Spring Cleaning Your PR Strategy in 4 Steps

It has been a frigid start to the season for many of us weather-wise, but alas, spring is here. The rain that brings the flowers and trees is certainly here at least and the warm weather should be just around the corner.

Spring is also a time of decluttering and new beginnings. Making it the perfect time to refresh your PR strategy. After all, with the digital media landscape and the way people interact with the brands they do business with continuously evolving your strategy can’t afford to stay stodgy.

Here are four ways you can thaw out your strategy and ensure it’s helping you drive toward your bottom line business during every season.

Spruce Up Your Messaging

Your messaging is the foundation of everything you do when it comes to PR and marketing. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure that it’s up to date and articulating your companies value and differentiation in a way that drives action.

Always remember you are selling a solution, not a product or service. Therefore you need to make sure your message is relevant to the people you are solving problems for. One solid way to make sure you’re messaging isn’t missing the mark is to create accurate buyer personas. By looking at the people who are already buying from you, and identifying pain points and customer goals, you can begin to craft messaging that speaks to real people and doesn’t just echo your own assumptions about your audience.

When creating an enticing message, authenticity is key. Audiences are quick to sniff out messages that are inauthentic and can clearly spot companies that don’t align with their own beliefs. If you’re a smaller brand competing for a share of voice against much larger incumbents, developing messaging that focuses on your mission rather than the market can add a lot of volume to your voice.

According to Nielson, 55% of consumers across the globe will pay more for goods that come from socially responsible companies. And as we’ve seen from Gen Z, today’s generations have a penchant for standing up for causes they believe in and will support them with not only their voices, but with their wallets as well.

Polish Your Goals

Spring cleaning is also a great excuse to revisit your goals. As PR professionals, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be dreaded. However, KPIs can validate your strategy, provide justification for executives as to why PR has a very relevant place in your overall marketing stack, and become, well, your best friend. And while they will surely vary, there are a few high-level KPIs that are worth tracking for any PR program. These include things like reach, the share of voice, and social media engagement.

When it comes to justifying your PR spend, nothing is more powerful than showing how your activities feed into your organization’s overall marketing and sales goals. PR professionals can demonstrate this by looking beyond the obvious metrics and illustrating things like how campaigns are driving leads and fueling sales cycles.

This will offer tangible evidence to how PR is actually impacting the growth of the company. With 60% of CMOs reporting that they are not very confident in their team’s ability to determine the most effective way to allocate their marketing budget, finding ways to prove the value of your PR programs will ensure you don’t take a back seat to other areas, or get cut from the budget altogether.

Dust Off Your Media Contacts

Chances are that your media list could also use a spring refresh. Often times, people think this starts with reflecting on the value that your contacts can provide you. But this is misguided. Instead, ask yourself what kind of value you are providing your contacts. Are you giving them information and stories that help them do their jobs better and easier?

To spice up your media list, look beyond the obvious top tier or mainstream contacts. Aside from the fact that the media is continuing to shrink, the way people get their news is changing as well. Social media has become the main source of news online with more than 2.4 billion internet users, nearly 64.5 percent receive breaking news from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram instead of traditional media.

In this social obsessed world, it’s just as critical to build relationships with social influencers as it is with traditional media contacts. While going for the reach and prestige of the New York Times may seem like the obvious choice, at the end of the day your objective is to get your stories in front of people who will engage with them. Overlooking a niche blog that has aggregated a fiercely loyal following around a topic that is relevant to your business can be a missed opportunity.

Similarly, don’t overlook the trades! Often times the bigger, more influential publications get inspiration from trade publications.

Brighten Up Your Pitches

No matter how good you are at your job, your pitching style probably needs a tune-up. Over half of reporters receive up to 25 pitches a day and PR pros currently outnumber journalists six-to-one.

As the media landscape continues to shrink and reporters are bombarded by pitches at an enormous rate, there are several things you should be doing to ensure your pitch doesn’t go straight to trash.

First, try following this simple formula when writing pitches:

A good pitch = a peg + an angle + supporting data + your competitive differentiator.

Your peg will be whatever makes your story newsworthy and relevant. Maybe your announcement surrounds a conversation or event happening in your industry, or it involves a broader social or cultural trend. A good peg gives you a relevant foot in the door.

Your peg shouldn’t be confused with your angle, which is how you convince reporters that your story is worth their time and energy. Angles can be tricky to pinpoint because reporters have likely seen it all already. When developing your angle, look at what’s been covered before. Find a way to add to the current narrative, or better yet take a compelling counter position that adds something brand new to the conversation.

Also, don’t forget data. Reporters love data! Why? While a journalist’s ultimate goal is to provide their readers with information that interests them and provides value, they’re also constantly engaged in the war for clicks with other media outlets. Few things get more clicks (outside of cat videos of course) than exclusive looks at data that others may not have access to.

Public relations is an ever-evolving discipline. It’s also one that is often mischaracterized as a relationship driven, transactional process, where one simply sends an email to a reporter they have worked with before and a story magically appears. This couldn’t be further from the truth. PR is hard and it takes a solid strategy to see results. So give your strategy a good dusting and ensure you’re planting the seeds necessary for your campaigns to flourish.

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