By Kath Walters

I used to have a folder where I kept a collection of the stupidest pitches I received from PR agencies. These were the ones that were so bad they made me and my colleagues laugh. But there were hundreds of others that were simply useless, and got thrown straight into the recycle bin.

Sadly, companies are paying PR agencies to write and send this kind of rubbish; the average retainer is $10,000 a month, according to the PR Institute. It wasn’t just a waste of money. These emails actually helped destroy their clients’ brands. They looked silly, out of touch and incompetent. Great!

What if 2015 was different?

You sack your PR agency, pocket the extra money – and yet you get more coverage in the media than you have ever had before.

Here’s the reason.

You and your companies will get media coverage by building your credibility as a reliable source with various journalists. That is how it is done. Develop your credibility, and then develop your relationships.

Journalists are in the game of building a contact book of credible sources.

So, you and journalists both want the same thing.

But PR agencies do NOT want you to build relationships with journalists. They want to own those relationships (or claim they do), and make sure that every contact comes through them. That’s their business model, and how they sell their services.

This is completely cool if they deliver amazing value to you, and get you regular gigs in the media that you most desire. It’s not cool if they are sending out mass press releases – typically really bad ones – and charging you for it.

If you and journalists want the same thing, why aren’t you just picking up the phone, and getting your story and your message out there?

There are a few important preparatory steps:  getting clear about your message, and making sure it’s accurately reported, plus a bit of other work. But once that is done, you’re back in the driver’s seat, and building a powerful media profile that is priceless in terms of exposure and brand building.

It does take time and work. A relationship with each journalist needs to be created, developed and maintained, and you need to become familiar with the issues, cycles and pressures that journalists work with. It’s not rocket science, though; it just needs a bit of communication and exchange.

The more successful you become at generating media, the more of a team you will need to support your efforts and appearances. You might reappoint your PR agency or employ some marketing staff to handle the busy work involved, help to keep evolving your message, and foster your relationships with journalists.

Then, you will get the benefit and value from your PR agency or marketing team, and every effort will be brand-building one.