Monday, September 06, 2010

10 Key Elements of Effective Public Relations Campaigns and Bonus Download

This slide illustrates the various channels you can use to distribute your story.
Over the weekend, I was catching up with a few webinars I had missed over the summer, and I wanted to share a good one that had taken place in June, from the folks at Constant Contact. I'm a Constant Contact Business Partner, so from time to time I get exclusive content from them that I enjoy sharing on social media, in my e-newsletter, The Butterfly, and here on my blog.

Have you been wanting to get started with a public relations campaign, but not known how? Do you know what to expect from public relations, and what are some important factors integral to your campaigns? Here are 10 important tips to help you get started--note that some are from the June webinar, and some are from my own experience. I've also uploaded the PDF file here, so you can access the slides. If you need more help, I love to coach businesses on how they can get more exposure for their brand and activities, and I specialize in media placements, and print and online press releases and press packets.

1. Know Your Audience:
You've probably heard this before, but with any kind of content creation, I can't stress enough how important it is to know the audience you are writing for. A good freelance writer and content producer will ask their client at least several questions about their audience before even beginning a copywriting project, otherwise, it's like trying to navigate a sailboat in the dark. You will end up all over the place, which basically means nowhere. Knowing your audience not only means their demographic, but what they read, what kind of jobs they have, how they spend their leisure time, what events they enjoy, and what kind of information they share with others.

2. Find Your Company or Organization's Story and Tell It Well:
Every company, entrepreneur, and organization, has their own unique story to tell. Every member of the company is a stakeholder in that story and should be familiar with it, because every employee is a marketer is some way. How did you get to be where you are today? What obstacles do you face? Where do you stand in terms of your competitors, and what are you future goals? Practice telling your story succinctly and dynamically, as this is the basis for all your other company stories to come.

3. Choose the Right Tools to Tell Your Story:
The press release is the standard vehicle for communicating your news, but don't forget about the many choices there are in new media today: social media, article marketing, videos, podcasts, newspapers, photos, blogtalkradio, events, and others. Not every tool is right for every situation, and sometimes a particular mix is just what you need. I know from my latest research, that combining video with traditional press releases has proven highly successful in improving event awareness and open rates.

4. Follow the "3 C's" in Your Campaigns: Be Compelling, Consistent, and Credible:
Compelling: Tell your story or news event in an interesting way. This can be through effective storytelling, as well as sharing startling statistics or commonly held myths about a topic. It's good to shake people up, in a good way.

5. Consistency in Your Communications:
Eatablish a regular press release schedule and stick to it. Once a month is a good level of frequency to keep in touch with writers, reporters, editors, and bloggers. Be careful not to promote too often, as you will tire out your audience and not have their interest at the critical point where you really need it. If you undercommunicate, you risk the likelihood of your audience forgetting who you are.

6. Establish Ongoing Credibility:
Be up front about your accomplishments and news. If you recently launched a book that was one of the top 50 in the country, don't promote it as #1.  If your organization is in a turnaround phase and recovering from grim statistics, you can include the numbers, but focus on what you are doing to turn things around. If you are a solo entrepreneur, relate how you made a mistake, but also how you fixed it. A blog post I read recently did that very thing. The blogger highlighted a reader who was upset with the blogging coach and wanted their money back from a program he had invested in. The blogger called the client, and as it turned out, he really liked the coaching but didn't have the time to do it, and the entire experience was a misunderstanding. The blogger ended up looking great, as he did the right thing: he took the initiative, called the client, and was even told directly that his services were beneficial.

7. Writer and Format Your Press Release Correctly:

Important elements of the press release
There are certain common groundrules for press release writing, and one of the most basic is that you follow the rule of the inverted pyramid. Include the most important information in the beginning, with more incidental details in the last paragraph or two. This is done because busy editors cannot always fit your whole story in even if they wanted to, and in this way, they can cut from the bottom easily and the rest of the story is intact.  The slide to the left highlights key elements of the release, including who the contact person is, how the story is relevant to the person you are pitching, links to important related media, and avoiding common stale language, such as "we are happy to announce....etc."

8. Create and Continually Update Your Media List:

You may be working from an existing list, or creating a new one. In any case, it's important that the list be up-to-date and accurate, and include specific names and titles whenever possible. This is also a good place to be creative, and you may need to spend some time doing online research, particularly if you are looking to add influencial bloggers to your list. If you find a blogger you like and want to add them to your list, and invite them to your events and news, contact them individually by name, either via phone or e-mail. Let them know you are familiar with their blog and that you understand what kind of events they would cover. As a  blogger who has been approached by the media, it makes a huge difference to me if I feel like I am just a name someone came across, or if they have read my blog and really understand what I'm writing about.

9. Personal and Professional Follow-Up:

Many marketers make the mistake of posting press releases and then not doing anything with them. It's the same problem as setting up a beautiful website that  no one sees, or a wonderful event that no one attends. Without consistent and effective follow-up, your news or event will not be picked up, and there will have been no point in even writing the release! Get over to your media list, and after 1-2 rounds of e-mails, call your contact directly on the phone. If you do not get a live person, leave a brief and clear message including your name, the date, the event you are promoting, and referencing when you sent your release and politely requesting coverage and/or a call or e-mail back to go over any questions. If you do hear back from the writer or media contact, be sure and thank them for their interest and answer any questions they have briefly and promptly. If you do not hear back after several attempts, move on, and do not continue to contact that person. If possible, try to find out why you might not have heard back -- otherwise, your time is better spent moving on to other prospects.

10. Make the Community Connection
, and Be Timely:
Many major news stories begin locally and grow from there. A great approach is to begin with your outreach with local media resources, including newspapers, televison stations, and radio. Try to tie your story in to a local issue, or even a national issue that has local relevance, such as green issues, health care, the economy, etc. There's a good chance that if your story is picked up in local media, it may also appear in a larger publication, or even nationally. Be sure and issue your press announcements well in advance as much as possible, so that you are giving enough lead time for launches, events, and programs.

I hope you enjoyed these 10 tips, and I'm sure there are at least 10 more! Let me know if I missed anything by posting in the comments here, and once again, here's that link for the Webinar PDF Downloads.  Good luck on your next press campaign!



2 comments:

W.E.B. DuBois CDC said...

Found this to be full of insight! Thank you for posting.

virtuisgeneration.blogspot.com

caroline jaffe-pickett said...

Glad you enjoyed it, have a great day!