Jane Harrell, co-owner of Working with Dog and founder of ’cause Digital Marketing, holds Office Hours with Jane twice a month, and members of Working with Dog can ask any burning questions they have about business or marketing.
How important do you think it is to find a PR/marketing partner in the same industry as your biz?
Expert Jane Harrell responds:
I’m the first to admit – I’m quite biased on this one. Personally, I spent 11+ years being the “client” to marketing partners and agencies who I ended up having to train on the pet space. As a result, it rarely felt like I was actually saving myself time – and many agencies are quite expensive. This is actually a core reason why I jumped off the corporate ladder and started ’cause Digital Marketing. I’d amassed a great crew of people who were fantastic marketing specialists AND knew the industry over the years – and had personally felt the pain of being the client for too long.
All this said, there are marketing partners who do not know the pet space and can still be quite effective. The key is really in answering these two questions:
1- How much time do you have to provide oversight to your PR/marketing partner?
If you have a good deal of time, then you can personally review everything and teach them about your brand. If you DON’T have time, letting them run off without your knowledge can be dangerous. I’ve personally witnessed several times when the marketing person doesn’t realize what they’re pitching is actually dangerous to animals or a highly controversial topic.
Having a partner who knows your industry gives them a leg-up and allows you to be a lot more hands-off.
2- Who are you trying to reach/What are you trying to do?
For this one, think about who your audience is. If you’re trying to reach pet owners who read pet publications, a pet-focused PR person probably already knows a lot of the people at the magazine. Heck, they might even write for them. It’ll take that PR person a lot less time and effort to get something placed for you. However, if you’re trying to reach broader business publications or something like a national morning talk show, a niche pet marketing person may not have the same advantages. In that case, I’d make sure the marketing and PR person has experience with THAT area and audience – and then step in to oversee to make sure they’re not promoting anything that would be detrimental to your brand from a pet-industry perspective.
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