People who work in public relations will be the first to tell you PR firms don’t always have a stellar reputation. Just ask Nick Powills, chief brand strategist at No Limit Agency, a Chicago-based PR firm specializing in franchising.
“PR firms fail to educate their clients about what PR actually is, what it does and how you can use it after an article or TV segment runs,” he said. “The reputation issue is primarily from a lack of education. However, many firms rely on the press release and not secured media, which creates little to no return for the brand.”
The idea is that a third party – such as a newspaper or television show – running a story on a brand is inherently more valuable than traditional advertising, which feels less credible to consumers. Unfortunately, many PR firms fail to illustrate this to their clients and end up providing services that seem ephemeral at best.
“[PR professionals are] trained to believe everything starts and stops with a press release,” Powills continued. “A press release is still first-party. They also come out of the gates hot and slow down. Poor service, relationships, results and strategy cause them to have high brand turnover.”
Lauren Boukas, vice president at No Limit Agency, also believes reputation problems can stem from a market oversaturated with substandard firms.
“A common misconception is that PR is easy and that anyone can do it, which explains the recent burst of ‘PR firms’ popping up,” she said. “The problem is, bad publicists sour our industry and make it harder for the good pitches to get through.”
Boukas went on to highlight how most firms take a “blast approach” to PR, sending out tons of emails and hoping something sticks.
“In order to be successful, publicists need to do their homework and make sure they’re contacting the right person at the right media outlet with the right pitch,” she said.
Of course, this all begs the question: How is No Limit Agency different?
“We take a personal approach, both in crafting a pitch and in delivering it,” Boukas said. “We’re all about building relationships that last.”
This is personified by the agency’s focus on utilizing people to tell a brand’s story.
“[Brands] need a mix of credible buzz in order to achieve their development goals,” Powills said. “When your friend tells you that a brand is great, you are more likely to believe them. When a reporter tells you that a brand is great, that works just as well, if not better.”
In short, No Limit Agency is dedicated to building as much third-party validated buzz as possible for brands. This is accomplished in part by the agency’s use of phone pitching instead of blast press release distribution, which allows its publicists to build strong relationships with reporters.
No Limit Agency has also changed the game by utilizing modern technology to tell brand stories in the form of 1851Franchise.com. This content marketing platform allows brands to tell their story in a credible way that leverages all their media placements in addition to unique articles targeted at their core audiences. Most importantly, it’s all housed on a third-party news site that lends each story greater credibility.
“We don’t just keep up with changing technology - we’re the ones changing it with 1851,” Boukas said.
By combining the tried-and-true with new innovations, No Limit Agency is able to stay one step ahead of the PR pack while delivering fantastic results for its clients.
“We focus on performing one inch better in strategy, relationships, service and results,” Powills said. “It’s not brain surgery; it’s simply trying to do the little things a little better.”