Expert perspective: PR and publicity, how to start and where it’s headed

Pro insights from Kellen Coleman: entrepreneur, author and award-winning PR expert

I recently discovered that PR or public relations date back to the heyday of the newspaper (circa the 1900s). The objective was to get placement in the newspaper (aka earned media). Fast forward to today, PR has diversified into the digital ecosystem.

You could argue the majority of entrepreneurs and influencers want PR, but most don’t get it or know how to execute an effective PR campaign. How do you go to get started?

Recently, I sat down with Kellen Coleman to get his perspective on PR and publicity. Kellen’s a self-made PR pro, owns a PR consulting firm and started his business based on an early career in media sales and placement. His secret sauce is finding your story, helping you tell that story, and finding the right outlets, so your story is consumed.

Prox: Tell us about your customer?

>> Kellen Coleman:

“This goes against every best practice, but I don’t have a particular target. I help a lot of influencers, government agencies, and non-profits. My customers are diverse, across so many industries, the common things are they’re looking to stand out, they need to grow their brand, and they know they need to do something different. What I’ve learned is everyone has a business and a book in them. I help tell that story. There isn’t any magic, but there is a process.”

“Everyone has a business and a book in them. I help tell that story. There isn’t any magic, but there is a process.”

Kellen coleman

Prox: What are some common mistakes novices make with PR?

>> Kellen Coleman:

“If you haven’t done PR before, it’s tough to navigate the landscape and understand how to pitch your story to the right people. The second is how to pull everything together. I do see a lot of common issues like: 

  • Not investing enough time, resources in PR to create an ROI.
  • Not understanding how to maximize PR coverage and creating a long-term strategy.
  • Seeing PR as an island and not integrating PR with digital channels
  • Investing in the wrong channels and not finding the right channels for their audience.

There’s a lot of ego. I see brands believing their hype vs understanding what the market is looking for and what the market thinks about them.”

“If you haven’t done PR before, it’s tough to navigate the landscape and understand how to pitch your story to the right people.”

Kellen Coleman

Prox: There are a lot of experts in your field, what questions do you recommend people ask before hiring a PR or publicity consultant?

>> Kellen Coleman:

“Do your homework, see who they represent, look at previous campaigns/work, and also match their capabilities to what you think you need. I would then go into asking questions like: 

  • What do you think of our value proposition? 
  • Get an understanding of how they measure success (does that align with your goals)
  • Ask about their financial model (how do they make money, does that work with your business goals? Will you get enough support or will you continuously go over hours.
  • Understand the team, whether you’ll have access to their leadership or senior staff 
  • Ask about their thoughts on the future of their industry.  
  • Ask what they need from you. 

Now, if the consultant says they can make you famous. Run. And, I’d never pay based on ad placement.”

“If your PR consultant says they can make you famous. Run. And, I’d never pay based on ad placement.”

Kellen Coleman

Prox: Where do you go for inspiration?

>> Kellen Coleman:

“I always go back to my family. They’re never afraid of telling me what they think. My wife is also my best sounding board for ideas. There’s also a verse that I reference a lot, ‘Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines.’ The way I see it is if you’re around bad company, that’s going to impact you negatively.”   

Prox: Do you have any future predictions on the industry?

>> Kellen Coleman:

“The future is faster than you think, and PR is going through a resurrection. The new focus will be on the relationship and making the right connections. Technology in PR will be taking a majority of what people in PR did and do a better job of it like predicting when a story will go viral and how.”  

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