Over the last several years we’ve noticed a trend in client objectives away from building a brand to driving sales, increasing contributions, or gaining clicks – instant gratification versus a longer term basis of positive growth.  Around our shop, we refer to it as ‘making the phone ring.”

I recognize we live in a time where patience is no longer a virtue. A time of startup companies and millionaire, rather billionaire, aspirations before one hits thirty.  A time when we consider an internet speed of 10 MPs, a turtle’s pace compared to our neighbor’s 240 MPs.  A time of instant payoffs, not payouts.

But is it really the job of the PR pro to always make the phone ring? Is there still not room for PR campaigns that slowly and steadily build awareness in the marketplace of products and ideas?  Are businesses today in such a hurry to gain enough growth to gain funding to gain more growth to exercise their exit strategies that they ignore even the possibility of building a brand reputation, let alone a legacy?

I can easily remember a time not that long ago when PR actually stood for “Performance-Recognition” and PR firms, as well as individual publicists, were hired for our ability to build a client’s reputation and recognition in the media. We became partners with our clients in developing an overall PR strategy that would resonate through the media with all of a client’s stakeholders – employees, investors, and yes, potential customers – and evolve over time into a base of credible recognition.

Is this kind of PR still possible in today’s instant gratification world?  Not unless we insist on it. Here are a few red flag questions to consider the next time a new client demands you make the phone ring…

  • Is the demand based on limited budget and funding?
  • Is the client far enough along in their evolution to be newsworthy?
  • Does the client understand the PR process and its dependency on the media?
  • Is the client open to accepting a longer brand building approach?
  • Is it worth it?

All of us in the profession understand that PR must provide an effective ROI, i.e., to ultimately drive business as its core reason for being. However, we also understand that it is the inherent value of the client’s product or service and their brand perception that will make the phone ring.  PR’s job is to communicate that inherent value – sometimes instantly, and sometimes over time.




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