(We've updated this popular post with the latest information)
A good PR strategy starts with a clear definition of PR.
PR is often thought of as garnering press mentions -- the art of convincing the media to write about your company. Others think PR is synonymous with marketing. Both of these definitions miss the mark, however, taking the spotlight off the key role of PR, especially in the B2B space: building a company's reputation.
How do you build a company's reputation?
For starters, don't start with your company. That may sound paradoxical. After all, how do you build a company's reputation without talking about it?
You do that by talking up your buyers' needs and your understanding of what prospects are seeking. Prospects only care about what you're selling if it can help them solve a specific problem. Otherwise you're whistling Dixie.
- When you're on a sales call, what language engages your prospects?
- What challenges do your prospects face?
- What solutions can you offer to your prospects that will make their life easier? Decrease their costs? Increase revenues?
Once you have a clearly defined message that focuses on the needs of your prospects, it should be used across all your channels to build your brand and position yourself as an industry thought leader. You want to ensure that everyone who should see your message does.
How to Create an Effective PR Content Strategy
Do you have a documented content strategy? If not, this needs to be your number one priority. Just as you can't build a house without a foundation, you can't create effective content without a strategy.
Know whom you're creating content for, your objectives, and how to measure your results. Document a strategy that includes the following:
- Buyer Persona - Whom do you want to reach with your content? Who is your ideal customer? What influencers does your ideal customer follow? (Hint: Be as specific as possible -- the broader your defined persona is, the less it will hit the mark.)
- Goals - What objectives do you want to reach? What's your timeline for doing so?
- Measurement - What analytics program will you use to measure your progress? What metrics are important to your goal-oriented strategy?
- Use of Media - What kinds of media do you plan on using -- earned, owned, paid, or shared -- and how much of each. We'll get into more about these below.
- Accountability - Who is responsible for creating this content? The larger your team, the more clearly defined the responsibilities should be.
Once you know the answers to these questions, it's time to start creating content. But what kinds of content will you create? It all depends on the needs of your brand, but there are four basic kinds of media for you to choose from. These include:
- Earned media
- Owned media
- Shared media
- Paid media
It's not always clear cut what media is the best for your particular brand. What's key is to reach people on different media channels and at different stages of the buyer's journey.
Let's now look at each form of media individually and learn what it is and how you can use that media in your own strategy.
The important thing is to reach people on different media channels and at different stages
The 4 Components of an Effective PR Strategy, Explained
Let's start with a clear definition of earned media.
Earned media is publicity gained from backlinks from reputable sites, word of mouth, online reviews, and blogger, press, and influencer relations. It is essentially a third-party endorsement of your brand.
With a growing distrust of brands and paid advertisements, word-of-mouth and endorsements from a trusted third party can be worth its weight in gold.
Of course, we all want some of that. So how do you get it? And how does it help you to reach people?
How to Get Some of That Earned Media
This type of media isn't created overnight. Be prepared to invest time and consistent effort into building this aspect of your content. After all, it isn't called "earned" for nothing.
The number one secret that will help you to get earned media is to focus on other people. Be helpful and on point. Build a reputation as a gracious, knowledgeable person who is ready to help others. Here are a few ways you can do this:
- Engage with bloggers by commenting on and sharing their posts.
- Pitch newsworthy stories to journalists within your industry.
- Join online communities and take part in the discussions.
Your hard work will pay off. As you focus on others, it will build your credibility and thought leadership -- which is the pinnacle of good PR.
Once you've built a reputation as a helpful person, you will want to get noticed in outlets that your prospects are likely to read. This may include blog posts, trade journals, or even local newspapers. To get attention, take time to generate awareness of your brand, and build relationships with industry bloggers and reporters.
This kind of media benefits you in more ways than one. Google attributes more authority to your content when it is linked to by other sites. So not only does your company and brand get seen by more people, your content is also more likely to rank on page one of Google.
Note: In recent years, traditional media outlets have faced a decrease in staff writers, and the industry has seen a rise in online publications. Because of this, you may need to change your focus from simply big-name media outlets to also include bloggers and social media influencers.
Pro Tip: Offer to be a source for journalists. One way to do this is to register for a free service like HARO (Help a Reporter Out). This puts you in a prime position to help out and get to know journalists in your industry. It gives the journalist the source they need to complete a story and it gives you some much-needed earned media. Another way is to follow industry journalists on social media, share their work and be attuned to what they're writing and talking about. That way you'll be more likely to be heard when you can help.
Click Here for the Strategy That Has Taken Companies from Anonymity to Industry Icon
What is owned media?
Media that you own is content that you create. It includes blog posts (Not a writer? Click here to find out how to fix that), videos, white papers, SlideShares, infographics, ebooks, case studies, and all the content featured on your website.
