Working in PR has allowed me to liaise with others who work at companies other than my own, which has given me an honest insight into how the industry works, particularly in fashion. PR is an industry that’s not always honest. Many PR companies constantly lie to the brands they work with or want to work with and the media they’re building relationships with, and I thought it would be insightful for me to share some of my findings with you. If you’re a brand seeking a PR agency to work with or if you’re someone who’s looking to have a career in PR, this is definitely for you.
Here’s just some of the lies most PR agencies will tell:
“We spend any time we have liaising with the media and our contacts to ensure the best results for our clients…”
This is a statement I read recently in an email from another PR agency, and I would like to confirm to you all that this, in most cases, is simply not true. Yes, those who work in PR, including me, do spend an awful lot of time liaising with the press in order to achieve the best results, however it should be know that we also spend a lot of time eating out at nice restaurants with friends, attending nice parties and events where we drink and have fun with our +1’s (usually not in the media), and chatting over coffee to stylists about lots of irrelevant things. 10 minutes of chat about “work” and 50 minutes about crap is usually the way it goes.
It’s not all about business and I don’t mind admitting that. PR is a job with countless perks and that should be clear. It shouldn’t be shameful to want to enjoy what you do!
“Securing press takes a lot of time…”
Again, in most cases, this is untrue. If a PR agency or someone who works in PR has the right contacts, which they should if you’re paying them (sometimes quite a lot of money) for a service, press features are very quick and easy to secure. In most cases, all it takes is an hour or two (if that) to push a press release out, send some emails and arrange some coffee dates, and you’ve got coverage for a client for the entire month. Not to mention, if you work in fashion PR half the work is done for you just by the simple fact that stylists and editors often email or phone you to directly request samples or images from a client. It’s really not that difficult!
“You won’t find what we offer anywhere else…”
Lies. There are lots of PR agencies who offer the exact same services and do these services just as well as others – it’s just a matter of finding them! PR has a lot to do with how well you get on with the client (and how well the client gets on with the agency) and that is often why a client will choose to stay or leave. You’re not offering a unique, special service – you’re doing what a lot of others are doing, too. It’s definitely not news that a large number of those who work in PR have the same contacts. There’s no doubt that it’s the personality or image of the agency that often determines why a brand will work with that agency.
“We don’t earn as much as we should…”
I charge the majority of my clients between £150 and £250 each month and, for that, they get a service they’re usually happy with and a nice amount of coverage – sometimes what I would consider too much for what they’re paying (in comparison to other companies) – and everyone’s happy. Even with my small team, I average £30 an hour. It’s not a bad amount of money for the time you put in. However, the vast majority of PR agencies charge between £350 and £700, if not more, for coverage that really isn’t that much different or more effective to what companies who charge much less are able to secure. People are just greedy. Fact.
That being said, this does change when you start paying an agency thousands instead of hundreds (these agencies are usually the top dogs in the industry and have a lot of pull with the media), but how many new brands can afford to splash out like that?
“We know what’s best for your brand…”
In some cases, this can be true, however it’s the brand who knows their demographic and targets, and it’s the brand who knows how they want to be portrayed. The job of the PR agency is not to change the brand based on what they think – it’s to take the voice of the brand and devise a plan that works well to achieve those brand targets, including relevant media coverage. Of course you can advise a brand on the quality of their products or their price points, but the brand has the final decision on these aspects. Fact.
Hopefully I’ve given you some insight into what it’s like to work in PR (if you’re looking to do so) or work with a PR agency (if you’re a brand owner). Honesty is the best policy, but in fashion in particular it doesn’t always work like that. But that’s not news, is it?