A career in public relations requires three key attributes: resiliency, creativity, and grit to land a story in the right place at the right time. For example, let’s say you go to pitch a story – you send your email or pick up the phone and…perhaps the reporter is harsh about your angle, or your story is of interest but gets passed by for emergent news, or, maybe worst of all, your pitch gets a flat out “no.” *Sigh*
A good motto to live by for PR professionals? Never get too discouraged – PR is a fickle practice that’s dependent on timing and a solid strategy. Whether you work in public relations for an agency or in-house for a company, you’re bound to run into these two issues somewhere down the line:
- How do I pitch this story to the media if the hook just isn’t there?
- Or how do I make an older story my client wants me to share, well…new?
So, how do we overcome these issues at Ethos? We create an ongoing public relations strategy that works to meet our client’s goals.
Creating this type of strategy requires building a living, breathing, collaborative relationship with our client(s) that relies on trust, consistency, and ongoing communication. We’re sharing five tips that will help guide how we support our client’s PR needs with a strong strategy at the backbone. Let’s dive in.
1. Ask What the Client’s PR Goals Are from the Start
It may sound like an obvious place to begin, but getting on the same page about what a client’s goals are with PR efforts is an important step in crafting a good, strong strategy. Some questions to ask your client when you start diving deeper into their goals are:
- What do you want to achieve with your PR strategy?
- What does PR success look like to you?
- Would you be open to exploring non-traditional PR strategies (e.g., influencer marketing, e-newsletters, white papers, blogging, speaking engagements, etc.)?
- How much are you willing to invest in your PR strategy on a monthly basis?
By asking these questions, not only will you get them thinking about how they play a vital role in the success of their own PR strategy execution (because, hint, it’s not all on you to make it work), but you’ll also be able to get on the same page about what success means and looks like for both parties.
2. Map Out an Ongoing (Living, Breathing) PR Content Calendar
Once you have the general goals in place, and assuming that you have an established working relationship with your client, you can start to map out a general PR content calendar that is living, breathing, and adapting as opportunities arise. You content calendar should include:
- Topics you want to cover and notes about that topic
- Potential spokespeople
- Potential tactics (e.g., organic media pitch, influencer partnership, swag send, etc.)
- Who is responsible for getting that story off the ground
- Target audience and publications, if applicable
- Hits or results that come from your PR efforts (showing ROI)
Once you have this content calendar in a good place, it makes it easy to track progress and ensure everyone is on the same page about next steps. It also leaves room for conversation about strategy if something isn’t working. At our agency, we rely on Google Docs because you can edit things in real time for both parties to witness at once. Use what works best for you, but make sure the tool you’re utilizing for your PR content calendar serves your needs.
3. Meet with Employees at the Company to Learn Every Angle of the Business
To help build out the content calendar in a thoughtful way, it’s important to learn about the business from every angle – this means talking to everyone from the CEO to the sales team. By learning the stories of people across the company, you could potentially identify interesting stories to tell or ways to highlight the good work employees are doing at every level of the organization. Win win. And with this in mind, you’ll also…
4. Discover What the Company’s Ideal Customer’s Pain Points Are
By speaking to more than just the leaders that run a company and really discussing the nitty gritty of the day-to-day of everyone on the sales team, customer service, and more, you’ll start to identify some potential ways to address pain points for your client’s customers. I’ll give an example for context:
Pretend you’re crafting a PR strategy for a women’s skin care brand that has been formulated using only natural ingredients. By speaking with the sales and customer service teams, you’ll start to learn common questions their customers might be asking when they purchase their products, such as many customer(s) asking: “What makes your natural products different from other products on the market?”
While that’s not necessarily a pitch-ready question to pose to reporters, you can take it under advisement and start to garner some PR materials that answer this question for your desired audience. You could draft a pitch sharing information on specific ingredients in your products that no other brand is using right now, or offer an interview with the formulation team to learn about what goes into a natural skincare brand and tie in the ingredients you use.
At the end of the day, PR is only successful if you’re providing value, and thought leadership is a huge part of that. Learning what makes your customer(s) tick is a great first step in getting your brand top of mind for them through PR efforts.
5. Point Out When Something Isn’t Newsworthy
Last but arguably the most important step of all: be honest when a story or suggestion from the client isn’t newsworthy.
You’ve heard the term “honesty is the best policy” – and this certainly goes for the relationship with your PR client. If a story will not work well with the media, it’s important to share why and suggest some ways to either a) make the story more newsworthy or b) pivot to another story that might achieve the same goal the client is trying to achieve with the initial idea. A client needs to be able to trust you – and trust me, if you pitch something that isn’t newsworthy, the results will speak for themselves and that trust will be lost over time. Get out in front of it and share what is newsworthy to start building that open and honest relationship from the start.
Need help developing a PR strategy that works for your business? We do this all day everyday. Get in touch with our PR team.
Ethos is a multiplatform branding agency that develops and executes integrated marketing campaigns across multiple channels for companies inside and outside of Maine. At Ethos, we believe that the most effective way to set a company’s marketing course is by finding its core truth – its “ethos.” We know that once we discover and communicate that core truth, we can truly make a difference for each client’s unique marketing and business objectives. With Ethos, you get more than a marketing agency. You get a long-term partner whose goals are your goals. Learn more about the Ethos approach and the work we’ve done for our clients. Want to have a conversation about your brand’s core truth? Contact us!