Kristine Neil

Public Relations

A Modern Spin on Public Relations

Public RelationsKristine NeilComment

(And, no, it’s not all about spin.)

When you think about public relations, the first word that comes to mind is probably spin. You’re used to hearing about companies that have done some not-super-legit things… and then hired someone to try to convince you otherwise. You think that PR is a luxury for huge corporations that can afford to have a third party manage their (usually poor) reputations. You think of spokespeople that have been hired to represent products or services despite never having used or endorsed them in real life. You think of the people on TV that seem to think if they just SHOUT LOUD ENOUGH that what they say will seem more... true. And truth be told, you’re right.

But you’re also wrong. These notions all rely on outdated stereotypes of the work public relations experts can do for you and your business - even your small business. It’s time to talk about modern PR.

Hold up - isn’t Markon a branding agency? Yes, we are. And what we’ve discovered over the years is that building brands is not about creating logos or building websites. Sorry to let you down on that but those are just the things we do to help connect your business to the public. Branding is about communication.

Public Relations is Branding, Evolved

Branding is a natural bridge to public relations and TBH your branding agency is the best possible public relations expert you can have. We’ve already taken the time to get to know you, your business, your goals, your challenges. We’ve researched your industry, your target demographic, your competitors. We know your strengths and weaknesses. We’ve studied the political and economic environment your business operates in. Who better to help you communicate with the world?

What we’ve learned is that we can craft a beautifully unique brand identity suite or put together a flawless social media marketing campaign but that today those things are just not enough. Communications are 1000x more important than your logo, your branding or your website. So, while it’s important to pick out brand fonts and colors equal time should be spent talking about brand voice and the particulars of how you plan to stay relevant.

Just as branding has shifted over the years, so has PR. It used to be that a logo was a brand. That was it. Slap Coca-Colaⓒ on it and color it red and it’s branded. Push a press release out to the local news outlet, shake a few hands and call it public relations. What we know now is that the fundamentals of both industries have changed, and continue to evolve and that most small businesses aren’t well positioned to handle either very well on their own.

Our take on public relations is a modern hybrid that combines traditional best practices along with intimate knowledge of the current media landscape. Let’s look at some of the different aspects:


  • Trade Shows & Events

  • Crisis Communications

  • Public Reputation

  • Sponsorship Opportunities

  • Press Release Distribution

  • Media Relations (Newspapers, TV, and Radio)


  • SEO & Link Building

  • Review Management

  • Online Reputation

  • Sponsored Content Opportunities

  • Ad Placement

  • Media Relations (Bloggers, YouTubers, and Instagrammers)

Our Definition of Modern PR


Modern public relations is not just communicating with the public and media (push) but how the public and media communicate with your brand (pull). It’s navigating this balance and all the different brand touchpoints where an agency like Markon can really help your small business shine. The end goal is that you’ll have built mutually beneficial relationships with your community, both digitally and IRL.

When to Call in the Pros

Now that you know that hiring a public relations agency isn’t just for corrupt zillionaires and that managing your branded communications is the single most important thing you can do to future-proof your image, when is it time to bring Markon on board? Here are a few times to consider reaching out:

  • You got a bad online review and you don’t know what to do.

  • You want to set up some comm guidelines for employees who are managing company social media accounts.

  • Your posts on social media are falling flat and not getting any engagement.

  • Your blog posts aren’t getting any backlinks.

  • You’re looking for media coverage - whether traditional or nontraditional.

  • You want to promote a new product, service, promotion or division.

  • Your company is restructuring or experiencing change/disruption and you want your audience to know what is happening straight from the source: you.

If you skimmed everything above just to get to the bottom line, here it is: branding without a communication plan in place is outdated. A PR campaign without a strong brand is just as useless. It’s the interplay between all of these moving parts that requires finesse and the solutions available aren’t just for the big guys. If you’re a small business owner and you’re struggling with feeling like you spend most of your day shouting into a vacuum, Markon is here for you. No spin.

This Is Why I'm Hot

Strategy, Public RelationsKristine NeilComment

In an era of LinkedIn endorsements and like buttons, it’s pretty easy to find yourself building content (or even a whole brand) based around boosting your social statistics. We’d all be lying if we didn’t admit that there’s a bit of joy in hearing the ding dong notification of someone sharing your image or liking your post. We cultivate the best of ourselves to share with the world. We find validation in the number of little hearts each of our heavily filtered Instagram pics receives. There’s a little hope out there for all of us that if our videos are just.crazy.enough. they’ll go viral and we can get our 15 minutes.

I’m not saying any of this is inherently bad. Social media matters - a lot. But there are things you trust to social media and things you don’t. Being popular doesn’t mean you’ll be profitable. So let’s talk about branding. And what it means to build a brand that confidently rises above social stats.

Branding (and business) mistake numero uno in my book is treating your business decisions as if they were contestants in a beauty pageant. Business is not a popularity contest. As a business owner, you’re cheating yourself out of long-term viability by giving up all your branding decisions to the general public. All too often, I see logo variations get posted to Facebook with captions like “hey friends help me decide which logo to pick for my business! vote A or B!!”. This is not what we mean when we say that market research to understand your target demographic is necessary!

Putting major branding decisions about design, naming, strategy, etc. up for a vote does nothing but undermine your ability to confidently run your own business. Do you poll people when you’re at the office supply store? “hey friends I’m really torn between black or blue pens! vote A or B!!” On a much larger scale, do you ask random strangers about paying your bills? “hey friends I can’t pick whether to pay the electric or the internet! vote A or B!!” Do you poll your social network when it comes time to pay your taxes? Your employees? Yourself? Do you ask them what they think when you’re trying to decide whether you can afford to expand or buy a piece of equipment? When you’re dreaming of the next product you’ll add to your line?

Don’t trust people without any skin in the game to make business decisions for you. They have nothing to lose. You do.

What I’m getting at here is that you’re the head honcho because you know what your business needs when it comes to all of those other things. You don’t trust the input of people without skin in the game - without the business acumen to do what you do - to make such decisions for you. So what is it about branding and design that you don’t value enough to do the same? After all, we’ve already talked about how great branding is a better predictor of success than almost anything else.

In business, and as business owners, we’ve got to play the long game. This means taking the things that matter the most to building a profitable business and holding them sacred. And this means not kowtowing to social stats. You’ve got to know why you’re hot and then go forth.

There’s a lot that goes into building the visual components of your brand and they matter just as much as the voice you use to communicate that brand to the world. I didn’t just show up one day and decide that it would be really fun to make super pretty things. I know that my passion lies in helping businesses communicate better with their stakeholders and customers. I love building businesses. And there’s rarely a decision that I make during my day that I feel necessary to post on social media about. And I make a lot of decisions.

The people I conference with on important business decisions (or even branding decisions of our own) are people that have experience and a proven track record to be able to provide such advice. As in, not my friend’s cousin’s first-grade teacher who happens to follow me on Twitter.

So while I will continue to post cute cat videos and airplane wing pics to social and find joy when everyone goes crazy over them, I won’t leave the future of my business to such a fate. When you’re training to play in the big leagues, you don’t bring in your tee ball coach. I’ll take profits over popularity any day of the week.