If there is anything executives want more than customers, it’s publicity. That's why every public relations team needs a solid public relations strategy and tactics that align with the customer journey. During this article, we'll show you 6 proven examples of how to leverage your PR outreach to increase brand awareness and improve your reputation.
Nowadays, public relation teams usually have a set of publications they want to receive coverage in, but here’s the catch: a single media mention isn’t going to have as big of an effect on your PR as you might think. Sure, some people might visit your site off the back of seeing the PR hit, some might even remember your brand name, but this effect will wane, fast.
In the long run, building a PR strategy and focusing on tactics that are centred on chasing media mentions is probably one of the least effective public relations means for small and medium-sized companies. If you’re wondering what your public relations team should do instead, keep on reading our 6 strategies that will help you increase brand awareness beyond press releases.
Strategy 1: Leverage connections with industry influencers
Influencer marketing is a big thing among marketers these days - and rightly so. Customers are more likely to trust a new company if it was recommended by someone they know and respect. Thankfully, it's not just the marketing teams focusing on influencers, public relations teams are noticing the impact.
It's no surprise that influencer marketing tops the list of the most cost-effective customer acquisition channels, especially when its used in combination with social media. According to Tomoson, businesses are making up to $20 per each dollar spent on influencer marketing and 51% of companies admit to seeing better results from influencer marketing than other channels, including public relations.
And here lies your first PR opportunity: aligning yourself with influencers your audience follows and admirers. This is a surefire way to get your company noticed and improve the ROI of your communication plan.
We use this strategy all the time here at SEMrush. We connect and slowly develop deep relationships with influential figures and this later results in coverage and promotion we could have never dreamt of from only using PR. Our word of advice here? Instead of trying to get an influencer to take part in a major promotional campaign, start off with a smaller project.
Strategy 2: Promote your company at important industry events
Industry events are an amazing opportunity to learn something new, keep up with new trends, and get inspired by leading figures. But they also offer a chance to promote your company and boost PR.
Events give you a chance to meet your audience, users, and influencers in person, build connections, and develop relationships you could take advantage of from a PR perpective in the future.
Here are 5 tips how to use events for public relations:
- Always create an attendee profile, if an event’s organisers offer that option.
- Pick a couple of presentations that relate to your product or brand, research their topics, and prepare questions you could ask during a Q&A session. This will help get you noticed by the influencers and allow you to connect with them later on in the lobby.
- Schedule meetings with interesting people prior to the event. Reach out to them and ask for a couple of minutes of their time. Give a reason for a meeting that will be beneficial for them as well and you should have no problems with booking some meetings.
- Interview people. Many industry leaders will be happy to elaborate on the topic of their speech and more than willing to do it if their advice will be later published online.
- And of course, speak at events. After all, nothing beats speaking as a publicity opportunity.
Bonus: if you don’t have the budget to attend big events (and let’s face, those can be costly), seek out online events you could speak at. These events often have more relaxed rules for whom they invite to participate. Oftentimes, you don’t need to be a big name to book yourself to speak at them.
Strategy 3: Leverage your blog
I’m sure you have heard every possible argument in favour of having a business blog already. You know it could help raise your authority, brand awareness, and generate leads. But there is another reason why you should leverage your company’s blog.
You see, a growing number of journalists review blogs on daily basis to find interesting stories, angles, data and stats. They scout the web, searching for new and up-to-date information to enrich their editorial stories. By publishing newsworthy content, you can turn your blog into a great pipeline directly into interested media outlets. In turn, your brand will be credited, therefore boosting PR ROI.
It's important that PR teams work closely with the marketing department to carefully plan and craft content based on a deep understanding of the target audience’s needs. One of the best tools you can utilise for successful content creation is Google Analytics. And don’t forget to distribute your content through all marketing channels rather than solely thinking of content with a PR hat on! You can read more about content distribution strategies in this article.
Strategy 4: Offer value to journalists
Try as you might, you can’t make a journalist cover your brand or product. Gone are the days of wining and dining journalists with PR in mind, in this ever-competitive world you need to provide them with so much value that they will be compelled to do so.
PR value could take the form of offering an expert opinion on industry trends, sharing personal experience, providing proprietary data, or even, converting it into an infographic, if they need visual content to enrich the piece.
Journalists are constantly in search for credible PR sources, and if you engage them with your response, they’ll most likely reference your company in return.
Strategy 5: Use crowdfunding platforms
When you think of Kickstarter or Indiegogo, you probably picture new product ideas entrepreneurs need help bring to the market. But crowdfunding social media sites could also help you gain publicity and improve journalist relations. How? By presenting your new product to thousands of potential customers. That’s what startups like Mailpilot or Roost did. They first launched their idea on Kickstarter and then used it to develop massive media coverage off the back of it.
