can participate in this day of spreading kindness through flowers.

Read More
Micandy Gardens Team

September 17, 2017

4 Ways Micandy Gardens Greenhouses Reaches Out to Mill…

Micandy leverages social media to get the word out about its products and spread the word about how flowers can make a difference in people’s lives.

Read More
Costa Farms Exotic Angel Idea Book

September 12, 2017

Costa Farms’ New Lookbook Offers Consumers Ideas on Bes…

The new “Bring Your Home to Life” lookbook is a curated collection of more than 300 unique plant varieties best suited to grow in homes and offices.

Read More
Certified American Grown Flowers

September 5, 2017

Certified American Grown Flowers Names New Third-Party …

The organization’s new partnership with Where Food Comes From Inc., an agriculture-focused certification company with more than 20 years of experience, will be launched via video conference on September 14.

Read More
Container Gardening

September 5, 2017

14 Consumer Gardening Trends That Have Stood the Test o…

In early September, the Garden Media Group will unveil its 2018 Garden Trends report. To whet your appetite, here’s a look back at several trends that remain relevant today.

Read More

August 29, 2017

Know Your Grower: New Platform Brings Consumer Transpar…

The new Follow Your Flower or Plant vignette from MPS allows consumers to learn all about the producers of the plants and flowers they see at retail, and how sustainably their products are grown.

Read More
green-plan-it-gardening-outdoor-nature-explore-classroom

August 29, 2017

First-Of-Its-Kind Federal Grant Designed to Stimulate C…

The National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture has received a USDA grant to help develop strategies and tactics to grow the practice of gardening 20% by 2025.

Read More
Luxfloraflowerrun17

July 20, 2017

Luxflora Attracted Even More Participation to its Secon…

More than 170 runners kicked off Cultivate'16 on Sunday, July 16, with Luxflora's second annual 5k race. It was a great way to start the week, participants said.

Read More
National Garden Bureau 2018 Year of the Calibrachoa

July 15, 2017

National Garden Bureau Announces Featured Plants for it…

Plant classes recognized include bulb crops (tulip), annuals (calibrachoa), vegetables/edibles (beet), and perennials (coreopsis).

Read More
cut flower arrangement

July 5, 2017

Congress Designates July as American Grown Flowers Mont…

Last week, Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) introduced a bipartisan resolution designating July as “American Grown Flowers Month.” Co-sponsored by Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (WA-03), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA-50), Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Rep. Don Young (AK-1), Rep. Jared Huffman (CA-02), and Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-49), House Resolution 413 declares July as the month to celebrate the economic and cultural impact of America’s cut flower and greens farmers and demonstrate Congress’ commitment to support America’s flower farming families. Congressman Carbajal spoke from the House Floor, introducing the legislation and encouraging fellow members of Congress to support American Grown Flowers Month. “I have seen firsthand the value the grown flower industry adds to our economy and communities during my visits with our Central Coast growers,” said Rep. Carbajal. “California produces three quarters of all cut flowers grown in the United States. I am committed to recognizing their contribution […]

Read More
PlantHaven Team 2017

July 2, 2017

PlantHaven Wins Medal of Excellence Award for Marketing

After 20 years of making the world a more vibrant, colorful place, PlantHaven wins Greenhouse Grower’s Medal of Excellence Award for Marketing for its groundbreaking ability to connect breeders, growers, and consumers through personable advertising campaigns.

Read More

June 1, 2017

Reimagining a Brand: How Did We Do With Greenhouse Grow…

Changing the design and content strategy of a brand isn't easy, but we think the new Greenhouse Grower will help carry our innovative industry forward and allow us to better serve your information needs.

Read More
NICH Plants Do That infographic feature

April 11, 2017

New Infographic Highlights Economic Impact of Plants

A new report from the National Institute for Consumer Horticulture shows how horticulture positively affects people’s lives wherever they live, work, shop, and play.

Read More
National Garden Bureau New Website

March 22, 2017

National Garden Bureau’s New Website Features Mobile-Fr…

The new site is designed to serve as a home base to drive traffic from NGB’s social media community to one central location.

Read More

March 7, 2017

Local Florists Celebrate Women’s Day and SAF Prom…

Florists across the U.S. are celebrating International Women's Day, March 8, and raising awareness for non-profit organizations. The Society of American Florists is raising its own awareness of what happens when women receive flowers with a new video for International Women's Day.

Read More
Savor New Website

February 16, 2017

Pleasant View Launches Updated Website for its Savor Ed…

The site is designed to offer a friendly and informative vehicle that delivers product information in an easy-to-navigate format.

Read More

January 24, 2017

Beekenkamp Plants B.V. to Take Over Marketing Sunny Ost…

Beekenkamp Plants B.V. will take over Sunny Holland B.V.'s marketing activities as of July 1, 2017, and begin offering Sunny Osteospermum to the supply chain.

Read More
gg-january-2017-cover-arizonaeast-feature

January 5, 2017

Why ArizonaEast Is Expanding Its Succulent Production T…

In Greenhouse Grower's January cover story, learn how Brian and Joe Vitale of ArizonaEast saw a chance to expand and diversify their New Jersey-based succulent operation, and why they jumped at the opportunity.

Read More