One of my favorite things about working in sports car racing public relations is the sense of community among PR reps. Competition or animosity that is sometimes present in other areas of the sport is replaced here by a mutual respect and supportive friendships that foster shared creativity and intellectual discussions. One of these recent conversations with another PR rep touched on an important topic that should be explored for anyone aspiring to branch out on their own in the sport.
Is it acceptable for a public relations representative or firm to promote themselves?
This isn’t to justify to my critics why I choose to promote my business, but rather to use what I’ve learned to help future PR reps as they consider whether or not to promote their own endeavors.
Those against self-promotion usually argue one of the following, which I’ll address point by point:
1) It steals the spotlight from the clients
2) PR reps should be seen and not heard
3) It’s not necessary because no one cares about communications
It Steals the Spotlight from the Clients
Whether or not you promoting your company steals the spotlight from your clients is completely up to you. There’s a simple way to avoid this from happening: put your clients first. Each of my teams have no doubt that they come first. Any creative idea or media opportunity I receive, I serve to them. The majority of my day is dedicated to getting projects for them completed first before I even think about completing my tasks for KBru Communications. My clients are my priority, and promoting my company only comes after I’ve fulfilled my promises to them. Always put your clients first during your work hours, but remember you’re allowed to use your own free time to promote your own brand as well, if that’s what you’re interested in doing.
If your own brand shows growth and you’ve built your own audience, you can even use it to help promote your smaller or newer clients, which I’ve done numerous times. It can be very difficult to bring a new brand into the spotlight, but if your brand has an existing platform or audience, it only benefits your clients to offer it to them.
PR Reps Should be Seen and Not Heard
This is one of my favorites, because I have yet to hear it spoken about any other members on a race team or in a race series. In practically every race series, we see drivers, engineers, team managers, series officials, pit reporters, and even journalists take turns in self-promotion. Through social media, behind the scenes articles, documentaries, blogs, interviews, and web articles we’ve seen each of these positions at one time or another share their side of the sport, and are usually met with positive receptions. Does this mean that these people are slacking on the job? Of course not. Are they stealing the spotlight from their clients? Hardly. They’re showing their expertise in their side of the sport, which provides the opportunity for their new fans to follow their endeavors, ultimately benefiting their clients.
Why should it not be the same for PR reps? Why of all positions in the sport, is this individual the one that needs to hide behind the curtain? Our job is to promote brands, so of all people, we should be knowledgeable and capable enough to self-promote based on our professional discretion.
It’s Not Necessary Because No One Cares About Communications
When I started KBru Comm, I wanted it to be different. I didn’t want it to be a company that just wrote press releases and provided live event updates. I wanted to create a community that was established on real relationships, making personal connections to the fans that increased as time passed.
Though KBru Comm’s #BruCrew fan galleries, we encouraged fans to take and share pictures of all our clients, and these photos went to a dedicated page on our website. Gradually, the galleries picked up momentum, and for the two and a half seasons the galleries were operational, almost 2,000 fan photos were submitted. When a new client was introduced, the fans would readily add them to their list of teams to get photos of and to talk about in their social media. Fans who would previously only take photos of Falken Tire, were then getting photos of John Edwards and Fall-Line Motorsports.
The great thing about race fans is that they can have more than one favorite team. They can collect autographs from anyone, they can attend multiple garage tours, and they can read press releases from any team they choose. Most importantly, fans are family, and fans are loyal. Through KBru Comm promoting itself, we were able to utilize that sense of community to benefit our own brand as well as each of our clients, while strengthening the bond with each fan.
This is something I feel is still very unique and what sets my brand apart. If I can offer my clients a positive result that is different from what the competition is doing, I will. Each time I post a new blog here, the analytics for my Client page shows spikes in visitor traffic.
Lastly, I choose to promote my brand because although word of mouth is a great way to get work, it’s still my business, and I want to advertise it. If I didn’t advertise, my work would still speak for itself and I’d still see a steady increase in incoming business. However, I have big goals for KBru Comm, and I don’t want to do things the way other PR companies in the industry do business. Whether it’s blogs like this to help other PR reps, behind the scenes pieces to get fans involved, fan galleries, or basic interaction, I want to continue to use nontraditional ways for me and my brand to connect to people on a personal level.
Racing can be a tough business. The last six months in American sports car racing have shown some legendary teams cease operations. The sport is in a constant evolution of survival. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your brand. Everyone, and I mean everyone, will have an opinion on what you do either way. It’s been my personal experience that by stepping out from behind the curtain, I’m able to promote my brand in a way that benefits me as well as my clients in ways that aren’t mainstream for other PR brands. As you continue to pursue a career in public relations, you’ll find what’s right for you.