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5 Easy Steps To Better PR

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Let’s face it, public relations is not brain surgery. But if it’s so easy, why do so many people get it wrong? Journalists complain that PR executives don’t know how to pitch. Clients complain that PR executives don’t know how to improve the bottom line. Everyone seems to think PR is something anyone can do, yet complain about most people doing it.

And maybe they’re right, anyone can do PR. Anyone can use a phone – but that doesn’t mean they communicate well.

Here are five simple things you can do to ensure better PR for your business.

  1. Research – You wouldn’t start a business without doing research on the competitive landscape, market appetite and other values, right? So why would you execute a PR campaign without researching those very same things and more? Especially in this day and age of social content – imagine not doing your research and executing a social campaign with a really bad hashtag that’s already been used. Oops. You’d get attention alright, but not the kind you were hoping for, we’d bet. badhashtag
  2. Stop Drinking The Kool-Aid – We’re sure that your product is the best thing since sliced bread, but then again, isn’t everyone’s? Yes, within the four walls of your office space, it’s easy to get caught up thinking what you are doing is so ground breaking, so amazing that every journalist will want to cover it, every influencer will want to tweet about it. Step back. Look around. Stop the groupthink and don’t be a “yes man” to every idea the CEO comes up with. There are thousands upon thousands of startups in the U.S. who feel the same way about their product, all competing for attention and eyeballs. Be realistic, don’t pitch fluff. Tie your product to a bigger mission or trend – how and who are you helping? What are you changing? Don’t over promise – and don’t be self indulgent - in your marketing materials. Be straight forward. Be enthusiastic – but keep it focused on the problem you’re solving. Case in point, from this TechCocktail article about Jason Kincaid’s “The Burned-Out Bloggers Guide to PR”:Prissue.jpg
  3. Just Say No – Anyone who’s ever worked on the PR agency side can relate to this quandary. Your client wants you to execute an absolutely ridiculous campaign that you know will not achieve the desired results. But the client is always right, right? No, no, no. You are supposed to be the strategic insider who understands a bad idea that won’t work. You’re the expert. Part of an expert’s job is to say no. If you’re working with a client or a boss who doesn’t respect your counsel, address it with them – and make sure that you tell them that you will not be held accountable for the results, and that you want it on record that your counsel was against this idea. And while you’re at it, tell them why you’re a better employee/partner than someone who will just “yes” them to death.
  4. Get Picky – Back in the day, PR practioners could get away with appeasing clients with pages among pages of efforts. Reports emphasized quantity of efforts – pitches sent out, reporters contacted, awards and speaking applied for, number of Tweets and Facebook posts, etc. But then along came the proliferation of data and analytical insights, and suddenly PR – thankfully – is all about quality and results, not quantity of possibilities. Therefore, the best PR executives today will put that strategic hat on again, and get picky with what programs they are recommending to clients/bosses. Ideally, this will be based on PR analysis and measurement, as well as predictive analytics. (If you don’t have a good measurement tool, call us.) Don’t get a presence on every social channel and execute a minimal (read: stretched thin) effort – do a great job at a few that really impact your business. Don’t apply for every award just so you can slap some logos on your site – identify those that will really build awareness and credibility among your target audience. Don’t spend time and money pitching every reporter on earth. You get the gist, right? It kind of goes back to #3…just say No to things that don’t work, and don’t execute a PR program that’s not right for your business.
  5. Plan Ahead - Just like product development usually takes longer and costs more than you thought it would, so does PR. Do not think that the day before you launch is a good time to reach out to reporters and tell them about your new product/site/store, expecting that they’re going to write something up about your news the next day. Don’t leave the content development to the last minute (remember, #1 goes into this as well – and research takes time). In order to execute your best campaign, plan to begin executing against a strategy about 6-8 weeks in advance. Talk to an expert about how to approach media in advance of your news being public – there’s a fine line between giving them enough time to write something and having the news come out before you’re ready. But that’s another post for another time.
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