Part II of II
When fighting Business Attention Deficit Disorder or B.A.D.D., (see part one) use the following five-point approach to better tie your business objectives to PR strategy:
1. Subject matter – The subjects or topics of your PR campaign can be broad, narrow, or anything in between. PR can be used in many different ways to support and achieve your overall business and communications objectives. Some examples (but certainly not exhaustive) will shed light:
Strategy: To inform and educate:
Tactics: Basic guide to selecting your product/service; answers to questions customers commonly ask
Strategy: Introduce a product or service
Tactic: Intro package to editors/bloggers; press release; tailored pitch for editorial coverage; messages as premise for videos and other social media
Strategy: Support sales
Tactic: Content for sales presentations and leave-behinds (re-use of intro materials, educational pieces, industry issues and statistics); content for content and inbound marketing and social media; content for whitepapers and other downloads; customer success stories; testimonials for website
Strategy: Establish visibility
Tactics: Proactive content placement; thought leadership pieces; blog and other social media comments; establish a blog on topic and other content marketing; one-on-one interviews with editors at trade shows
Strategy: Enter new markets
Tactics: Speak on platform at national conference; sponsor a published roundtable; content for creative introduction to prospects/media
Strategy: Play up staff or staff knowledge
Tactics: Educational pieces addressing sales issues, business problems related to your product or service; published Q&A interview with company executive
Strategy: Showcase thought leadership
Tactics: Position pieces on industry trends; articles incorporating commentary from other industry members; educational and opinion pieces
2. Tone. While there still a place for formal writing in any published content, companies need to get away from corporate/industry speak, a heavy commercial message, and strive to truly be informative — and importantly, more personal in tone. (Think about Southwest, and how different flying is because the attendants inject personality into the ho-hum recitation of standard safety instructions.)
- What kind of company personality do you want to convey in your communications? Does your industry necessitate a strictly business approach?
- How can you show how your company is different?
- Can you convey what your customers like most about your company in your content?
- What do your prospects most need to hear, and what is the most effective way to
present that information?
You can even go as far as creating a company persona, and have some fun with it. Your ultimate approach will be dictated at least in part by the final form of your content… Will it be a feature article, a staff written piece, a blog, a sales support document on your website?
3. Placement strategy and campaign length. Ideally companies should be prepared for an ongoing, monthly outreach program to capture all the opportunities available in print and online. Like advertising, you can’t just do one PR piece and expect the world to knock on your door.
Your objectives should guide you on how long and how active your PR program should be. If you’re trying to achieve growth via maximum exposure, for example, you’ll need a year-long effort. If you have something especially timely to announce, a shorter burst campaign is workable. We announced an award for health-related company that had zero media exposure prior to the campaign. Through a very aggressive media relations effort, we achieved print, online and radio coverage to 60 million people within a matter of a few months.
In terms of placement strategy, with all the digital media you simply must go beyond your trusty trade publications and their websites. There are a wealth of outlets for your message. All your selections should be based on a thorough understanding of where your prospects are finding the information they rely upon. Newer tools like Slide Share and YouTube, as well as the old-fashioned advertorial, should not be overlooked for re-use of any of your PR content.
4. The public part of public relations. PR goes beyond media. While I’m personally not particularly fond of PR stunts, they can be effective at attracting attention. The real question here is, how and where can you interact with customers and the marketplace?
A great forum for this line of thinking is trade shows. Instead of just having an exhibit, plan a year ahead to pitch your talk at national conferences. Or give a live presentation at your exhibit. Hold an event of your own, and involve the industry in a relevant way, as we did with an “Innovation Gallery” for USG’s introduction of Fortacrete.
5. Investment versus other marketing strategies. How much you invest versus other tactics again goes back to your communication objectives, and how you’ve planned as a whole to attack them. PR can work alone, but ideally you want true integration across all of your communications tools. Since connecting with the prospect takes multiple touches, it makes sense that you’d want to reach them not only with PR, but through direct sales and marketing, interactive/digital/social outlets, e-mail marketing, advertising, etc. PR can be the backbone of your communications program, or a smaller piece, again depending on how you’ve decided will be the most effective ways to reach your target.
In our experience, many companies don’t exploit their PR strategy or toolkit to their fullest potential. A skilled practitioner can guide you from the easy steps, to the more sophisticated (like hosting roundtables, or using a PR topic as the basis for an integrated educational campaign). With the online and social media worlds’ voracious appetite for content, PR can be taken to a whole new level – helping you achieve your business goals faster than ever.