In my *real life* (at the shops, coffee with the girls, talking to the neighbours) I often have to explain to people what it is that I actually do. Which reveals just how much work my ‘elevator pitch’ requires… I need something which succinctly nails why PR is not advertising, is the black sheep of the journalist family and is not all about stunts (although they have their place).
While I write that one down on my ever-expanding ‘to do’ list (and reflect on how close to reality The Thick of It has sometimes sailed…. if you haven’t watched it, you should) have a read through my PR tactic brain dump, and think about the tricks your business might unwittingly have up its sleeve!
Think quality, not quantity
Building media relationships and presence is an incremental process, but it also needs to be strategic. Avoid death by press release at all costs.
If you do feel a story merits a mass mail-out, it really has to be bona fide hard news – that means time-sensitive and tied to something like a report or launch. Other options include the soft news approach, which requires a targeted sell-in and leads with a pitch rather than a presser. Think less about why you want to tell the story and more about why a reader or viewer would (honestly) want to hear about it. It’s the old ‘public interest’ test …. is it either in the public interest or of interest to the public? Ask yourself that question and be honest in your answer. Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of an incessant PR ‘churn’ – it’s painful for journalists and disheartening for you.
Deal in data and knowledge
News requires something ‘new’. It sounds obvious, but that one little word trips so many businesses up. Just because you want to tell the world what you think or feel about a subject, or share detail on your product or service, doesn’t make it either new or interesting to the reader or viewer. Find a new way ‘in’ to talking about your area of interest by using proprietary data, such as customer surveys, market research, white papers, or even market insights based on your customers’ behaviour. Good stats give you a platform and make for great stories – just be sure to stay on the right side of data protection legislation.
Have the courage of your convictions
If you want your voice to be heard, you have to find it. It’s no good falling in with popular opinion – you have to be prepared to challenge the status quo, speak the unspoken and take a counterintuitive position. Sheep usually don’t grab headlines (that one makes me giggle).
Don’t play hard to get
Be available to provide commentary to the media. Strategic PR doesn’t just mean diarised – it’s about establishing key messages, audiences and outlets, planning and targeting and then, suddenly, jumping on the right opportunities as they appear. Flexibility is the name of the game. Being prepared to provide expert commentary when your subject matter hits the news desks is an ideal way to broker relationships and demonstrate your credentials. But, you have to be vigilant for opportunities and responsive when they do appear. If you aren’t, you can bet your bottom (and all those lost) dollars that your competitors will be.
If you have a story that needs to be told, get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org.