PR or media relations is sometimes a final step in your communications mix – and I would usually look to see if your business is set-up and conducting your marketing (owned media) and your advertising (paid media) successfully first.
If you are ready for it and your objectives are to build your reputation, gain credibility for your brand and are looking for recognition and exposure from a third-party influencer like media, then PR (earned media) is the choice for you.
It’s important to recognise that PR is very much an earned media and is definitely not free – it takes time, patience, skill, planning and lots of resources, so if you don’t have any of these things – take a step back and focus on your marketing and advertising. PR isn’t for everyone.
If you make the decision that PR is worth the investment, then here’s a step by step guide to engaging your media.
STEP 1: PR Planning
It’s vital that you set out from the outset what it is that you are trying to achieve with PR. Which of your communications objectives will it achieve and how is it different or how will it integrate with your marketing and advertising plans?
Be clear on your audience (identify your end consumer segments), so you are clear who you are targeting and which media they likely read and be influenced by.
Think about your brand message. How do you or your business want to be portrayed in the media, what will you stand for, how do you want to be perceived.
Set a budget, resources and timeline.
STEP 2: KPIs and Measurement
It is vital to set KPIs as a benchmark for success, but be realistic – if it’s your first time engaging with media you might want to consider success as ‘building 3 strong relationships with relevant media’ and not ‘secure 100 clippings in the first month’! The KPIs also need to reflect the budget and investment in PR.
STEP 3: Set-up your internal PR foundations
Media will expect you to have the following available and ready to go, so be prepared.
- Write your business profile “boiler plate” for media requesting more information
- Decide on spokesperson / people – check availability and brief them on the campaign messages
- Source all logos and brand assets
- Have a variety of photos and videos available for your PR
- Create PR campaign assets (media pack, website pages, samples, demos, media portal)
- Design a media release template
- Conduct media training with your spokesperson / people (If required)
- Brief internal team members on any campaigns so you can integrate with marketing and advertising
STEP 4: Build you media database
If you’re looking for mass distribution, the best options can be ready-made PR databases, however even with these you have to think about segmenting your media in topic types and media types re: radio, TV, Print, online, mass, industry etc.
If you’re starting from scratch, Twitter can be a great way to look for contacts. Most media have Twitter accounts and you can search by outlet or by topic title re: Finance Editor.
Google is a fantastic tool as well. Set-up email ‘Google Alerts’ with your industry topics, competitor names or product types and when you receive the alerts make a note of the important journalists, editors and writers at the media outlets. Online news outlets list email addresses for journalists, but if in doubt go back to Twitter.
Buy newspapers, read the magazines and take note of the Editors names and emails who you believe cover your topics.
STEP 5: Connect with your media
Once you have your media database, it’s time to make contact. This could be done in a number of ways and usually a successful strategy will use multiple options over time.
- Individual outreach – connect with the media directly via phone or email and ask if there is opportunity for coverage or interviews. Ask them what they are covering in the coming months to see if there’s any opportunity to provide content. This might be a time you could introduce a spokesperson and provide a bio.
- Media release – if you have a newsworthy story or campaign – distribute this to the media contacts directly with a short intro.
- Pitching – you may have a number of stories / articles / thought-leadership areas that you can offer up. Personalise your pitch for each media. An individual piece of coverage can be much more powerful in the right outlet that multiple pieces in less relevant outlets.
- Responding to news pieces – on occasion you may see articles from your media that you’d like to be commenting on. When you see this – get in touch with your media and request either a follow-up piece or state your interest for the next news on this topic.
STEP 6: Follow-up and staying in touch
As I mentioned earlier, PR is a long-term plan so staying in touch with media at relevant times on phone, email and via social media will help. Make sure you’re across the news they are covering so you can build a relationship and make your contact with them timely.
STEP 7: Measure, learn and repeat
Depending on the size of your PR campaign, your measurement timelines might be variable. When measuring your PR use tools across your website visits, referrals from media, number of clippings, reach and social mentions from media.
Look deep into your PR results and learn from successes and areas where you might not have reached KPIs. Why was this? Was the news strong enough? Was the timing right? What was the media direct feedback?
Learn from your PR efforts – don’t give up, remember relationships and trust takes time, and keep planning for more PR – the results, in the end, are worth it!
Debbie Bradley, Founder and Director of LEODIS Marketing & PR is a no-fluff straight-talking professional with more than 20 years’ experience. If you want to chat about your PR activities or need help, contact Debbie today: email@example.com