I’m an ‘armchair PR quarterback.’ I have experience in the field, but currently reside in PR hibernation, focusing professional attention on writing and internal marketing. However, my former professional sentiments can’t help but fuel my interest and inner passion. I regularly trace the PR operations of brands, shouting at the computer screen like an aged, high school quarterback who lends his voice to the television screen while assuming the Lazy-Boy position. “C’mon how could you make that PR play!”
Today I offer a few sentiments I would like to see better implemented into your public relations strategy.
Outsourcing is a choice for some and an absolute, immediate necessity for others. However, I suggest considering going with a boutique supplier of PR services. For one, there’s a learning curve associated with your respective vertical. A PR person really needs to know the ‘lay of the land’ to ensure effective campaigns. Don’t assume bigger brands, which address PR in several verticals, are going to assign you with a person well familiar with your vertical; it’s highly unlikely this ‘perfect match’ will fall into place.
However, the learning curve drastically decreases when partnering with a boutique service provider, which specializes in your particular niche. An immediate advantage is the list of apropos contacts and relations the boutique may have already established. Let’s face it; you’re electing to outsource due to a lack of internal resources, you want the outsourced entity to act as an ‘internal teammate’ as much as possible. You don’t have time to educate the person on your vertical; you expect momentum. Siding with a boutique service can expedite the process.
Products/Services Shouldn’t Need Attention, Consumers’ Needs Do
I take notice of brands after the production phase. It would likely be disappointing for some owners to hear my questions as to why some products/services made it past the production phase. In short, there are a lot of products/services out there of poor quality. PR won’t help as SEO can’t compensate for poor quality…
That being said, a PR professional should not have to do any work for the products/services. In short, products/services should ‘sell’ themselves; or, your company has many issues to address other than PR. I see a lot of PR efforts mirroring the error in logic of a lot of ad copy. Make the endeavor about the consumer and not about your services and products.
I’m sure some are confused; isn’t PR about my business? Yes, but PR is public relations, meaning the process involves relating (your brand and associations) to…the public. The public part is important. I don’t care what marketing processes are being leveraged; marketing is always about engaging the consumer. So, even if you’re involved in a product launch, the approach necessitates people-centric engineering. It’s not about how awesome the product is; it’s about what an awesome job the product does in addressing a consumer need and desire. I hope you understand; because, this is a crucial insight to ‘get.’
Service Person Neglect
As a copywriter, I sometimes felt neglected by clients. It was my job to create something based on little to no initial information. Many times, clients neglect to inform service providers, which is mind blowing. If I wanted another entity to do ANYTHING in my business’ name, I would most definitely ensure my provider was on the ‘same page.‘ That would a huge part of my responsibility regarding the partnership. Business owners, do you host the same concerns? I really hope you do.
Again the PR person is the translator, like a ghost-writer. It’s absolutely essential the PR person is using your words and sentiments, truly understands your brand and direction, and sees eye to eye with the executives and brand represented. PR is very important; whose mind are you letting make maneuvers for your company? It’s essential the public relations rep understands key execs and the essence of the brand. Otherwise, there’s no way an outside entity can properly represent your brand to your public. If there’s a lack of understanding, it’s in the best interest of your brand to address it. Any gaps or misunderstandings can be avoided through proper lines of communications. Never neglect communications with an outsourced provider. Each passing, neglectful moment negatively affects your brand.
PR and Social Media
Public relations probably needs a new definition or at least new consideration within the backdrop of online marketing evolutions. Yesterday we had PR; today we have social media, which can achieve a lot of the initiatives PR always has. PR is not extinct; but, such processes should include social media usage. I’m sure many PR providers are presently not social media providers too, making things complicated for service seekers. In my opinion, the two worlds need integration.
If you’re outsourcing PR but doing social media in-house, you need integration. If you’re doing PR and social media in-house, the processes need integration. If you’re doing PR in-house and outsourcing social media…well, you get it.
