If the thought of PRing yourself or your company makes you shudder, or talk of “raising your profile” leaves you cold, don’t panic. Whether it’s being interviewed, seeing your face in the paper or writing thought leadership that makes you cringe, there are definitely steps you can take to help, and PR options that might work better for you.
Understand the process
“How would PR work for us?” is a great question to ask of your PR agency right at the start. You may have never done PR before so why would you be expected to understand the process? Equally, you may have done it differently, or have heard horror stories of people being put on the spot or spending lots of time investing in PR and getting nothing back (we hear a fair few of these as well). Understanding how everything works and how it could play out for you and your business is important, and may help to dispel some myths up front.
Understand the role you play in PR
Equally, what’s your role in the process and what would be expected of you? How much time would you need to spend each week and what kind of thing/s will be asked of you? We often get clients who are much more comfortable talking than writing, for example, and couldn’t think of anything worse than sitting writing 800 words in a morning. And that’s fine. That’s why we offer to ghost write or edit from a phone call, notes or bullet points. Once people know that’s an option, they relax.
Make sure you understand what time and resources you need to invest in PR to make it a success and how much time you’ll spend with a camera pointing straight at you, or not, as the case may be. There’s more about your role in PR here.
Get some great headshots done that you LOVE
It may sound trivial but for some people the idea of seeing their face in print is off-putting. What really helps with this is getting some great, natural headshots done, that you’re happy to see year after year. A good photographer will always bring out the best in you. There are a lot of great ones out there, and some I wouldn’t turn to, so ask for recommendations from friends and PRs and make sure you always check out their previous work. Do people look natural, happy, glowing? If so, they could be the right photographer for you. More on the importance of good photography in PR.
Often nerves around PR stem from a feeling that you might be exposing yourself or could get caught out. Our best tip – always be prepared. Remember, if you’re set to be interviewed you are likely to be talking about something you’re an expert on and do day-to-day so you will always know more than you think. And you can and should always take steps to refresh your memory. Chat to your PR consultant about it beforehand, and share your concerns.
A good PR will take time to prepare you for an interview: they should offer advice and could also give mock interview questions, which could help. They will get as much ready for you as possible (including details about the journalist, the kind of piece they’re writing etc.) Here’s more about getting prepared for a journalist interview.
Remember introverts often make the best interviewees
Someone thoughtful who will take time to listen to a question and answer it is certainly better than someone who will happily talk and talk (and potentially say something that’s not helpful to themselves or their business during that time). We would never push someone to discuss a subject they’re not confident in. If you’re an expert in a field, you will genuinely have something good to offer so don’t worry that you don’t feel “natural” in front of the camera. You might be exactly the expert the journalist is looking for.
Never feel pressured into doing anything
Finally, we all talk about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable in business. It may be a cliche but it’s also a phrase that’s helped me throughout my career as I try something new. But comfort zones are different for everyone and whereas speaking to a journalist might feel new but manageable for some, it feels downright terrifying for others and might always do so. That’s OK.
It’s absolutely fine to set boundaries with PR. Yes, sometimes the biggest opportunities come when you’re willing to be interviewed but there’s a lot that can be done with written comments only. We have a client we’ve been working with successfully for a few years who’s so much happier behind the scenes, and we’ve managed to generate powerful coverage for them. We’d be happy to give you some examples about what could work for you in that instance, before working together, so feel free to get in touch with us and ask the question.
I hope that helps to reassure you and if you need more help, here are all our resources to help you decide if PR is right for you.