No matter how large or small a role public relations plays in marketing your business, there are five things that almost any CMO can do to get better public relations results from your public relations program.
There’s no such thing as TMI (too much information).
TIP #1: Talk openly with your public relations team.
To produce the best public relations results from your PR efforts, your team needs as much information about your business, products or services. In fact, we’d argue they might need even more details! A 30 second TV commercial may have 100 words, but a by-lined article in a trade journal may run 2,000 words or more.
If you are going to announce an innovative product or improved solution, your PR team is going to need to relay hard facts to journalists or bloggers to support the story and give it credibility. Make your R&D staff available for interviews. You have final approval on anything that is released, but knowing the whole, unedited story will help your team anticipate any landmines and help craft the most compelling story.
Also important is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. If you don’t share with your public relations team information that can turn quickly into a crisis, then you can’t expect them to manage the fallout from the media. The more your PR pros know in advance, the better prepared you’ll be to weather the storm.
Creating a team approach.
TIP # 2: Get your public relations and legal teams together.
We work daily with our clients’ sales divisions, marketing departments, operations units, legal teams, among others. These strategic partners give PR professionals valuable input that we can understand, appreciate and use.
There is a fine balance between press releases written for journalist consumption, and legal disclaimers that attorneys need to insert to cover their legal basis. For the best result, and to satisfy two important roles, let the public relations and legal teams work together, to recommend the best solution that works for both sides.
The attorneys may want to tell a reporter, “No comment.” While the public relations practitioner knows that won’t stop the story – it may go on without your side being included. The final decision will always be yours, but get both sides to weigh in on the equation.
Craft a compromise.
TIP # 3: Work towards a happy medium between business concerns and public relations.
We once had a restaurant client that was launching a new Sunday brunch – but they didn’t want to give examples of specific dishes that would be served. The chef had a good reason – he would be adjusting the menu frequently based on the price of ingredients. But in today’s world of sophisticated food media, there was no chance of coverage without “dishing” about at least a few signature items.
That type of push-pull between the needs of the PR team and other realities of your business is very common. You will always get better public relations results when you work with your PR team to come up with a compromise that everyone can live with.
Timing is everything. Right?
TIP # 4: Give your PR team time to be strategic, not reactive.
In today’s digital world, if you want to be in the January edition of Better Homes & Gardens, the PR team needs to start working months in advance. These types of publications still have very long lead times. Conversely, when a journalist calls you, have the call returned ASAP. Many journalists still have immediate deadlines. If you wait a day to respond, chances are the story opportunity will be gone.
Along those lines, be willing to view your public relations effort as a long-term initiative. Yes, some public relations results will come right away, but the best results come with strategic planning and consistent messaging delivered continuously over time.
Make a wise investment.
TIP #5: Get even more mileage by spending on the right added value items
Yes, one of the strengths of public relations is being a cost-effective way to promote your product or service – in fact, you may still hear the term “free publicity” from time-to-time. But some smart out-of-pocket spending can yield exponential results.
What kinds of “materials” yield the best results? Video footage, good photography, a designer to help in creating infographics, product samples…those are some top items. Look for opportunistic combinations. When we shoot a how-to video for a client demonstrating cleaning and sealing an outdoor deck, we also hire a news-style photographer to capture stills without getting in the way of the video crew. With one set-up, we get video plus a wealth of photographs to use with the media and in a range of other marketing applications (website, POP and more!) Travel is another cost to anticipate – even in this digital world, there are key editors that it’s worthwhile to meet in person, conferences and trade shows that can’t be conducted by phone or Skype.
Any one of these steps will pump-up your public relations results. Embrace all five and get ready to be dazzled!