Formulate a strategy, leveraging the two processes, especially if different people are addressing them. Strategy enables more reach and efficiency on both fronts. You need the two marketing initiatives working together. For instance, your PR professional landed your company in a major publication. How are you going to perpetuate the exposure? Social media is a good choice. It’s not about choosing some processes over others; online marketing is about using available tools strategically, ensuring all brand endeavors are working in harmony. It all warrants a bit of quarterbacking…zero quarterbacking begets frustrations. I don’t want to be jeering your PR decisions from my computer screen; I want to be cheering them. The ball’s in your hands.
“Godfather, be my friend,” a man pleads as he kisses Don Vito’s hand. The former was really asking of a favor. The Godfather knew. It’s VERY LIKELY those on your ‘let’s be pals’ radar know your immediate intentions too. It’s okay; be aware of their awareness and proceed…naturally.
I’ve been pretty successful in making friends throughout my life. I’m actually pretty cool; but, that’s for me to know and others to notice. In social life, I can be a bit lax, allowing things to happen at a gradual pace. I’m a tough sell. I’m not going to ‘be down’ with just anyone. In my professional life, things are a bit different, warranting a mixture of friendly and professional sentiments; but, I’m very similar to other professionals in that regard too. I’m not going to be ‘cool’ with just anyone. If I did want to begin a relationship, I would go about it in the following manner.
The Elephant in the Room
Have you ever engaged someone in conversation, knowing there is an ulterior motive for the union, yet it goes ‘unpublished’ in conversation. It makes for an awkward guessing game of what the other person is thinking. Be honest whenever approaching or PR pitching another professional. Would you like their help? Would you like them to read your blog? Would you like to be considered as a source in an article? All of these ‘selfish’ desires are acceptable; however, don’t ‘beat around the bush.’ Just be direct. Being direct doesn’t guarantee a disarming welcome; but, it does let the other person know you’re a straight shooter, honest, and not wasting their time.
Some time ago, I wanted to guest post on Mike King’s blog. I hit him up in an email; and, though may have been a bit complimentary in the opening, I was succinct in my intentions. I wanted a social media post on ipullrank’s blog; however, it was important to offer something to Mike’s readers too. Why else would he accept if I wasn’t creating some sort of value? Mike posted on the wrong and right way to ask for a guest post.
My mom thinks I’m special; that goes along with the job. I know. Do others? Perhaps, but it’s because I earned their respect. I did; I inspired; I worked; I expressed; I did a number of things to openly demonstrate (out in the practical, wide-open world) I can offer some sort of value. Think of other professionals as active musicians. By adding your presence, does their professional world become more harmonious? If not, they’re likely to want you to ‘sit this number out.’ Maybe you can try-out again when you have something of value to offer.
Value is subjective; but, the need to offer ‘something’ is an objective reality. What can you offer?
- Humor (maybe you make them laugh with your take on the industry)
- Research (maybe you’ve crunched a lot of data, elucidating a new trend or previously unseen ‘truth’)
- Exposure (maybe you have a high number of followers and can introduce a personality to a new pool of subscribers and vice versa)
- Guidance (perhaps you have experience in a particular area and can offer insight)
Think about what you can add. It’s a delicate dance of give and take. If you’re not offering anything valuable, there’s no reason for professionals to jump at the chance to ‘make friends.’ Many will question why you thought a union with them was apropos in the first place. Have you researched?
I recently read a great explanation of why doing your homework in a respective vertical is important. You see, it’s not about ‘just getting exposure.’ It’s about finding the right fit; it’s about making the right kind of relationships. I’m a writer. Is making a contact with NASA the right fit though NASA is an incredibly respected entity? Unless NASA wants me to help them with content marketing, the relationship is ill fitting. I’d be better off finding better niches, befitting to my networking wishes.
