PR Profile: Phoebe Netto on big PR for small budgets
Phoebe Netto is the founder and Managing Director of Pure Public Relations.
How did Pure Public Relations come about?
I was working in PR and marketing, but I felt really frustrated that small and medium sized businesses, charities and not-for-profits couldn't access the expertise that big budgets could. And there was a misconception that smaller budgets equal small results, and I didn't think that needed to be the case. There is a lot of time that can go into things that don't generate results that would mean something to a business. And when you're dealing with small to medium companies and not-for-profits, results really matter.
So 11 years ago I started Pure Public Relations, and the team and I bring our big-business experience to small and medium sized businesses and not-for-profits. Over time that's evolved to also include challenger brands and fast growing start-ups as well.
On Pure Public Relations’ website you say you have a reputation for getting coverage for businesses that don't seem newsworthy. Could you please share some tips or insights on this?
If you don't have the luxury of a large budget, you need to really dig below the surface further to uncover those newsworthy angles, rather than relying on hype in order to get attention. So that could be sharing expertise or advice in a really honest, authentic, helpful way. For example advice articles, opinion pieces, interviews based on being that helpful expert. Or if there are any dates or data of note that someone else has put together that we can leverage by being first in best dressed, or the most accessible or articulate spokesperson - gets the foot in the door.
We have an advantage over the big budgets if we have that first move advantage and are willing to speak in a more accessible or bold way.
How did you leverage the Federal Budget announcement for clients this year?
You can make some good assumptions of what the topics could be and which clients they could relate to. So you can start to prepare, make sure the client will be available and responsive on the night, and then on the night it's moving really quickly to pick out the relevant parts of the announcement and start to prepare commentary for each client. We were able to get comments out to journalists the night of, for a lot of the clients, and then started up again at 5am the next day to get the rest of them out once the clients have been able to send their thoughts through.
Then [it’s about] being as helpful as possible; sharing the high resolution images before you are asked for them, providing information about why the spokesperson has the authority to speak on that topic, and providing more insights than just regurgitating what's in the budget. With that combination we were able to get some previously unknown or smaller sized businesses hit all of the major papers and relevant trade publications as well, so it was a really good shortcut for them because we were able to leverage what was in the news cycle. Sometimes it really comes down to who's going to be the most helpful to the journalist, rather than who is the most impressive business or the most well known business.
Can you talk about a campaign you’ve done that has been particularly interesting or successful?
Probably some of the most memorable campaigns that we've worked on are the ones where you can see that the media coverage has had an incredibly meaningful impact on the organisation. For example, when a charity or not-for-profit that advocates for human rights issues receives millions of dollars of increased funding the day after they've done a radio interview that a political staff member has heard, and it's caused that staff member to pick up the phone for a meeting with the minister afterwards that's resulted in increased funding.
It is quite motivating. And then the other memorable campaigns are the ones where consistent results and strategic advice over time has meant that they have a very different reputation than what they did when they started as a client, and they start to understand the impact of that reputation. It opens doors for them, it helps them convert the sales quicker, it gives them confidence and boosts morale in their staff when they see their business being profiled in a positive way consistently over time.
Coming from a big agency background for a lot of us, and former journalists, we're able to say 'no' a lot. Saying ‘no’ to a client's request for a media release to go out for something that's not newsworthy. Or saying ‘no’ to a client being positioned in a way that we don't think will be helpful. All those times that we're able to confidently say ‘no’, it always gives room for the better ‘yes’ later on, in that the journalist now listens when we talk to them, because we only bring them interesting things.