I watched a great online marketing video last week hosted by a popular CEO. He made excellent points throughout; yet, one message particularly hit home. He voiced that the real problem with startups and young brands was not producing quality services and products; the real issue was marketing, gaining attention, informing people of your offered goods and services.
Traditionally, brands pursued the ‘media’ (mainly news sources) to gain exposure. Before the boom of the Web, PR reps would pen press releases and make attempts to contact various sources, which would possibly run a related story. That was then; things are different for modern-day PR people. Sure, there is a lot more competition in each vertical; yet, it is easier to find and connect with news sources.
Consider implementing the following actions to build PR connections:
Twitter never sleeps. There are people tweeting quips and tips at all hours of day and night, making it difficult to read everything, but easy to pinpoint particular authors. It’s common for people to include author names (sometimes praise) along with and associated URL. I wouldn’t suggest going overboard with compliments; but, if you enjoyed reading a piece, it’s a nice sentiment for a writer to hear.
If you find an author, writing stories relatable to your vertical, endeavor at making a connection. Twitter makes it easy to get ‘to know’ someone a bit, as users tweet about business and personal life too, giving readers an opportunity to ascertain a ‘larger picture’ regarding online personalities.
Example: Yesterday, I read a story featuring Topps’ mobile applications. Topps is a traditional brand trying to make an impact in a new digital market. My boss, Ken Wisnefski, has knowledge of the baseball card industry and online marketing, potentially providing advice regarding Topps online pursuits. If I was the PR person, I could attempt to connect with the story’s author.
Facebook has been ‘around’ for some time now; but, businesspeople have really just began engaging the platform in the last couple of years, especially after introducing brand pages. Recently, Facebook has introduced timelines.
News sources are ready to make online impacts, much like traditional sources did in providing news for decades. Take a gander at some popular news sources in the industry; they are trying very hard to integrate into the digital age; the brands are using social media platforms like Facebook. Take a look at the timelines of a few. Can you see patterns in stories covered? What stories are receiving the most engagement by readers and social media followers? Those are likely to be stories pursued in the near future; or, you can at least gain a ‘feel’ for what kinds of stories are ‘hot’ and ‘trending’ at the moment.
Example: Let’s take a look at the Wall Street Journal’s Facebook timeline. I see from the timeline, the WSJ posted a video about good-guy CEOs. I could attempt to engage the author through the WSJ page; but, it’s not as personal; I’m likely to pursue an author via their own social profile. However, here I see the story has gotten a lot of shares, people are interested. Could I use this information to pen a ‘hot’ story for my own online property? Yes. Could I proactively ‘interview’ my CEO and pitch a possible follow-up to the story’s author? I could do that too. The timeline gives me a lot more information than PR people had years ago before the boom of the Web.
Are you winning with your PR pitches or missing the mark, like an inexperienced pitcher from the California penal league? Remember Rick ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn from Major League? You may know him from his present-day role as Charlie Sheen (but I digress). Rick had the ‘heat’ behind his hurls but his approach needed tweaking. A customized pair of Clark-Kent glasses and a music-filled montage of highlights later, Vaughn comes around, rallying the once-trailing Indians behind him.
What does your PR ERA look like? Are you winning? I read a great PR post (filled with 92 ways to get press coverage )by Chris Winfield yesterday. He addressed an array of PR-related topics including research, working the phones, and contacting members of the media.
The last topic is especially important; you don’t want to balk when approaching a media source. Building relationships is a cornerstone of PR; throwing wild pitches at media sources can have your brand sitting the benches (out of fan sight).
I noticed a ‘management tip of the day’ from the Harvard Business Review (Reuters synopsizes here), addressing how to communicate with colleagues. The points provided echo some of Chris’ regarding contacting media sources:
The Business Review suggests quickly getting to the point. Media sources embrace concise brevity; it’s likely yours is not their only email of the day to get through. I like Chris’ suggestion related to personalizing an email, referencing a source’s body of work; it frames the impetus for contact.
- Next, is this solicited or unsolicited, meaning is a media source actively searching for related news or is your brand being opportunistic? If the media source is actively looking, help them expedite. Give them all necessary information in your initial email.
- Also, who sent the email, the industry expert (PR client) or third party (PR service)? Media sources prefer direct contact with industry experts. Be direct. Be concise. Help them save time however you can.
Why the Contact?
This is huge. Every brand wants exposure but not every brand has something of value to add. It could be a matter of timing or it could be a matter of poor quality. Patience can help you with the former. You need to do a lot more than read this information if your brand is in the latter group.
The Business Review asks, “What prompted you to deliver it (the message)?” If you’re pre-skull/crossbones specs Vaughn, you’re throwing wild pitches, hoping to get attention in any way. If you’re throwing strikes, you’re pitching like the reformed ‘Wild Thing,’ seeing things more clearly.
