PR campaigns can go off the rails without a capable conductor at the controls. In a time when driver-less cars are making headlines, we’ll use this tried-and-true train analogy to share some proven PR tips. This is how our content strategists keep PR campaigns on track, while quickly ramping up and reaching our clients’ media destinations with a bit of time and money to spare.
- Know who you’re talking to and give it time. Each pitch we write has to keep the reporter in mind. What’s going to make it easy for them to get the article idea or concept approved by their editor?
- Set measurable goals and a timetable for the campaign. Think about the quality and quantity of coverage that you are seeking. Establish quantitative measures that focus on the quality of the media/publications, their reach to your target audiences and the types of stories you are hoping to get covered.
- Make a media list. Keep a ‘living document’ of reporters who have the beat you want for when your clients are ready to go all out with a press push. Read, watch and listen to the publications you are pitching to get very familiar with the terrain. Enlist your crew to support you in this regular review.
- Analyze the popular routes. Which types of stories have received lots of social shares, pick-ups by other channels or have even won an award for the publication? What do they each have in common?
- Keep track of current events or trends that could lend renewed relevancy to your story. Add more context to your story when news breaks. Check reporter’s editorial calendars if they have them published. Recognize seasonal patterns and save time. Note what themes and topics have been covered in the past but not too recently that may relate to your pitch. Be able to demonstrate why the topic deserves new coverage. What’s the new element or focus point(s)?
- Watch so that you do not run the same route time and time again. Longtime PR practitioner Harold Burson reminded PRWeek that the constant “reinvention of the wheel that goes on in PR” can be a waste of time and energy. PR pros should instead focus on reviewing successfully-tested campaigns plus those that were failures.
- Subscribe to Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to see what requests journalists from across the country are making from sources like you (three times a day via email blasts at 5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m. and 5:35 p.m. Eastern Time Monday through Friday. HARO reminds us to look out for source requests relevant to you or your client’s industry or areas of expertise. You might have the perfect fit to meet their timeline and story needs. Respond quickly and succinctly to get their attention for your story. Follow the rules.
- Course correct and edit from your original or base pitch as needed. Send personal emails (not mass messages via Mailchimp) to the editors and reporters you are trying to reach. If you know the journalist, you can call 24+ hours after you send your email pitch. Always consider their schedule for publishing. Make sure that each PR pitch matches the tone of each publication, and works for their audience
- Headlights on your team. Pitch guest articles written by individuals at your company. Give the writers a chance to shine and share their voices, especially when you have a successful track record with the publication or journalist and have built trust.
- Set up a Google Alert, social media monitoring dashboard and/or media monitoring service to show you where your story, brand name and hashtags have been picked up. For example, you can use a combination of Talkwalker Alerts for its simplicity, and Mention as sometimes it will pick up what Google Alerts doesn’t. Find what works for you.
- Monitor your metrics and track key details including comments, social shares and likes. Maintain a tracking report that you can easily add to and refer back to for future PR campaigns. Also make a Google Doc of every publication you pitched to, the reporter’s name and the actual pitch itself. This goes back to noticing patterns. You’ll see why reporters will approve a pitch, and it will shorten your cycle to getting published.
- Identify brand evangelists and invite them on board to the VIP car. Recruit them and other top bloggers in the field you focus on to get the inside track about your product or service. Let them know the news first next time.
When you set measurable goals, do your research, stay on top of trends and news and tailor your pitches, you will be on the right track for getting that coveted fast-track media coverage.
When you do earned media right, it will shorten your sales cycle and get you the quality leads your business needs to grow.
Byline: Big thanks to Annie Liao Jones, Founder & CEO of Rock Candy Media for contributing her expertise on this guest post!