FAQ

What is PR?

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has defined PR as, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” While this is accurate, it’s easy to conclude that PR is about much more than mutually beneficial relationships. It means achieving business and organizational objectives through enhanced credibility. It involves building a strong reputation that lays the groundwork for those relationships. And it centers on creating awareness using traditional and new channels for communication. We don’t get too caught up in wordsmithing the definition. We’d rather just put it to work for clients.

Isn’t PR just about getting media coverage?

One of the most common assumptions is that PR is publicity or “earned media.” The reality is PR is much more than that. Media relations itself encompasses proactive outreach to the media to get publicity, but it also includes effective response to the media. PR also includes programs that involve corporate and financial communication, workplace communications, investor relations, community relations, content development and marketing, business-to-business marketing (B2B), professional services marketing, branding and brand development, and the full range of digital capabilities.

Do you have experience with my industry or my type of organization?

After 30 years in PR, there’s a good chance, but that’s never the most advisable basis on which to hire a PR consultant. Experience in your sector definitely shortens the learning curve, but it may not increase the likelihood that the consultant will provide you with the solutions you need and be able to implement them effectively. Rather, O’Brien prefers to base its credibility on a solid track record of helping clients across multiple sectors. In fact, there have been times when experience from a separate and distinct project has provided the basis for a fresh, new approach for a client in a sector that was new to us.

What contacts do you have in the media?

O’Brien has effectively dealt with most major media outlets in the country, and because it is a Pittsburgh PR firm, O’Brien Communications has longstanding relationships with media throughout the Western Pennsylvania region.   That said, because of typically high turnover rates in newsrooms and other factors, it’s never advisable to build media relations programs on “who you know.” The key is to understand the media organization, what it wants, what it needs and how it operates. To get the best results, we must provide stories that are timely and relevant, and we must be able to respond how and when they need us to respond.

What is the difference between earned media and owned media?

This question usually arises when clients are exploring content marketing strategies, or when trying to decide between public relations and advertising. Content marketing experts often use terms like “earned media” to describe public relations and differentiate it from digital advertising (paid media) and company-controlled Web sites and channels (owned media). For the sake of discussion, earned media is that typically associated with public relations – content published by a third-party, such as a news site, that features your company or organization. Owned media are sites the company literally owns, like the company Web site or blog, or social media channels the organization controls (to the extent it can control the page), like company pages on YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Your firm is an independent practice. Are you big enough for my organization?

O’Brien Communications follows the very same operational model that Tim O’Brien used when he worked for an international PR firm and top Pittsburgh PR agency.  This is the same operational model he instituted when he managed an in-house investor relations and communications department at a publicly traded company. When you hire O’Brien Communications, Tim O’Brien is the team lead. He has a hand in all of the communications/public relations, content development and other work. O’Brien Communications has assembled teams around client needs and budgets. O’Brien maintains a lean operation that is scalable to client need and the lifecycle of the project. O’Brien has longstanding relationships with its strategic partners, having worked together for clients as large as Fortune 100 companies, and as small as nonprofits and start-ups.

Other times, O’Brien has served as an allied consultant on projects where other firms and clients that assemble their own scalable communications teams. Learn more about how we can provide PR support to your needs.

How much does public relations cost?

PR costs vary depending on your need, your budget and the resources required to effectively address your challenges. O’Brien does not maintain a set minimum fee, and works with clients in various ways, the most common being monthly retainer, or on a project basis, or according to an hourly fee. Please contact us to discuss.

I have an interview coming up with a reporter, can you help me prepare?

Yes. You can receive media coaching and training, remotely or in person (depending on timing, location and availability), so that you are as prepared as possible for your interview. Also depending on the situation, O’Brien can also serve as a media representative to reach out to specific reporters/editors to learn more about what the interviewer wants and the intended approach for the interview. If you would like to arrange for a free consultation to detail your specific situation, just let us know.