I recently read an article about “slow PR” in this time of 24/7 news, tweets, posts, photos, and all of the digital media that moves so rapidly. Knowing the fast pace of PR campaigns, I had to wonder how the word “slow” could even appear next to “PR.” I realized that “slow” actually was just an observation, and not a criticism. That’s because PR does not always move fast. In fact, I read on a public relations firm’s blog that it takes, on average, 18 hours of behind the scenes PR work to land a cooking segment on a national morning show.

Slow PR?  Maybe it’s just the expectation that news should happen fast, because that’s how we see it on Twitter and Facebook and the online news sites. For breaking news, fast reporting and updating is the norm. But for most product and service pitches, campaigns do not move as quickly, and seasoned publicists recognize that every pitch will not earn instant media coverage. It takes time to build a story with a reporter, to sometimes wait for that reporter’s schedule to open up and allow for a longer conversation about the pitch and available resources. The company sharing the news concept may need to wait for a story to be developed in depth by a reporter. Reporters work within certain confines including direction from their editors and obligations to other assignments.

Businesses are often so excited to gain press attention that they shudder when advised that coverage may take a bit of time to achieve.  The truth is that many meaningful, business-building media placements actually can take several weeks to happen…but I’m not sure I’d call that slow PR. It’s just an expectation of the tactic. Sometimes things happen fast, and sometimes journalists need more time. 

Let’s look at some examples of “slow PR”:

A beloved pet is injured and taken to its primary care veterinarian.  There, the pet owner is advised to contact a veterinary specialist for additional care. Once the pet has been treated by the veterinary specialist and is again healthy, the case is mentioned during a PR team check-in call with the veterinary specialty hospital’s marketing committee. The PR team agrees, this could be a newsworthy story because it will educate the public about the potential for this injury, and the successful treatment from the team of veterinarians. The pet’s owner agrees, and would like to participate if any interviews are scheduled.

A pitch is sent to local newspapers and television networks, and a producer expresses interest.  He can be there with a crew in a month. The shoot date comes and the producer and crew are taken off the story early that morning, due to breaking news nearby. The shoot is rescheduled for two weeks later. It does happen at that time, and runs on the evening newscasts, twice, a few days later. The hospital is pleased with the coverage. From start to finish:  more than six weeks after the pitch.

A new product for pets is launched by a relatively new business. The business has never done PR before, but would really love to earn product reviews from media outlets across the country. Due to a phased budget, the team decides to first reach out to the pet blogs, whose devoted audiences are passionate pet owners looking for great new products and advice. The pet blogs are contacted – in some cases we ask specifically about their own pets that we’ve come to know – and the interested blogs are sent products to sample and review.  Facilitation of the delivery of the products takes a few days. Ten blogs have expressed interest and received product.

The pet company eagerly waits for positive online reviews. One appears a week later, complete with photos of the blogger’s pet enjoying the new product. It’s a great review, with links to purchase points, and a promo code as well. Two weeks pass by without any new reviews. The bloggers have told us that their schedules drive their coverage, and we patiently wait. We check in to ensure they received the product and answer any questions. A week passes, and three more reviews are published. Later in the month, more reviews begin to come in.

By the end of the 6-week campaign, most of the blogs who requested product have published reviews. A few more will trickle in throughout the following month. The client is pleased with the outcome, admitting that it took longer than expected. But traffic to the website is being measured and is showing spikes, and visitors are clicking on their News tab to read the new reviews.

No two PR campaigns are alike. And unlike advertising there are no guarantees for coverage on a particular date. But, with a compelling story, and an educational/informational/inspirational angle to share, a Fetching publicist knows how to bring the story to the media, generate interest, be persuasive, and at times, patient. 

The speed of PR depends on so many variables that change with every single campaign. But a good, solid story will earn media attention. It’s just a matter of when.