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PR retainers: Are they worth it?

Many companies looking to raise their profile in targeted media often believe a PR campaign positioning them as a thought leader is the best way to achieve their goals. Through regularly monitoring sought-after media outlets and identifying opportunities for involvement through company news, expert comment, insights and opinion articles, a good PR campaign is seen as a way to expedite your brand awareness goals. But there is a significant flaw to the traditional PR model, and that is that small businesses need content in front of eyeballs and credibility - not endless press releases and fruitless pitching. It’s frustrating, and tough to justify.

When an agency bills for hours worked for a client, the accrued time isn’t necessarily indicative of a tangible result; media exposure is never guaranteed. The account’s team can spend a considerable amount of time brainstorming concepts, approaches and ideas which never see the light of day. Editorial content of a very high standard may be written, but not approved and therefore never published. Consequently, having no media exposure is seldom indicative of ideas lacking merit or efforts made not being noteworthy.

The secondary issue is that many media outlets are cutting down on free PR because they are trying to sell sponsored content and native advertising, so it’s better to shape yourself to be of value to the audience than aiming to simply advertise your product/service.

There is another way.

The answer is not to avoid PR, but to avoid putting all your eggs in one basket.

The key to a successful engagement with an agency is the knowledge that they can be reactive to news, trending topics and buzzworthy stories of note, and can adapt the message to suit the needs of a client in real time, translate the message into shareable content and therefore see tangible results.

Here are some examples showing how The Big Smoke did it.

Smart Company:

Since Alex Burke took the reins at Education Perfect 12 months ago, it has expanded into 42 new countries: Here’s how he did it

The Canberra Times:

Welcoming nature into your house through biophilic design

Smart Company

Job ads have hit a record high, but businesses are struggling to fill vacancies

Business Insider

16 Australian Entrepreneurs Share Their Most Valuable Life Lessons

Kochie’s Business Builders:

How to Zoom like a pro in 8 easy steps

The media exposure matters, but if you aren’t paying the outlet you can't guarantee they will cover you or get your message exactly how you’d like. An alternative is to continue putting together great article ideas that audiences will love but also working to get content published in credible places that are outside of pitching.

PR in and of itself is great, but it’s equally as important to also have the right messaging on third-party-credible websites.

You have in these, an opportunity to craft a message through a well-received article that can be shared with clients and the broader industry, while bolstering your digital footprint in a positive manner. The Big Smoke has done this in an expert manner over the years.

Xero CEO Steve Vamos spoke about the Cloud, change, and the challenges in encouraging emotional intelligence in business. Marie Mortimer, of spoke of how merging a background in investment banking and IT brought about a way to get customers more directly involved in the wholesale mortgages market. Canva’s Head of Marketing Zach Kitschke spoke about his industry, the future, and managing change in a $3.2 billion company.

Among our clients’ profiles include Peripheral Blue Founder and Managing Director Mellissa Larkin, and Director of Policy and Compliance, Kara Birch. Our client Education Perfect (EP) teamed up with the South Australian government to help international students studying within the state. We covered the ADMA Data Day, and spoke to leaders from Telstra and The Iconic.

These clients also had their profiles amplified across Linkedin, via EDMs and other social media, ensuring reach across targeted B2B audiences. Content posted on The Big Smoke is also an effective way to leverage great content and competitions, as we found when we asked several industry leaders to reflect on Fathers’ Day.

A business’ digital footprint is the complete expression of how the brand is represented online. Everything that you've said, or everything that others have said about your company or brand on the internet. Managing your digital footprint is a kind of online reputation management.

At TBS, we work with clients to bolster their digital footprint through generating content such as CEO profiles and through leadership pieces on our website, as well as blog posts on company websites as well. Improving a company’s digital footprint outside of the traditional PR machine helps support your company’s overall PR push by increasing your online presence, and through properly executed backlinks and optimising certain words and phrases, place you atop Google search ratings for your business type or field.

Changing attitudes and increasing market awareness throughout a community or industry require substantial insights, as well as the skills inherent in broad mass media coverage in the digital era. Businesses should always be focused on the ‘endgame’ of any given campaign.

This is best achieved with PR as a key part of an engine, constantly influencing your digital footprint and market share. Book a time to speak with us today about how media placements and thought leadership articles can impact your digital footprint.

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