I once met a woman with a long and enviable career in public relations who told me, “The thing about PR is that once you know how to do it, you can do it for any client – any company in any industry.” That is true to an extent – a big part of mastering PR is knowing how to craft a good story and make sure you’re targeting the journalists who want to be part of telling it, regardless of who your client is. On the other hand, companies shouldn’t underestimate the value in hiring a PR firm that specializes in their industry.
At Ditto, we work with an excellent variety of clients, but the list of industries they span is fairly short: financial services, technology, education, health and marketing. We actively seek out clients in these industries because we know that the depth of our knowledge and experience allows us to provide more value to them than other firms can. Here are a few reasons why:
We understand these industries and the issues that affect them. As we’ve mentioned before, a competent PR professional starts his or her day by scanning the news for any stories that affect his or her clients and create opportunities for them. We pride ourselves on getting up to speed on what issues impact our clients and their perspective on them as quickly as possible. However, the learning curve is obviously less steep when your PR team is already well-versed on your industry’s current affairs landscape.
Our goal when working with new clients is to get to the point where we don’t need to take time out of our clients’ busy schedules to get their commentary on industry news – we know what issues they care about and what their point of view is, so as soon as news breaks, we can work on inserting our clients into the story. For us, that process takes weeks instead of months due to our expertise in those key industries.
We’ve already cultivated relationships with the reporters our clients want to target. Because our clients typically come from a handful of industries, the list of media we engage with on a regular basis is a relatively small one. That means that when we begin working with a new client, chances are that we’ve already worked with many of the most important reporters for them. Because we work with several clients who are relevant for any given reporter, we’re able to reach out to them often to provide a variety of different story ideas. We’re also keeping regular tabs on what these reporters are writing about and taking note of their interviewing and writing style.
We can group clients together to make pitches more impactful. Because reporters typically quote more than one source in any given story, it’s a good practice for PR professionals to offer them multiple sources whenever it makes sense. For example, because we’ve worked with an SAT prep company and a platform to manage student loans, we were able to pitch a story about the cost of paying for college and getting into college. Because we were able to offer up both clients, we were able to pitch a more complete and interesting story.
A lack of expertise may not, in and of itself, be a reason to not hire an otherwise outstanding PR firm – some of our most successful and fun accounts have been with clients who didn’t fall into the industries we generally focus on. However, for many companies, finding the right PR firm can be a daunting task, and zeroing in on ones that have demonstrated expertise in your industry can help pinpoint the ones best suited for your organization and its goals.