Modern day public relations is about more than issuing press releases - now commonly called 'content marketing', it requires research and monitoring of the conversations that are taking place in the target segments, followed by the creation and distribution of compelling content and value. Moreover it requires the consistent application of a well thought through process.
Neil Edwardslooks at the essential components of a plan.
The root of effective PR lies in the research: finding out which publications and websites are discussing subjects relevant to your brand and the sectors being targeted; it is necessary to identify the issues of the day and how to shape your news to match the news agenda.
The more 'in touch' you are with your target markets, the more you will be able to add value to them with quality news and comments that will raise your credentials with the prospects you want to influence.
Tools are available to help the listening process - Twitter, Google Alerts, news portals and press release distribution sites are among them - but there is no avoiding the hard work involved in keeping your ear to the ground and finding the daily opportunities for a press release, blog comment or simple status update.
As with so much of business, relationships are the difference between success and failure. Relationships need to be developed with the content creators and decision makers (typically, editors, journalists and bloggers) on your target publications and websites. You need to understand what they want to write about and give them stories in a format they prefer, doing all you can to make their lives easier.
Journalists regularly complain of being sent spam press releases that have no relevance to to their specialist area or publication. The counter to this is to become a recognised and trusted source of quality content that will stand out like a beacon in their crowded in-boxes.
Creating compelling news and features that your target publications will want to publish or that other websites will want to link to requires you to think and act like a journalist (see our earlier post - Why every business needs a journalist).
You need to spot opportunities on a daily basis and react to them quickly.
Sometimes, you will want to write an article or blog post, sometimes you will issue a press release, other times, it will be appropriate to merely 'tweet' or post a status update to your Facebook page. Whatever the mechanism, your efforts will be combining to engage with an increasing number of prospects over time.
Much is made of writing search engine friendly content. A well written article will, by definition, be search engine friendly. Be mindful of your target search terms, but don't go overboard with keyword stuffing - it will only make for poor quality content that is of little interest to anyone.
Distribution needs to be strategic. A variety of rifle shot and broadcast distribution techniques should be used to put your news and content directly in front of the widest possible relevant audience.
A target media list and the groundwork in building relationships will yield the biggest dividends. News wires have their place, but be prepared for your release to turn up in some fairly random places and don't be seduced by the apparent SEO value as many of the placements don't carry the links.
Of course, it is no longer necessary to rely on the judgement or appetite of an editor. There are myriad opportunities to self publish and then promote via social media. Think outside of the obvious and consider where your prospects are likely to be spending their time on-line and how you can get your content featured on these websites too.
Your research and listening activities can be brought full circle by monitoring your target publications and websites for brand name mentions and keywords - for example, one of your products. Look beyond the pure number of mentions and instead look qualitatively at the reach and influence of the publication and the degree to which your key messages are getting through.
The work is hard, but the rewards are there for the taking. A regular presence online and in the press increases your influence with your target audience and helps moves prospects round the buying cycle to the point where they will trust you and buy from you.
To find out more about how we can help you with PR, contact us.