Are You Ready for Proactive PR?As the task list for PR pros gets longer and longer, sitting around waiting for journalists to respond to pitches is no longer an option. Going after the opportunities your brand wants is the best way to get the coverage you deserve. Here are ways to start a proactive PR plan.
PR is evolving, along with the rest of marketing. Gone are the days when public relations pros would blast out a press release to massive lists of journalists, hoping for a bite, just waiting for reporters to call them for comments on a story.
Successful PR practitioners no longer sit and wait for opportunities to come their way—or worse, allow a crisis to come along to highjack the public conversation about their brand.
Increasingly, our roles require proactive thinking about the best way to tell our stories.
Basics of Proactive PR Planning
When you’re in proactive PR mode, don’t neglect the basics. For instance, it’s a good idea to have a PR content calendar for the coming year that lays out all the opportunities you may have to tell your story proactively. Include things like product releases and updates, financial news, events like trade shows and so on. By looking ahead at the company’s calendar, you’ll be able to see what’s coming up so you can factor that into your PR planning.
Also, include seasonal events your brand may be able to capitalize on. For example, the end of the year marks a time when companies can write wrap-up articles or blog posts to place in industry publications. The same goes for pieces that look ahead to trends coming up in the new year.
Factor Trends into Your Approach
Can PR pros predict the future? Maybe not. But they can—and should—be anticipating the next big thing in their industry.
Proactive PR means you’re seeking out opportunities to actively promote your brand while aligning the message with business goals. Part of being proactive includes the ability to spot trends. To capitalize on a trend, the key is to get on board while the conversation is picking up steam. Wait too long, and your brand will be left behind while the trend takes off—without you.
Another way to stay on top of trends is to watch what’s happening beyond your industry. Looking at the bigger picture can help you keep a pulse on trends that may affect your business. Follow news from a variety of sources to help you stay up to speed.
A cautionary note: You may want to avoid negative trends or those that don’t align with your brand’s values. Don’t jump on a trend just for the sake of being trendy. Make sure it’s actually a fit.
Data Can Help Inform Your Proactive PR Efforts
Incorporating data when planning is always a good idea. If you’re looking at metrics to set future strategy, a platform like Meltwater can help you see the results of your efforts so you can use that information in the planning stages of upcoming campaigns. In addition, looking at data over time can be useful to help uncover patterns and trends that will help inform future efforts.
Building a case with the data also helps you lobby for more budget or sell your idea to move in a particular direction to your CMO or other executives. After all, the C-suite is much less likely to buy into your brilliant PR plan if isn’t based on some real numbers. With a data-driven audience, you can use the metrics to optimize your efforts and learn from the past what worked.
The Art and Science of Proactive PR
While it may sound like a lot of work, being a proactive PR pro can be more rewarding, because you’re helping to drive the conversation, versus reacting to things that fall into your lap.
And if you can master the basics and merge those with the art of trendspotting, then back it all up with data, all the better.
“I think there’s an art and a science to trendspotting,” Brandi Boatner, Digital Experience Manager, IBM. “I can’t say there’s a magic bullet formula or algorithm for how to identify trends, but you should be able to understand data sets and analyze the data to extract insights that you understand but can also act on in your daily work.”