"Get me some PR."
Unfortunately, PR doesn't work like that. You can't just order it and have it delivered or pick it up at the store. It requires a well thought out PR strategy and flawless execution to be effective.
Let's talk strategy.
Recently, a client hired my firm because another agency hadn't thought through its strategy. Its approach was strictly tactical and was missing the mark.
You can't rush through strategy. It requires research and creativity.
Over the years, I've noticed key problem areas when it comes to public relations strategy. Let's identify these areas, explain how you can solve the issues -- and create a winning PR campaign.
10 PR Strategy Problem Areas & How to Fix Them
1. Lack of Clear Goals and Objectives
Every race needs a finish line. And every PR campaign and strategy needs an end goal. Many people feel that PR is simply the natural progression for their business. They send out press releases, they contact journalists, they do social media...but they don't have any clear goals or objectives in mind.
Solution: Sit down and reflect on what goals and objectives you want to achieve for each campaign. Ask yourself, Whom do I want to reach? How can I do so? What will attract someone's attention? Your objectives might be to being to popularize a new sales technique of interest to sales managers and executives. Your goals might be a set amount of website traffic, leads, or sales. Be specific in these goals, and have a specific time period in mind (i.e., by XYZ month, I want to have X number of sales and Y number of people visiting my site every week). As you do this with every campaign, you'll have a clearer picture of where you are on the scale of your goals and how to adjust for the future.
2. Wrong Media Contacts
Many who start to implement PR fall into the trap of using the "spray and pray" method when sending out pitches. This is when you collect every journalist's email that you can find and send out mass emails to them with your pitch. Not only is this annoying to journalists, but it is completely ineffective.
Solution: Do your research. Every journalist has a beat, or interest, that they cover within their outlet. Look for journalists that cover your industry news specifically. It's no use contacting journalists in home and garden when you're a B2B tech firm. It may take longer to acquire the contact information and make connections with journalists in your industry, but it definitely pays off in the long run.
3. Poor Pitch Work
Another common mistake when it comes to pitches is not having a viable story. Reporters want something new, not a has-been topic. How can you take what you're offering and give it a different slant? Can you piggyback on a current trend story? Once you nail your story, personalize your pitch emails. Think about the dozens -- sometimes hundreds -- of pitch emails that cross a journalist's path in a given day or week. After a while, they can tell which pitch emails have been sent to a laundry list of other journalists. It's a major turn-off.
Solution: Again, it involves research. Once you land on a journalist who covers your industry, take the time to read the reporter's past articles and learn about the types of stories he or she covers. This will allow you to weave personal touches throughout your pitch email to show why you want the journalist to write your story. This provides a much more convincing pitch -- and one that'smore likely to get noticed.
4. Self-Promotional Stories
So many over-eager brands make the mistake of pitching stories that have no real value besides self promotion. But journalists -- and their audiences -- aren't going to care about your brand unless it has bigger value to the world around you.
Solution: To be effective in your media strategy, you need to become a storyteller. Your pitch should tell a compelling story and explain how it affects the world around you. Show how newsworthy this story is, perhaps with facts and figures, an attention-grabbing quote, or a video.
5. Lack of Consistency
Successful PR takes work. And you have to be in it for the long haul. The root cause of inconsistency is oftentimes a lack of planning. People get to a certain point, and then peter out. If you keep doing this, you won't feel like you're getting anywhere in your PR efforts.
Solution: Create a strategy or plan that will keep you on track, even when things slow down. This strategy should include backup plans to help you through multiple scenarios or tough areas that you come across.
6. No Measurement in Place
Admittedly, measurement is not the sexiest thing in B2B PR, and many find it dull or even scary. But without measurement, you have no idea what is working within your strategy and what needs to be tweaked. And without those little adjustments along the way, many PR strategies fall short of the goal.
Solution: Invest in a PR measurement tool that fits your needs. If you're just starting to implement a measurement program, we recommend you start with Google Analytics, a free program that works across most platforms. If you need something with more analytics power, or something more specific to your brand, you could look into programs like Onclusive (formerly AirPR) or TrendKite.
7. Press Releases Just Because
So many people are over eager when it comes to PR, creating and sending out press releases for everything in hopes of getting even a little limelight. This creates a boy-who-called-wolf-like scenario. Journalists and editors get so used to seeing your brand for "meh" articles that even when you actually have a newsworthy story, they'll most likely delete that as soon as they see who it's from.
Solution: Do not create stories where none exist. Create a press release strategy and approach it methodically. Vet every story and ask yourself, "Is this newsworthy?" "If this story came across my newsfeed, would I want to read it?" Questions like this help you to weed out the inferior stories and focus on the real gems that have the potential to get you some genuine media attention.
8. Poorly Written Press Releases
If your don't take the time to read through and correct your press release, it might get shot down before it even has a chance to get off the ground. The fact is that spelling, grammar, and even formatting play a major role in a press release's success or failure.
Solution: Take the time to read through your press release before sending it. Run it through a spell check program such as Grammarly to make sure that it has proper grammar and spelling. You should even run it by a colleague or team member to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks -- and that everything, from grammar and syntax, to presentation, is just right. Of course, ensure that it is checked by anyone else who might need to sign off. If you're quoting someone else in the release, give them a chance to vet your release.
9. Poor or No Follow Up
Many people think that their press release strategy ends when the email goes out. They expect a journalist or blogger to simply run with the story right from the press release. So when questions arise about the story, many teams are unprepared or slow to answer those questions.
Solution: Assign a dedicated team member to handle follow up questions. This team member should be thoroughly familiar with the story and be able to answer questions or connect the journalist to the right people.
10. Lack of Imagination
Many businesses find themselves in a rut -- they always pitch to the same outlets and write about the same things. While this may have worked in the beginning, your strategy will quickly grow stale if you continually follow the same path.
Solution: Instead, think outside the box. Do in-depth research to discover what outlets your audience frequents and what strategies can help you reach prospects more effectively. If this leads you out of your comfort zone, great. It is often outside of that zone that we get the best results.
If your public relations strategy isn't working the way you want, don't be too quick to throw in the towel. Look at areas where you can adjust your strategy and get it up and running smoothly.
Have you noticed other common PR mistakes? Let us know in the comments below.
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