By Melissa A Vitale
Absolutely no brand is immune to slow coverage cycles. Well, unless maybe you're working with Elon Musk, an A-List celebrity or you have unlimited budgets for PR stunts. (And if you're a VICE brand and that applies to you, please contact me ASAP - we can do some GREAT work together).
I always make it a point to mention that PR is not immediate. Even though a brand pays my retainer, we're not giving anything to journalists. They maybe get a free sample. Journalists and editors are humans too. They have lives outside of their jobs. They have families, friends, other projects, side jobs, vacations and commitments. They don't exist to cover brands for their marketing goals. They serve their audiences and advertisers.
Just because a brand wants press coverage doesn't mean the editor, outlet, or journalist has time or resources to cover the brand. A journalist may be excited about a brand today, but won't be able to profile them for six months. Every outlet is beholden to advertisers and audiences for dictating their coverage. Not publicists and brands they represent. Sometimes, outlets are only allowed to cover niche subjects like VICE industries once every six months! If a particular magazine covered cannabis in June and a CBD brands starts in July, they may not have potential to be considered for four months at that specific publication.
Another thing to consider: budgets! It's no secret subscriber-ship has decreased across the board. There's only so much money to pay journalists & there's only so many editor salaries a publishing house can afford. Sometimes, editors love a brand, but already planned out their commission budgets for the coming months and need to pause on evergreen brand profiles.
It's the publicists constant pitches, calls, networking and schmoozing that keeps a brand relevant in the time between coverage opportunities. (Read more about how PR can take so long)
There are certain times of the year, Summer and January mainly where coverage can slow down. This does not mean that your campaign is failing. In fact, these months are often some of the most crucial to a campaign. One story could take 6 weeks to cultivate. So a placement in March means the end of January was when it was secured. I once had a brand with two placements in July and August but 11 placements in December... many of those placements in December were secured in July and August. The brands that are consistent with PR are the ones that will overcome slow months of coverage with explosions of press mentions in surrounding months.
Okay that all makes sense. But if I didn't get any results this month, do I still have to pay my publicist?
Unless your contract states that you do not have to pay without results, withholding payment from your publicist will hurt your campaign. Many publicists stop outbound pitching efforts if payments are overdue past a certain time. This could put a stall in the traction.
Even if you're without results one month, you of course need to pay your publicist! The results in PR are held in the hands of editorial departments. So if newscycles are slow one month, that doesn't mean your publicist doesn't have to or doesn't deserve to eat. They still did the work. If you're only paying when there are results, than your publicist is investing in your PR plan.
Unless you've gone 3+ months with results below the expectation, I would suggest talking with your publicist about what's going on but if it's a slow month sandwiched between stellar results, this is just the PR game and is very typical.
A slow month of results does not mean a bad campaign. PR is like a duck, on the surface, clients see results but there's a lot of hard work going on beneath the surface. Slow months just mean your publicist is working extra hard.
For Vice Brands looking to explore cost effective public relations packages, learn more about MAVPR’s services via: melissaavitale.com/services.html
Melissa A Vitale Public Relations
A public relations agency specializing in brands and startups in artificial intelligence, sexual wellness and legal cannabis.