April 15, 2009

Off the shelf PR

Posted in Industry Standards at 8:51 am by R

There was an announcement in the Phoenix Business Journal yesterday that the Valley of the Sun will soon have a PRStore.

This franchise touts itself as offering:

  • Logo design
  • Web development
  • Direct mail
  • Brochures
  • Promotional products
  • Press release
  • Media placement

…all in a one-stop-shop.

I feel fairly skeptical about a shop like this for two reasons:

  1. PR requires planning! You can’t just go in and do one-off press releases!! It’s not strategic. Press releases are a TACTIC!
  2. Several PRStore franchisees have recently  filed claims of fraud and racketeering against the franchise owners.

I understand that making public relations accessible to small business is important. We in the field all know the tremendous power of our craft…when executed appropriately.

It comes down to this — with what I’ve learned about PRStore, I don’t have confidence in the company (Anyone being sued for fraud doesn’t exactly inspire trust and confidence!) nor do I believe the their practices conducive to long-term strategy that ultimately serves clients best and drives business to them.

But don’t just take it from me. Several PR peers I look up to had similar opinions about the new “agency.”

Len Gutman of Valley PR Blog:

I really am not sure what to think. I can see where the centralization of graphic design, web sites, collateral development, printing and such can be cost effective for a small client. I could even be convinced that a franchisee in a strip mall can write a decent press release — although I’d like to see their degree and test them on their knowledge of AP Style. But I can’t believe they can craft a strategic public relations campaign with well thought out tactics across multiple platforms.

Abbie Fink of HMA Time:

Our industry has spent years convincing clients and our organizations that public relations is a strategic part of any good business plan.  That it must be well thought-out and budgeted for.  It is not something that can or should be purchased off the shelf.

Public relations is not a commodity, we shouldn’t sell it the same way as we sell shirts and ties.

It should be mentioned that the franchisees who are opening the Phoenix location do have marketing backgrounds.

Still…I’m skeptical.