Somewhere along the teachings of what PR is and isn’t, some expert placed a high emphasis on press releases and the blasting of that news. Sure, that may have been the best practice at some point, when fax machines were still a means of communication, but today, public relations has morphed into som.....
I had a client email me last week asking about how public relations will remain valuable, credible and influential as Google continues to reshape its algorithm to direct other types of content to the first page of the search. That question was something I have been preparing for – and, in fact, shaping my business around. The answer is found in adaptation.
Best practices change. Sure, many fundamentals remain the same. Hitters still swing a bat at the ball that pitchers throw. That hasn’t changed much. However, weight training (and, ehem, steroids), speed training, glasses and contacts, and recovery methods have adjusted the game of baseball in which the best practice used to have pitchers fighting to win 30 games in a season. That no longer exists.
Google is to PR as weight training was the baseball. Every time the figureheads over at Google get the idea to change something or adjust the way we do things, adaptation is a must – or else we would all bounce over to Bing or Yahoo. PR is the same. The shifts in Google simply mean PR agencies will have to slightly shift the way they deliver the news.
When it comes to brands finding success in PR, it’s much more than just the press release and media pick-ups, it’s about sustainability of credible messages – and increasing the amount of eyes on the buzz you create. Far too often, brands hire agencies and the PR stops at, “Hey, we have great news for you – we secured an awesome placement”. In reality, though, that should be the beginning.
Much like any campaign, each media hit should have a campaign connected to it – or a flow chart. Before a story is secured, there is prep work and planning that should go into it – especially if you are going to have a controlled message. That planning could be your agency identifying the right sources within your brand; writing a media pitch; practicing the media pitch on peers; preparing a media list; calling the media and selling them the story; following up again; getting a yes, I am interested in interviewing your source; calling the source and preparing them with expected questions, talking points and agenda planning (you should have an agenda prior to your interview); coordinating the interview; following up with the source and reporter for a follow-up punch list; sending over more material; monitoring for run date; and then when it runs, sending it to you.
This is typically where the campaign ends, but in today’s world, this should be where it begins. If a third party (credibility in the form of a reporter) has written a piece about you (controlled messaging), you have your business pick-up line, meaning, you have your good-looking selling tool to now build stronger credibility.
When the piece runs, you get organic coverage – anyone who reads or views or listens to that media placement in the moment. Then, you get a little more viral reach depending on how the media outlet optimizes the story through its website and Social Media channels. Then, you get to run with it.
Typically, you will place this article on your website, which is certainly a good starting point (make sure to post as text – and not the whole story – with a link to the rest of the content). But, there are plenty of other things you can do to expand the reach of your story:
1) Post On Your Social Sites: This will put more eyes on your article.
2) Promote Your Story on Social Sites: Facebook Ads can direct more people within your defined target audience to read the story of influence.
3) Send to Your Email List: If people have given you their email address, that typically means they are a fan of information on your brand. For B2B or for B2C uses, send the article celebration to them. This can be sent to prospects, potentials, purchased lists, etc.
4) Send to Your Influencers (or post on your LinkedIn Groups): When your brand has buzz, ride the wave.
5) Post on All Your Websites: This way, you can increase the reach through your earned and organic audiences.
6) Take the Headline and Get More: If one reporter covered your story, you may be able to generate more media coverage by leveraging that headline.
7) Create a Printed Copy and Display in Your Business/Restaurant/Store: Go to a Five Guys and read the news on the wall – very rarely will you find the pieces are about that exact location. They do a great job at leveraging their brand buzz across every unit.
8) Add the Printed Copy to Your Sales Materials: When a third party says you are great, ride that wave.
9) Post the Article To Other Sites: There are tons of sites you can post your story to. Aggregate your content.
10) If The Piece is Big, Mail It: Direct mail can still be effective, especially if sending to a clear, defined audience.
By conducting an additional punch list against your press, you can increase eye balls against it. When you do that effectively, you can increase the positive influence of your third party credibility. If you are going to invest in PR, use it. PR firms are there to bring you awareness. When that awareness arrives, push it – tell everyone and anyone why your brand deserved that buzz.