We’ve all heard the old saying that, “there is no such thing as bad publicity” — the thinking being that any publicity boosts your awareness, which leads to a larger prospective audience. For those of us who work in PR, that cliche is pretty easy to disprove. While awareness is important for businesses, awareness without credibility does not help your brand. Thus, having your clients in the news for the wrong reasons is a huge headache for PR folks.
At 3Points, we’ve been thinking about a more interesting question: is there such a thing as too much PR, even if it’s all good PR? At first glance, the answer seems obvious — who ever wants less good news? This is maybe not what you’d expect a PR professional to say, but in some cases, you may indeed want to slow your roll with PR.
Here are three cases we’ve experienced where there is indeed “too much PR”:
When PR gets ahead of product
It’s great to get a buzz early on, and we’ve worked with many clients who want to launch a new company or product with a bang. However, you have to make sure you’re ready to capitalize on that buzz — PR can bring you the attention of a new audience, but you have to ensure that audience will have a positive experience as well.
For example, let’s say you publicly launch a product, but it turns out the product isn’t fully ready to scale with new customers. PR may do its job perfectly and bring you a number of new and interested users, but those users may not stick around long (and may not come back again) if they encounter issues with the product. This can happen to service providers as well, who might generate a number of new leads from a PR push, but don’t have the structure (or bandwidth) in place to turn those leads into clients.
Either way, in this scenario, timing is key. Build a strategy so that when PR brings you attention, you can create a positive experience out of that attention.
When PR becomes a burden for your spokesperson
We actually recently had a client in this scenario. Everyone wanted to talk to the CEO or get him on a panel, and it was not surprising why — his company had been making a big splash, he’s intelligent and charismatic, and he has unique insights in his field. Given how much effort it can normally take to secure interviews and speaking opportunities, having all of this inbound interest seemed like a great problem to have.
We soon realized, though, that the CEO didn’t have time to honor all of these media commitments in addition to doing all the things needed to run his business. (And not to mention have a normal life outside of work.) Being a spokesperson can be mentally and emotionally draining when you’re in demand, especially if you say yes to everything. In this case, we had to become selective with his media opportunities, focusing on quality over quantity. It feels unnatural for a PR pro to (politely) decline a chance for publicity, but sometimes you have to learn how to say no.
When PR creates over-saturation of certain messages
To utilize another overused expression, you don’t have to always “leave them wanting more,” but you don’t want to get to the point where they want less. Just as people might get tired of a legitimately funny commercial after seeing it too many times, people may start to tune out your messages if they hear them over and over.
This can lead to pressure to have new talking points, which is not a bad thing. But you have to make sure that you have those new talking points, and that those talking points are just as strong as your initial ones. To that end, a good PR strategy should not only provide you with a number of different messaging options, but should also be forward-looking to anticipate what new messages may become useful down the line.
PR is a powerful tool for building brands and driving business growth, but just as you want the right kind of PR, you also want the right amount, at the right time. The best PR does not force you to play catch up to all the publicity you’re getting — it looks at where you’re at and syncs up accordingly.