By Chantal Riley

Whenever someone asks me what I do for a living, I am inevitably asked two things. One: “isn’t PR all about going to parties with celebrities,” (generally asked by a student) or two: “so do you pay journalists in order to get publicity.” The answer is a resounding NO to both!

A public relations agency worth its salt aims to give its clients free publicity because the information they are sending out on behalf of a client is deemed to be of interest to an audience. If a journalist or TV host thinks a company has something valuable to share, something that will keep their audiences reading, watching or listening, they may request an interview, use the press release or invite the brand to be an on–air guest.

There is the old cliché that people can’t buy a brand/product if they don’t know about it. And it’s true! But companies don’t have to always rely on paying to get coverage in a publication. If they choose to work with a credible public relations agency who actually knows what they are doing, they can expect great coverage in a variety of titles; all working towards showcasing the brand/product to a selected target market.

However, many people are still hesitant about using PR agencies to get publicity, so let’s debunk some myths:

  • You have to be a big company, have a big budget, or be a well known brand in order to get publicity. Absolutely not! The media are always looking for people and companies who are willing to provide expertise or comment on topics which are of interest to their audience. Even all the big names that you see in the news had to start somewhere and were considered to be unknown at their first interviews. A credible PR agency will be able to assist you in positioning yourself in the right way to get publicity.
  • I don’t have anything newsworthy to say. You’d be surprised by the many ways your company or brand can be newsworthy. It’s the agency’s job to find items that you can talk about within the media. Obviously they are not going to publicise soft news like a senior manager having a baby, but they are qualified to look at your company information in such a way as to glean news snippets.
  • Publicity is a waste if it doesn’t give you immediate results. Results driven campaigns are a two-step process; a good PR campaign is the first step. Publicity raises awareness about you and your company, highlighting who you are and getting your message out, which in turn gets you into people’s minds. Not only do they learn more about your brand but they begin to place their confidence in you because they see the media writing about you. Getting people to buy into your brand is firstly about getting them to buy into your message – and publicity can help you get that buy-in.

Publicity is what puts your name in lights (well in print) – so think of it as your very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Without it, no matter how fabulous your company or product is, people are unlikely to talk about you or come looking for you.

I suppose only one question remains, “how do you know so much about publicity?” That’s easy, I work for PR Worx and we haven’t received the top honours in the Media Relations and Publicity Category at the PRISA PRISM awards for four years in a row for nothing.

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PR Worx once again demonstrated that their reputation as one of the leading PR companies in South Africa is well deserved, when the agency walked away as one of the most awarded consultancies at the 2013 Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) PRISM Awards.

The annual PRISM Awards were hosted at an elaborate affair at the Hilton Hotel in Sandton on Sunday, 7 April 2013, as PRISA welcomed passionate PR professionals from all corners of the country who gathered to celebrate the work that they deemed to be award winning quality.

PR Worx’s considerable PR expertise, insight and innovative strategies were once again honoured, as the firm obtained five awards, including a gold award for ‘Community Relations’ for its corporate social investment division, DeskBags.

The firm also took top honours in the ‘Media Relations’ category for Anglo American’s Good News Publicity Strategy; as well as in ‘Crisis Management’ for The Fish & Chip Co.’s Dinner Time at Nkandla Campaign. In addition, PR Worx also won a silver award for ‘PR on a Shoestring Budget’ for 1Time Airline; as well as a bronze award for ‘Corporate Responsibility’ for DeskBags.

Managing Director of PR Worx, Madelain Roscher, who started the company in 2001, attributed these accolades to her team.

“It is such a rewarding feeling when hard work pays off, and your team is present to share in the company’s successes. Every team member has contributed significantly to each of our awards in some way, and it is because we collaborate closely, seek ideas and share solutions, and never settle for second best, that we were able to emerge as winners on the awards night.”

PR Worx’s achievements at the 2013 PRISA PRISM Awards builds on the company’s impressive track record to date. In 2012, PR Worx secured an astounding eight PRISM Awards in various categories, and was also voted as The Best PR Company in South Africa and the City of Johannesburg by PMR Africa.

PRWorx- PRISM 2013 (35 of 39)

Our fantastic team showcasing our array of awards

By Kgomotso Makgamatha

It is not difficult to realise the degree to which innovative thinking contributes largely to a successful PR campaign. Richard Branson’s Virgin ad campaign titled ‘WTF – Why The Fees?’ is tangible testimony to this.

Also it is almost impossible to delve deeply into this discussion without mentioning the power and importance of organisational culture in harnessing maximum innovation. PR companies whose strategic goals are clear and whose cultures sturdily support those goals, are nine times out of ten better positioned to harness innovation.

As such, PR Worx is a firm believer in proactivity as opposed to passive conformity, when it comes to adhering to the status quo of how things have always been done. It has been proven that a team that consists of members who consistently question, connect or solve problems creatively; are better equipped to be innovative.

Because public relations is such a right-brain demanding industry, the fact that effective PR professionals always start with the end in sight, can sometimes be mistaken for being creative in identifying PR objectives. This basically means that ‘wow’ PR is reliant on a company aligning all its communication efforts with achieving a desired outcome such as securing national coverage for a specific PR initiative.

PR Worx considers reaching a win-win zone to be the only option with regards to healthy employee-to-management relationships or PR agency-to-client relationships. Therefore building and maintaining formidable relationships is indicative of mutual understanding, respect for others’ opinions and the willingness to understand before wanting to be understood. Thus one must realise that people can view the same thing, disagree and still both be right.

Innovation is not easy to come by, however it is also not impossible to attain. In light of this, rewarding both success and failure is crucial in instilling the philosophy that will make innovative thinking a thing of the now.  People who are acknowledged for trying to change the way something was done conventionally, are also the same people who are successful in suggesting innovative solutions.

Contrary to the popular belief that innovation solely has to do with implementing the latest and lightest technology, innovation can also use existing technology differently, in ways that have otherwise never been explored.

Having read the above-mentioned, you now have the necessary information to positively transform the way you think forever. So go on – work towards improving your quest to reaching a point of PR self-actualisation, a stage that will highlight your full and sublime potential.  If you can master the art of grabbing and more importantly keeping the public’s attention, then what’s stopping you from being that PR professional with that ever so intriguing X-factor? Absolutely nothing. PR Worx supports the notion that anything is possible if you want it bad enough, it’s purely up to you whether you replace the phrase ‘can not’ in your capabilities vocabulary with a ‘can do’ attitude.

Revolution