When most people born after 1980 think of an international PR agency, they might be thinking of Samantha from Sex and the City. Not really sure what she does, but she is on top of all the trends, sits in fancy restaurants and cafés and gets invited to the VIP parties of the VIP parties.
Is that what our normal work day looks like? I hate to break it to you, and to myself, but no. It is not. There are perks to the life of a PR professional, and it is exciting, inspiring, fun, and even exhausting at times.
To bust a few myths about life at an international PR agency, here’s a list of what our work at San Francisco Agency actually looks like.
Myth number one: You get all the best products from clients
Indeed, sometimes our office is flooded with cool products from microplastic-free packaging to books about measuring your success as an entrepreneur, and other cool stuff.
But do our skins glow and are our bookshelves at home filled with inspirational books? Not really.
International PR agencies often hold items from their clients to have them ready for showcasing in case a journalist wants to test them at any given time. Then you must be ready to demonstrate the product or send it to them. Not very glamorous to queue in a post office to send off a parcel.
Myth number two: You just write press releases
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Even if press releases are usually the core of your press relations, how you handle the distribution to journalists is the key to your success.
At San Francisco Agency, we do write a lot of press releases. I mean, according to our PR tool Valosan, only in September 2022, we sent out press releases to over 10,000 journalists. But that was because we had dozens and dozens of releases going out.
What we do before the sendout is the key. We identify 10–20 VIP journalists to whom we pitch the story under embargo. They get a chance to receive the story before the publishing date, so they can do their own research, interviews, and preparation.
Press releases are not dead as a form of informing the journalists. But sending out press releases that are not well targeted and not doing VIP pitching is truly a no-go.
On top of press releases, at least half of the time we are helping our clients to use PR to its maximum potential through editorial articles, keynote speeches, opinion pieces, and other tools that PR professionals have up their sleeves.
Myth number three: It’s all about fancy luncheons and networking
If you know a PR agency where this myth is reality, please connect me with them. The truth is that even if our clients invited us to lunch every day, we wouldn’t have the time to join all of them.
On average, everyone on our team has 8 clients a month. This means that in addition to having great relationships with journalists, writing skills, and pitching knowledge, we need to be experts in multitasking.
This does not mean that we work overtime or on weekends. We do not. But we do work efficiently throughout the week to make sure that all of our clients get their campaigns done. If you want to work in an agency that specializes in companies that are on the hockey stick of international growth, you need to be prepared that our work pace is also fast and quite proactive.
Myth number four: You are best buddies with all journalists
After years of working together, yes, we do have good relationships with a lot of journalists. But have we ever even met with them? Not necessarily. You don’t have to go out for drinks with a WIRED journalist to get them to publish your story.
It all comes down to your way of working with them. If you pitch them relevant stories, give them enough time to react to them, and help them shine in their work, you’ll most likely be the person whose emails they will open (out of the hundreds or thousands they get daily).
It is highly recommendable to chat with industry journalists during events or utilize other possibilities to make your company recognizable. This does not mean you should run after every journalist and immediately start to pitch your story. Try to figure out what they are interested in right now, if they are working on stories that you could contribute, and just in general, let them know what is cool and different about your company.
Final myth: Your clients are featured in Forbes all the time
Can you hear that? It’s my heart weeping.
Although we do get our clients to Tier 1 media, like in the past year we’ve been on Forbes, Bloomberg, The Guardian, Sifted, TechCrunch, and so on, that does not happen on a weekly basis.
The reason is that companies don’t have Tier 1-worthy news to announce every week. Certainly PR professionals’ connections and expertise help immensely to get the right journalists to read your pitch. But at the end of the day, it’s all about the story.
Is it newsworthy enough? Does it affect enough people? Is it something unheard of? Does it surprise and educate the reader?
From the 1,093 media hits we generated for our clients in 2021, the majority are still high domain authority trade publications, or other interesting media outlets that are not the top 10 business media outlets in the world. And that is perfect. Often our clients’ main audience is reading a very niche media outlet that has news just for them and their industry. So don’t ignore smaller but powerful media outlets in your press relations.