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I’ve been a publicist for more than two decades, and I’ve owned Choice for nearly five years (hooray for our anniversary in June!). One question I am constantly asked is: “How do I know if I need a publicist?”

Publicity and communications are important for any growing business but they can be challenging to understand. Business owners are not only unsure if they need a publicist (or even, what they do), but they struggle with finding the right time to actually hire one.

Often times, people think that being in a magazine, securing a TV interview, or being on a podcast are events that happen naturally and without preparation – that they just come organically. While this is possible, it is rare. Garnering strong and effective media coverage is a challenging, strategic process and must be customized for each business/person and each media contact. This is where a seasoned publicist can step in.

So, if you have been thinking about hiring a publicist, or maybe you just want to know more about what publicists do, here are eight questions to ask yourself:

Do I need…

1. Do I need a clear, concise, and compelling way to tell my story?
Is your audience on board with your mission? Do you have customers who walk away from you confused? Whether it be a product, service or your personal message, publicists can help you strengthen and streamline your story to ensure that your audiences will stick around.

2. Do I need access to media gatekeepers and influencers?
Everyone wants their product, service, or message to be featured in a magazine, on TV, or on the latest top 10 podcast; however, this coverage doesn’t just happen naturally. Publicists can help you get the coverage you want that will boost your business goals and message. We know the right contacts and can pitch your message in a way that is appealing and newsworthy.

3. Do I need a new or a larger audience?
Are you in a growth plateau? If your business or message is not reaching as many people as you’d like, it might be time to expand your reach. Publicists can help you figure out what other audiences you can reach and then help you gain essential access to those audiences.

4. Do I need clarity or a strong, robust communications strategy?
Are you being reactive or proactive in your communications? Most companies take communications day-by-day. However, this approach often results in little media coverage and business growth. Publicists can come in with a fresh perspective and be beneficial in crafting a proactive and effective communications strategy to help propel your business forward, not just be reactive in the moment.

Do I have…

5. Do I have a strong, distinctive message, product, or service?
At the end of the day, you must have something that will stand out above all of the noise competing for our attention. How can you set yourself apart and be different? A publicist can help you bring your business and message to the forefront, through media coverage and strategic messaging, so that audiences are aware and interactive with your brand.

6. Do I have the time available for preparation, interviews, and actually doing the writing that may be needed if I hire a publicist?
When you hire a publicist, it is key that you are available to work alongside them. To be the most effective, you will be responsible for crafting some content, being available for appearances and interviews, and interacting with your audience. It is crucial that you think about your own personal time investment to the growth and streamlining the process.

7. Do I have a current crisis or is there one coming?
Waiting until you are in the middle of a crisis to hire a publicist is not an effective strategy to combat it. In the current media climate, it is crucial to be proactive and quiet crises before they occur. By hiring a publicist, you can be prepared for when the issue arises and deal with it swiftly and directly.

8. Do I have money to spend?
Though many believe this myth, publicity is not a free service. It takes time, effort and strategy to get your product, message, or service in the light of media. Investing in a strong, competent, and helpful publicist will require an investment and you must be prepared for that. There are various levels of publicity that are available at different price points. However, one thing is consistent: good publicity requires money and your business must be able to support that.

When you think it’s time to invest in a publicist, be sure to ask and answer these questions to ensure the best possible experience for you and your business. And, check out my recent video on this topic!

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AUTHOR: Heather Adams
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