Getting great PR for your brand doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, but it does require effort and attention. PR is not a passive sport. Even if you have an agency, they won’t be effective without support and guidance from your leadership team. If you roll your sleeves up and pay due attention, your rewards will be well worth the energy. Here are a few tips.
1 – Pay Attention to Popular Topics in Your Industry
If you want to get earned media, a good place to start is to figure out what kind of stories are earning media in your space. Read a wide variety of business, trade and technical publications to see what journalists are writing about. Pay close attention to articles that are getting audience engagement, specifically those with many comments and social shares. This is a good indication that you’ve found a topic of interest to your potential prospects.
2 – Think Like a Journalist
Put yourself in the shoes of the people you want to cover your brand. Journalists often face tight deadlines with multiple story commitments. The more “fully-baked” your pitches are, with included details, customer quotes, images or other reference material, and the easier you make life for the writer, the more likely you are to earn coverage.
3 – Know Your Target
It is essential to deliver the right pitch to the right person. There’s no use sending ideas, press releases, or other pitches that are out of alignment with what the journalist normally writes about. You must understand each target and deliver information that is designed specifically to appeal to them. Irrelevant pitches will not only be ignored, but might get you moved into the junk folder permanently.
4 – Build Momentum with Smaller Publications
We all want to get into the New York Times or TechCrunch, but you shouldn’t neglect smaller niche or local publications. They can be very effective ways to spread your message and often start the ball rolling that will lead to coverage in the more impressive publications.
5 – Think About Context
One of the facts of life that is hardest for PR professionals to accept is that journalists don’t care about your product. They are wholly unwilling to become your marketing arm. What they might care about, however, is how your customers are solving business challenges. They might care about trends in your industry and be willing to talk about how you fit into the broader landscape. Putting your company and your products into context will help shift the conversation away from features toward something that will impact the audience.
6 – Take a Strong and Different Position
Journalists are interested in what’s new and what’s different. It is important that you have a unique point of view to express. Make your positions firm, not wishy-washy. Don’t say, “It looks, perhaps, like more people might buy smart watches in 2015.” Say, “2015 is the year of the smart watch.” Think in sound bites.
7 – Be Persistent, But Not Pesky
Another sure way to get your email address blacklisted and your voicemails un-returned is to stalk reporters like prey. It is ok to follow up if you send a pitch and don’t hear back, but silence after a reminder means disinterest. Accept it and move on. Reach out again only when you have something new and different to offer.
There’s no magic PR bullet. Having good analytics helps immensely, but in order to be as effective as possible, you are going to need to get your hands dirty. Both strategic and tactical efforts are necessary to put your brand in the best position to succeed.