Strategy 6: Submit guest posts to popular websites
I admit, guest posting is one of the oldest tricks in the PR handbook - but it works. And that’s partially because guest blogging is mutually beneficial for both the publication and the company. Here is an article on how to find guest blogging opportunities.
By syndicating your content or guest blogging, you get the opportunity to increase brand awareness while sharing some useful advice with people who potentially could become their users. The publication, on the other hand, gets quality content written from a new perspective, adding something new to their site.
That’s the reason why Entrepreneur.com, Harvard Business Review, Inc.com, Forbes, Fast Company and many others still accept authentic and engaging content from outside contributors. Review their submission guidelines and submit valuable content. In time, you will see your name appearing on the largest sites, building your authority and spreading information on your brand.
Strategy 7: Do Your Homework
Building PR strategy should start with research. In my previous post, 5 Ways to Turbocharge PR with Media Monitoring, we explored how monitoring tools enable brand, competitive and industry research – this is a great place to start.
“When developing a PR strategy, I use competitive insights to ensure my team doesn’t replicate a similar idea, creates unique messaging and finds specific audiences that aren’t currently being targeted,” adds Tanya Rynders, PR consultant. “Keeping up with media outlets that typically write about your brand or product will help you stay on top of current discussions and trends in real time.”
As you approach a new PR campaign use your monitoring tools to understand the micro and macro media landscape related to your pitch. On the macro level, monitoring tools will help you to understand your overall brand perception, your competition, industry and customer. On a micro level, you’ll want to use your tools to research press and social media discussions about products or services similar to those you’re pitching. You need to know everything possible about the media environment you’re entering before you pick up a phone or send a single email pitch.
Strategy 8: Clearly Define Your Campaign Goal
Too often we pitch for the sake of pitching; this is not strategic. Perhaps this is because our boss’ demanded “a press release each week” or perhaps we just tried to keep an active pace, but we all know it’s useless to pitch without a clearly defined goal. All PR campaigns need a clear goal and answering these questions will help you put one together without too much pain:
- Who is your ultimate customer?
- What message(s) do you want to deliver to that customer?
- What are you hoping to achieve?
With the answers to these questions you’ll be able to develop a clear, one sentence campaign goal, which will lead your messaging and outreach strategy. If you know why you’re pitching and what you are trying to achieve, the next steps to completing your PR strategy will be that much easier.
Strategy 9: Hone Pitch Messaging Based on Research
By now you’ve done your research in order to better understand your customer, competition and industry environment and you’ve set a clear goal. Those two steps set you up for shaping your message.
Using a combination of your research and goal begin writing pitch messaging that will feel newsworthy to your target journalists, resonate with your customer and match your business objectives.
Youngstrom sums up the correlation between research and messaging nicely; “At the end of the day, great insights provide opportunities to tell unique stories that resonate with target audiences.”
A well-crafted pitch should be concise and easily digestible. It should move your customer towards action and, as Youngstom points out, it should resonate. Once you have a first draft spend time trying to poke holes in it and share it with a colleague or two for feedback. If needed, edit, and edit some more. By using your research and being thoughtful you’ll move on to step four with solid pitch messaging.
Strategy 10: Identify and Understand Media Targets
With your pitch messaging completed its time to decide on a distribution channel and find the journalists that will help you to reach your customer.
Determining distribution is largely based on the messaging you’ve developed. The question you need to ask is whether your message is best suited for a broadcast approach (press release) or more personal approach (individual pitching). Does your message have mass appeal or will it get better pick up if you pitch to a more narrow, targeted list of journalists? For example, if you represent a tech firm announcing a merger with another firm you have a mass-appeal message in which case a press release may be best. If you are the same firm announcing an upgrade to a current product your message has a more narrow appeal in which case you should focus on select journalists and influencers.
You’ll want to build your media list based on the subjects journalists in your niche are already writing about. With the right tools it should take minutes to determine which journalists have covered your competition, industry and subject matter regardless of beat. Combine that list with journalists with whom you’ve built relationships and you’re ready to go!
And as a conclusion, I would like to share some practical advice. Track who is mentioning your brand using a media intelligence tool so you can build relationships with journalists that already know who you are. It's also wise for public relations teams to keep an eye on competitor’s PR activities so you can poach journalists who are interested in what you have to say too. Competitive intelligence can also help public relations teams achieve better ideas by learning about their successful content from industry peers and then utilise them (or something similar) for their own PR campaigns.
This article was written by Anna Lebedeva from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.