Public relations (PR) strategy is critical to any company’s overall communications plan, but unfortunately many still don’t have a strong grasp of basic PR fundamentals. It’s often assumed that once a story and positioning is aligned internally, it’s time to communicate externally to stakeholders, partners, clients, and customers. But if you get just one basic communications piece wrong, you’re going to find yourself frustrated by the outcomes no matter how well aligned they may be.
At its core, PR involves a series of tactics to communicate your brand message: your why, what, and how. It’s a distilled, high-octane version of your brand story delivered to the broader public. Below are the five main pieces to consider when developing a strategic PR plan.
What Is PR?
Professionalism and Format
PR is all about the medium through which you are communicating. There are specific rules for successful business writing, for live interviews, as well as for press releases, company and product announcements, and editorial pieces. Leave the headline creation and copy format to professionals who 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.
Strategy and Content
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 people’s 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 is a disservice to your objective.
Clarity and Consistency
Everything communicates. 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. If your message lacks clarity or is not aligned with your brand story, you’re not just failing at PR but you’re essentially being counterproductive.
Like Hollywood, the public relations world is much like high school. 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 as soon as you can.
The availability of online platforms for sharing news and opinions has turned everyone into 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. In the end, PR strategy is about maintaining a good reputation in a world full digital scrutinizers who shoe less and less mercy.
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 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.
Thanks for reading. Jon our blog! If you have any questions about writing your own six second story, feel free to reach out to me or TopRight anytime. Then follow me on Twitter or say hello on LinkedIn.