Many people still believe that a Public Relations strategy consists of putting out a press release and trying to schedule interviews. When will they learn? PR is a critical component of a company’s overall strategic communications plan. Once the story and positioning is aligned internally, it’s time to communicate this externally to stakeholders, partners, clients, and customers. If you get the communications piece wrong, you might as well start shopping for a new domain.
At its core, Public Relations involves a series of tactics to communicate your brand message: who you are, what you do, and why it matters. Below are 5 points to consider when developing a strategic communications plan:
- PR is a science – There are rules for successful business writing. There are even more for press releases, company and product announcements, and editorial pieces. Leave the headline creation and copy format to professionals that understand how news is picked-up and consumed by distribution outlets as well as your audience. Headlines account for 90% of total message interaction. A teaser headline without substance will result in minimal reads and a wasted opportunity to share potential lead-generating news.
- PR is all about timing – There are many definitions of the term newsworthy. Let me share mine: would people outside your family, friends, and colleagues find it interesting? If you’re not sure, then you have your answer. Wait until you have something to share that people genuinely care about. Share of mind is a tough thing to get these days – in order to earn it, your information must be worthy of the attention. There are certain weekdays and times proven to generate higher engagement rates. These vary by industry and audience, and not using them to your advantage would be a disservice to your objective.
- Delivery is as important (almost) as your product – everything communicates, everything. Your brand voice must be consistent on your website, throughout email campaigns, social media, blogs, advertising and print media. This holds especially true for communicating with press contacts, writers and key influencers. PR experts understand the audience, and the need to communicate with simplicity, clarity and alignment in every message.
- PR is relationship driven – Let’s face it, business is high school with money. PR is no different. Interviews, editorials, and exclusive coverage are primarily done because a trust factor has already been established between the writer/editor of a publication and the PR firm. The content has been qualified as something the audience wants to engage in reading and sharing. If you don’t have the relationships, start building them through networking and events.
- The saying: “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” is simply not true – Reputation management has become a critical practice area as of late, due to the availability of online platforms for sharing news and opinions. Everyone has always been a critic, and now they have a megaphone. From customer service incidents on airplanes to horrific fast food employees, brands that interact with people (let’s just say all brands) must have protocols in place to communicate news, good or bad, through a well thought-out PR plan.
It’s not enough to share your story; you must ensure that it’s retold in the same narrative by others. Traditional PR agencies that are tactically focused on “smiling and dialing” to get placements may no longer be the best choice. Strategic PR requires a strategic marketing firm that recognizes that PR is a powerful weapon that must be integrated and aligned with your overall go-to-market strategy to drive business outcomes in order to stay #TopRight.