It’s about adding to the conversation. Here are some of my observations (in comment section) regarding Chris’ post:
Be direct and confident, knowing you have something to offer. The number-one tip I would direct a client’s attention to is “know what you’re talking about.” Obviously, the sentiment is subjective and you may have some viewers on the other side of the fence, but a reporter, editor, blogger, reader, can instantly understand whether contributing or exposure is your primary concern. I understand the endgoal of PR is exposure but it’s important to shop for windows of opportunity. Being selective and shopping for quality and the proper fit is essential; but, (very often) clients expect/want results yet must accept ongoing PR is more of a ‘quiet storm’ which strikes when most befitting.
There’s a wild and guile way to pitch to media sources. What brand of game is in your PR bullpen? Finding your PR strike zone is crucial; it could mean the difference between winning and losing.
Do you have something to add to the conversation, or just calling attention? I would address high school students in this manner who were temporarily ‘off task’ during class. High school students are socially savvy; most got the point and understood the difference elucidated by my question; were they serving the good of the community or engaging in personal endeavors at the moment?
Does your brand have something to add to the ‘conversation’ or just desiring attention and exposure? The latter sentiment is shared by all brands (what brand does not want attention?!), yet the former sentiment is really the most effective means to the latter’s end. I read a good post today on bootstrapping and brand awareness. The author addresses ways to formulate an effective PR campaign.
Increasing PR is a lot like search engine optimization efforts. It takes time, effort, and methodology. While many of us know how a brand can get into trouble on the Web in its quest for better SE rankings, there are no direct ‘PR Panda’ updates; however, calling attention without ‘adding’ is likely to leave your brand bewildered, inert, and possibly ‘blackballed’ by reporters, amongst other violations.
Update your in-house PR sentiments with these ‘PR Panda’ updates:
Update 1 – General PR Campaign – PR or Link Building?
In modern times, public relation work is a lot like link building. In the past, what were the main goals of PR efforts?
- Spread brand-related info
- Gain consumer attention
- Build brand authority
- Attract future interest
Link building efforts, complemented by modern-day social media engagement does all of the above. Many of the same ‘do not’ and ‘best-practice’ sentiments of link building apply to PR efforts. Before making a PR move, think about your brand’s intentions because ulterior motives are transparent and don’t make much traction.
Update 2 – Press Releases – Is.It.News.?
This is a bitter pill for many press-release hopefuls to swallow; is the release sharing ‘worthy’ news? Of course, ‘worthy’ is a relative term, but think outside your brand when asking yourself this question; think like a consumer; would you be intrigued by the news? Unfortunately, this ‘PR Panda’ update is not going to be applied by news sources; it’s going to be applied by readers (consumers) and your release’s traction (or lack thereof).
There aren’t many obstacles obstructing a brand from orchestrating and distributing a press release to the masses; however, dispersing a release, offering very little news of value, is deserved of ‘PR Panda’ penalty and may hurt your brand’s reputation or future efforts to call attention to ‘news.’
Update 3 – Reporters – What are you doing for them?
Do you want to contact a reporter about your brand? Ask not what this reporter can do for you, but… I know – the irony of it all! That’s right; if you’re going to contact a reporter, you should be contacting them because you have something for them and not vice versa. Sure, contributing to a story or adding insight is likely to get your brand mentioned; you’ll get credit for your work.
Are you just looking to arrive at the PR party with nothing in your brand’s hands? You’re likely to put the kibosh on any future relations with the respective reporter (and likely their brand too).
Media outreach and the use of Public Relations is an extremely effective way for companies to increase their visibility in the market, boost website traffic, increase sales leads, and ultimately, generate more revenue. Public Relations are much more cost effective than outdated marketing tactics, for example, mass media television advertisement, newspaper advertisement, and so on.
Public Relations play a vital role in marketing your brand, especially in an ever-changing market and competitive landscape. Not only does WebiMax have a reputable relationship with many major media outlets that frequently cover us, we’ll help your company become a valuable resource too. Reporters and editors are constantly looking for reliable sources to discuss current and future topics.
Consider this: David Meerman Scott, a marketing strategist, conducted a study in 2010 that found “Stock prices reveals that on average, publicly traded Fortune 100 companies that engaged in real-time communications and public relations beat the S&P 500 stock index.” He further concludes that “the stock prices of more than half of the companies that engage in real time public relations campaigns (67%) were up during an 8-month period”.
Whether you want us to write press releases for your company, capitalize on writing opportunities and submit articles to major news outlets on your behalf, or build a public relations campaign that can interlink with a search engine optimization (seo) campaign, WebiMax, is the answer.
We have the technical know-how and the professional relationships to increasing the online visibility of your company in the media.