Businesses and the people who own them thrive due to relationships. In almost all successful instances, someone knew someone who helped another someone rise to greatness. Whether it’s through nepotism or just a referral, building partnerships and maintaining them is often the difference between a sinking ship and smooth sailing in business.
No one knows this better than public relations experts who specialize in cultivating and managing these relationships. They help connect clients with key influencers, while giving influencers the opportunity to break a story first. This may sound simple, but it is a delicate balance requiring two partners with conflicting interests staying happy at the same time.
The Two Partners
The two primary partners in a PR expert’s life are the client and the media. The client is the person, brand or organization the PR specialist represents. The media refers to the outlets helping to get the client’s story out there. Both parties have their own interests and the public relations specialist must play the diplomat keeping the peace between both, and take the blame when this fails.
All brands, public figures or other clients have a message they want delivered to the public. It can range anywhere from “we are the best” to “I know it looks suspicious, but it’s not what you think.” Whether it’s boosting visibility or doing damage control, clients want their brand seen as often as possible in the best light. They also want full publicity of all improvements or major developments.
But what may sound like great news to a client might not make good news for the gatekeepers of the media. Poaching a major executive from a bigger company might rock the office, but in the regular world where this executive is not well-known, who really cares? The public pays closer attention to office scandals and company failures than a new promotion or advocating for a company’s innocence.
The Difficulty in Pleasing Both
The problem in pleasing both comes directly from this difference in needs. As a result, it becomes the job of the public relations specialist to present even the most mundane events so they sound like great stories furthering the career of journalists, bloggers, broadcasting networks, and other gatekeepers to the media.
This also sometimes means owing media workers a favor, which may prove problematic later. As soon as the client hits a rough patch many of these journalists start calling to cash in on those owed favors. That could prove harmful to the client’s best interest. They want the insider’s cut, the story of what’s really going, or just a few quotes they can spin to add to the unfolding drama later.
Needless to say, PR experts walk a very thin line to balance client needs with media exposure. It isn’t easy pleasing both partners at the same time, especially when fulfilling the best interest of one often means risking the ruin or injured reputation of another.