Check out Chris Dyson’s post on chasing footprints for linkbuilding. Knowing the right paths to venture is crucial. Next, don’t forget to familiarize yourself with the personality of interest. That’s how you would normally go about making relations and conversation, right? Consider the alternative:
If you are going to pitch me, at least check out my freakin’ site first. Otherwise, I just hit the “delete” button. Sheesh!
You’ve heard of link building, the reason why many people approach others for immediate connections. Awesome, you’ve made a connection and got a valuable link. The link is good in and out itself; but, I liken the process as getting the opportunity to shake the Dali Lama’s hand but not engaging him in conversation.
The reason it’s so important to research relations above, is because like online marketing, relations take time to build momentum and strength. What’s better, getting one guest post link or cultivating a relationship, resulting in future guest spots, insight and guidance, introduction to other ‘doors’ of opportunity and personalities, etc? Lightning storms are pretty and exciting; but, the excitement is short-lived. I’d rather invest in my time in building lasting weather patterns.
Pro tip: PR (I think of it as peer relations) is not for everyone. Are you stuck in a connection rut? Do you wonder why you and yours are shunned by others? Something is off; you’re doing something wrong.
Do you see relationships merely as a means to an end? If so, PR is not for you. You don’t ‘get it.’ No matter how much work you put in, you’re likely missing an integral piece of the puzzle. PR is a practice for the genuine and forthright. You can roll your eyes all you want at these sentiments. Go ahead and try to prove me wrong. The following video is for those interested in building real relations with peers. All others need not apply.
Which camp does your approach fall under? I can tell (I’m just nice about openly id-ing the former group.) Don’t be foolish. Others, who are PR savvy, can ‘see’ your approach too.
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.
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).
I read an entertaining article this morning regarding public relations work. A PR professional listed thirteen ominous mentions, which sound cacophonic bells and whistles off within a service provider’s head. Is your business currently receiving public relations services or working with an in-house professional? Are you resounding some of the same sentiments mentioned in the article? Is your campaign a bleak, dramatic picture of what it’s supposed to be, leaving participants in a state of mystery? Let’s explore some things mentioned in the article and better your understanding of what is and isn’t under a PR pros control.
Some things may be beyond your PR professional’s control. While the end goal clearly spells ‘more exposure,’ it is necessary to understand your public relations pro is a part of a larger system and must adhere to regulations and the whims of reporters and editors.
“Can you find what the reporter will ask before the interview?”
“Can I do the interview over email?”
“Why weren’t we in this story?”
The above are some things mentioned in the article by disappointed clients. Often the PR pro must defer to the ultimate decisions of reporters and editors. Sometimes reporters may tell your public relations professional one thing, yet an editor makes another executive decision (bumps a story) and unfortunately, your business’ exposure suffers for it…
It actually happened to one of our brands a few years ago. Our CEO, Ken Wisnefski, was set to do an interview on Hardball with Chris Matthews. We were all very excited for this opportunity for great exposure. But wait! Who decides to drive his way into the headlines like a free-roaming bronco? None other than OJ Simpson! Unfortunately, Ken’s chances to be interviewed were ‘taken’ by a pressing story and executive decisions, which were out of our control.
You’re an Asset
Last Friday, I wrote about a few SEO-related things a business owner should ‘know.’ It’s important to understand, while a service provider is doing a bulk of the work, your input is needed and considered an asset. PR work is sometimes very contingent on sensitivity of time and the participation of business consumers.
“I need this to be done in an hour.”
“We need this to be viral.”
“We’ve decided to go in a different direction.”
“I want this news embargoed.” [when it's not news]
Those are a few things mentioned in the PR professional’s article, related to the ongoing participation of the client. Understand public relations providers must have enough time to successfully pitch stories and position your brand to garner great exposure. In many cases, going viral is contingent on other factors besides a penned press release and major news source distribution. The story’s content, industry ‘influencers,’ and the timing of the release also play a major role in the public’s reception. Ensure you are giving your public relations professionals all the necessary tools, allowing them to recruit exposure for your brand.
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.