I get this question a lot: how long does PR take? How long does it take to have success when pitching a story? Generally around 6 months, sometimes a few weeks, but sometimes YEARS. Unfortunately, many view PR as a turn-key function. That’s the wrong way to look at it.
How long does PR take for national publications?
PR takes anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 years or more for national publications. As an emerging tech PR guy, one of my clients was featured in Time Magazine as one of their “best inventions” of the year. It was a big win, but the story didn’t actually run until more than 2 years after the initial pitch! Many conversations I have with folks new to the PR space think results should happen in 2 months!
PR, like all marketing, is a game of consistency and patience. Most companies don’t have the guts to stick with it, and they lose. In the same way, you wouldn’t “try marketing” or “try R&D” you don’t “try PR” either. Simply dipping your toe in the water, will yield the same results as it does learning to water ski. Dipping your toe does nothing.
How long does PR take for regional publications?
PR for regional publications, depending on market size can be a lot faster of a turnaround, usually about a few days or a few months at most. Believe it or not, locally-focused journalists struggle to find great stories. That’s not a knock on local journalists, they just have a much smaller pool of story ideas to pull from.
If you’re the one with a truly inspiring or fascinating story and you pitch it, there’s a fairly good chance you’ll have success.
My PR company isn’t getting results
Just like any other industry, PR has its winners and losers. Because I’ve written for The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and others I’ve seen tens of thousands of pitches from PR people. Most are really awful. I’m NOT suggesting you stick with a PR company or PR lead for years with no results. That’s stupid. You should have a clear conversation about realistic goals and stick with 6 mo plans to see what the results are. Then you should make adjustments or draw up new goals.
Notice I said, realistic goals. Every single CEO and CMO on earth wants the big wins like the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, LA Times, Chicago Tribue, and New York Times. The competition is insane. A realistic goal, however, is finding a higher concentration of your market could be reading a smaller publication. If you sell rocks and 100,000 people read Rock Watchers Weekly, that might be a better target than the New York Times which only has 1000 people that care about rocks. And I can guarantee getting an article in Rock Watchers Weekly will be easier.
When you fail at your PR Goals
When you do fail to reach your PR goals (and you absolutely will) you don’t get to stop. Even if you decide not to continue with your PR agency, you must continue those efforts. You must continually follow up on current irons in the fire, and you have to continue setting goals.
The best way to do this is to ensure you have a shared project management system with your PR agency. Obviously, you don’t want to enter a PR relationship with the end in mind, but property communication and coordination require weekly reports or some kind of shared software. If your PR refuses, chances are they’re hiding something.