You’ve had a Public Relations plan for a year and you’re not seeing results. Or perhaps you’re not attracting the audience you want. Maybe it’s both quantity and quality you want to improve upon? Public relations plans and campaigns require a whole lot more than just sending out press releases and making a few calls — or at least, they should. Mass emailing and cold-calling will only get you so much. If you really want your PR strategy to be effective, you’ll need to put more effort into networking, creating content and crafting pitches.
Does Nav Canada want to make the most of its PR campaigns? Of course! Follow these tried and true tips from successful business owners and the PR pros.
Know your audience
Seems pretty straight forward, right? Just like in Marketing (and life), know who you want to attract and craft creative content for that intended audience. Blindly sending out mass pitches to every news outlet you can find might get you some coverage, but it’s much more effective if you take the time to establish relationships with journalists at relevant media outlets. This means researching who covers which topics, finding out what interests them, and making personalized pitches.
One of the best tips for planning and running a PR campaign is to get to know the journalists or targets you’ll be pitching ahead of time. Learn what they like to cover. Follow their stories and actively comment on them. Build and update active profiles of your top 10, 20 or 50+ journalists, experts, etc… and leverage this insight during your pitch emails and calls.
You should also try interacting with them on social media to get more of a feel for their personality. Think about adding them to a Twitter list dedicated to their niche.
Now here’s the important part… Try to build an actual relationship so that when the time comes when you’re looking for coverage of your latest campaign, you’re reaching out to an acquaintance rather than just cold-calling a journalist who has no idea who you are. And like any ‘friend’, be they virtual, professional, personal or otherwise, don’t bombard them with anything and everything. Be sure what you’re lofting their way is something relevant. That will dramatically increase the receptiveness of the content and pitch.
Also, it doesn’t hurt to know what their publishing cycles are. For example, if you know they have a weekly blog and a monthly op-ed, try to time you pitch so that you are helping them reach a deadline. Any time you can make a journalists job easier, the more they will like (you) and listen.
Know your (brand) voice
Every successful brand needs to have a unique brand voice that is tailored to their audience. It doesn’t matter what your brand’s voice is, so long as you know what it is, that it works for your business and you both guard it with your life (well, almost) and maintain it consistently.
If you have a disruptive voice and like to stir things up, then be disruptive. If you are more reserved, that can work for you too. There is nothing worse than a PR campaign that wreaks of inauthenticity. Be interesting. Have something to say. Have opinions based on something concrete. But, make sure you are saying it in your brand voice.
It’s also important to keep in mind that just because one brand is saying something, it doesn’t mean you need to be saying it, too. Be original, be unique, be different, be whatever it is that’s consistent with your brand and voice… and stick with what works for you.
Before you run a PR campaign you need to make sure your website is prepared. Why invite the neighbourhood in when the reno isn’t done? And we don’t just mean cosmetically, either.
First, you should make sure your Web hosting can withstand a surge of thousands of visitors. Just imagine getting a ‘PR hug of death,’ when you hit the jackpot with a media placement and then your website crumbles from the traffic. Not only does the PR campaign suffer, but it hurts your general reputation and makes you come off as less trustworthy. Not to mention you boss thinks you’re less competent than before… not good, not good at all.
You also need to make sure your website is set up to take advantage of any extra publicity you get as a result of a campaign — this means offering deals or exclusive content to visitors. Be ready to capture email addresses with an offer people actually want to take advantage of by giving them a PDF resource that truly offers value. Or have a sale running to ensure you are in the best possible spot to begin a business relationship with as many new customers as possible. Whatever your goal is, you just need to ensure that you put as much effort into capitalizing on the PR as you do setting up the PR opportunity.
Follow the 10/80/10 rule
While you’re crafting your pitch, you need to maximize your time. It’s always a good idea to use the 10/80/10 rule to make the most of your campaign and maximize the return on your time.
Try spending roughly 10 percent of your time connecting whatever you’re promoting to a trending topic. You could then spend 80 percent of your time crafting the story and researching the journalists you’re targeting, their recent stories, areas of interest and anything else you can use to connect with them on a more personal level.
Then, once you’ve finished your research and crafted your story, synchronized with sales and marketing on the product (revenue generator) push, that’s when you launch your campaign.
Once you’ve done all this, spend the remaining 10 percent of your time actually doing outreaching and pitching.
Now this is were an average PR professional usually drops the ball. But not us, the superheroes of Communications… We want to be sure to work closely with Marketing and Sales to measure the impact on revenue. It’s great to create buzz, that’s what, in part, we are paid for. But ultimately, PR campaigns are done to drive traffic, create awareness and increase the bottom line. Measuring the effectiveness of each and every campaign allows you to determine what’s working and what’s not. Then you can adjust your plan and move ahead. Anything less and you’re just an average PR pro. And who wants the be average?
Get your execs writing
Reality is, you won’t always have newsworthy press releases to send out, especially if you’re a smaller business, so one way to get recognition for your company or clients is to blog and write contributed content for other media outlets.
One of the most difficult parts of doing PR for a small company or startup is that no one has heard of your company. On top of that, you’re probably not constantly churning out huge product releases like Apple or Google.
To keep your company afloat in a sea of press releases when you have no news to announce, you should establish the CEO of your company as a thought leader in their industry. Help him or her create thought-provoking and authoritative articles related to his or her area of expertise, then publish them on your blog or pitch to a bigger publication.
Being a thought leader doesn’t always mean you’re having to come up with your own unique content either. Today, we can share other insightful articles with our own commentary. This highlights that we’re ‘on trend’ and know what’s happening in the world, and our industry. That we have thoughts of our own but can also appreciate good thinking that others have. So share away, but be sure whatever you share is consistent with your overarching brand and voice.
Either way, it’ll help get your company’s name out there, gain some valuable links for SEO, and give you something to promote in your slower news seasons.
The bottom line…
You don’t want to rev up your PR machine without first identifying and confirming the ‘corporate tone and voice’, as well as the intended audience for the content in your campaigns. Know your audience and feed them what they want, in the voice you choose. Rinse, adjust (if needed), repeat. Otherwise, you may as well be yelling into the Grand Canyon, and listening to your own voice come back at you.