How to Reach People with Owned Media
The beauty of this type of media is that you have complete control over it. But it's not simplyabout creating content and hoping people find it. Strategy plays a vital role in the success of your owned media.
An important part of owned content is making it visible to search engines. This helps new people to find and learn about your company. First, choose a keyword or phrase that your target audience uses a lot. Make this keyword as specific as possible -- this will make it less competitive and easier for you to rank on the first page of Google.
For example, it would be nearly impossible to rank for something like "tech company" -- tech giants like Apple and IBM already dominate that keyword. Instead, include details such as location and type of tech. "Small internet security company in the greater Boston area" is going to get you much better results.
Once you've nailed down a keyword, use it in your article. While SEO best practices can get complicated, here are a few key places to put your keyword:
- 3-5 times throughout your content, including your first paragraph
- Your meta description
- Alt text of images
- An h2 tag (subheading)
While SEO is important, it shouldn't be your main focus. Pay attention to the quality of your content. Top-quality content is well-researched and provides value to the reader. In order to really reach prospects with content, look at your website, not as a sales mecca, but as an invaluable resource for industry information.
Visuals are another important component of top-shelf content. In fact, visual content, according to psychologist, Jerome Bruner, is far more engaging than written content. He asserts that people remember 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read, and 80% of what they see and do.
Pro Tip: Make sure that every piece of content you use has a visual component. Take some of your well-performing blog posts and turn them into infographics or videos to appeal to a new audience.
Create content with an aim to help your audience. What questions do people ask most often? What problems face your industry? What new trends and insights would prospects find helpful in their everyday work? Create valuable content that answers these questions and ultimately fills a need.
Shared media primarily encompasses using social media to distribute valuable content, including your own.
Just because you have a Facebook page doesn't mean you are reaching people with shared media. Rather, an effective integration of earned and shared media means that you are feeding buyers with a rich diet of content that's regularly served up in an appealing way.
Compared to the three other forms of media, shared media is still fairly new. But it offers exciting opportunities for businesses to publish their content online and attract new audiences.
What Networks Should You Use?
Typically speaking, Twitter is used for informational purposes. Is there breaking news about your industry? Do you wish to share your latest blog post with your fans? Twitter is the outlet for you.
However, if you wish to build community, start local dialog, or publicize a local event, Facebook is what you need. With over 2.20 billion users on the network every month, Facebook offers a vast and diverse audience.
LinkedIn is the go-to platform for B2B buyers who are seeking information, so make sure you publicize your content on that platform as well.
Don't neglect the power of Slideshare, Instagram, and Pinterest, which are the forerunners for sharing visual content.
This doesn't mean that you need to be on all of these social networks. Choose the ones where your target audience spends the bulk of its time -- and ignore the others. It's better to focus your time on a few specific networks rather than spread yourself too thin and risk neglecting all of them.
Don't neglect the tools that are available on these social networks. Most networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, have a live video feature that offers an easy, engaging way for you to reach your audience. Many audiences search for new content by searching hashtags. LinkedIn offers its users a unique and powerful publishing tool. Use social media to its full potential by taking advantage of such features.
Pro Tip: To be successful on social media, you need to be social. Don't let your pages do the talking. Create content that starts conversations, engages your audience, and keeps them coming back.
Let your audience get to know you as a brand. Share content about your employees, your corporate culture, and the ideals about which you're most passionate.
The concept is pretty simple:
Paid media is media you have paid for. This includes Google Adwords, retargeting, and social media promotions.
Basically, this type of media boosts the performance of your free content. Media outlets, especially on social media, become more sophisticated all the time, and allow users to target specific audiences, based on interests, gender, geography, and even where they work. With this kind of precision, media that you pay for can be very effective, if used in the right way.
How Can I Use Paid Media without Looking Like a Used Car Salesman?
This one can be tricky. Misuse of paid media is one reason why PR can have a negative connotation. You don't want to seem like the sleazy used car salesman who talks about your kids for ten minutes only to see if he can upsell you.
In most cases, media that you pay for is best saved for last. If you're using social media promotions, always humanize your message to make it more appealing. Add a little humor into your ad. And, above all, make the value of your advertisement clearly evident.
In the end, always make sure you have a good reason for interrupting your audiences' normal feed.
Pro Tip: Humanize your message. This is most important on paid media, where people will shut you down in a second if they smell an over salesy message. Humor is a great way to put your audience at ease and connect with them. Tell a story that gets your point across and adds a more human touch to your content.
These four methods are the pillars of an effective, well-rounded strategy that ensures your company's message is heard loud and clear.
Developing an effective public relations strategy in an organic manner that actually gets results is no easy feat. It takes a lot of patience and effort. And it all starts with the know-how. Need some of that?
Would you like more tips to boost your strategy and ensure your success? Then check out our tried-and-true Storypress Technique, in which we lay out the strategy we've personally used to transform startups to industry icons.
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