One of the oldest adages any sports public relations agency has to listen to is ‘surely, all publicity is good publicity’? It isn’t. There will be some advisors who disagree but very much like the stance of ‘see you in court’ in the opinion of ENS, it is a strategy of diminishing returns.
There is one type of good publicity, namely the sort that gets the message you wanted across – and many types of bad. Here are just a few examples of things that we regularly see
1. Failing to understand why PR is required: We frequently receive sports PR briefs from prospective clients saying they ‘want PR’ but failing to say what PR needs to do achieve beyond ‘awareness’. We fully appreciate the power of awareness but it isn’t an end in itself. Establish exactly what is this awareness is to achieve and you are significantly further down the road of creating a sound campaign
2. Not agreeing what success looks like: This can apply to any PR brief and is as much the fault of the agency as the client. Setting to work on an initiative without both sides understanding what constitutes success is ill-advised and usually results in disappointment all round. It is important for all parties to know what the client is looking to achieve and, not least of all, what level and type of coverage is going to make them happy. This includes both traditional PR and online public relations.
We once won a piece of business where the client required public relations support and challenged us to bring an new idea to every meeting; after six months not only did the client look a bit awkward every time we talked through the ‘idea of the month’ not one idea was adopted. We asked the client what the problem was – bad ideas? Lack of budget? Wrong strategy? Nope, the client looked sheepish and explained that ‘We only want trade PR really but one of the Directors involved in the pitch gets excited about really creative consumer PR. We only threw in that challenge to appease him and never thought any agency would ever follow up on it.’
3. Celebrity at any cost: Undoubtedly a relevant celebrity can help your message get cut through – but choose them with care, especially when it comes to sport PR. Make sure you have the celebrity confirmed before you talk to journalists, it is a sure-fire way to incur their wrath if you promise them Brian O’Driscoll the deliver Brian Dowling, Similarly any personality who fronts a lot of campaigns may guarantee you a slot in the Mail Online, but consider whether the feature is as likely to be remembered for the celeb as the product, service or cause they are promoting.