Ad hoc PR and the perfect summer tan

We’ve had a spate of enquires about ad hoc PR services recently.  Disillusionment with current providers, budget pressure and limited resources seem to be turning an increasing number of companies away from committing to ongoing PR retainers.  This, combined with the fact that writing this coincides with the arrival of “The Beast from the East,” at the end of what feels like the longest winter ever, might explain why this month’s post explores the similarities between public relations and the perfect summer tan. 

It’s actually not such a strange comparison.  PR is all about creating a good impression, presenting a positive image of your brand and making your company look as good as possible.  Regardless of what the doctors say about the dangers of UV rays and their warnings that any change to skin tone indicates damage, everyone knows you look better with a tan.   And, whether you’re working on your tag lines or tan lines, we’re all searching for a quick fix. 

suntan and ad hoc PR

There’s no shortcut to a natural tan though – it can take weeks of regular basking to build up a golden glow.  In the same way, increasing your company’s visibility and building your reputation requires constant PR activity. 

Variety is also important – just like you need to change positions regularly to achieve an even tan, so your public relations activities should include a mix of activities and tactics.  While press releases and editorial pitches are important, you also need constant social activity, blog posts, case studies and video content to keep your brand profile high. 

After a long winter of dark afternoons, basting yourself in oil and spending the first day of summer lying on a towel in the back garden is probably going to get you burned.  Similarly, if you don’t do any PR for extended periods and then try and raise your profile during the competitive trade show season, you’re going to pay premium, out-of-contract fees and may struggle to get attention.  Sounds just like a nasty case of sunburn – more pain than gain.      

There’s even a PR equivalent to fake tan.  Even the best fake tans can be identified by the slightly orange tint and the tell-tale signs around the knees and elbows, and fake PR has its tells too.  An increasing number of struggling trade publications now offer free editorial space to advertisers.  This is a great opportunity for brands to share useful content with their target market, but many can’t resist using the editorial space to blatantly promote their products.  In the same way that poorly applied fake tan looks worse than no tan, these thinly-veiled advertorials aren’t fooling anyone.  

We all know someone who spends a few hours in the sunshine and magically transforms into a bronzed beach god, and there are a fortunate few who benefit from the same public relations success.  A big acquisition by one of the industry leaders will always get attention, but it’s not something you can base your long-term PR strategy on, is it?

There is one significant difference between PR and the perfect tan – you can outsource your PR.  Whether your public relations activities are handled by your internal staff, outsourced to an agency, or split between the two, there’s nothing ad hoc about maintaining public relations. 

Happy spring!