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10 Steps for a Successful PR Program
 By Shana Starr, Principal, RMS Public Relations

Few companies are successfully born without the assistance of public relations counsel. In a nutshell, PR lends third party credibility in an overcrowded, over-competitive space. Even companies with “best of breed” products or services will find themselves fighting a losing battle if no one knows of their existence–and probably won’t survive more than a few months.
 
To successfully win the war, companies need to strategically penetrate the outer layer of defense – the press community – before they can successfully target their primary objective, the elusive customer.

Equally important, and often overlooked, is the need to control your message and tailor it (often differently) to the press versus the end-user or target audience. Remember that the role of the press is to deliver news, which often means wrapping a story or concept into something that is topical and germane to their viewers.

Many companies falter when they attempt to force their perception of “what’s cool” about their product or service onto the media. While it is crucial to weave the company’s core messages into the pitch, this is a delicate art form that requires finesse, an understanding of the press person, and a willingness to creatively spin your product or service to fit their needs.
 
If you are going to invest time and money with a PR agency, it is important to remember these 10 steps for a successful PR program…regardless of budget:

1). AUDIENCE: Target and know your audience. Who are you speaking to? Who is the decision maker or potential customer? Companies often tend to overlook who exactly they should be getting in front of, and it isn’t always just the top publications such as Wall Street Journal or O Magazine. There are tens of thousands of publications (what we refer to as “verticals”) that are specifically produced for a certain segment of business; for example: trucking, produce or grocery store magazines. For companies competing within these industries, these are important publications and shouldn’t be overlooked. Ask a PR professional about the top publications in a certain field and you may be surprised at what comes up.

2.) MESSAGING: Companies often make a big mistake by selling themselves the same way, every time, despite a change in audience. A company should have a core message, but additional messaging that supports the core message should not be overlooked. For example, the medical community is not going to look at a company (or product) the same way as a patient would, so tailor your message to your potential readers or audience.

3.) FORGET YOUR EGO: Press coverage shouldn’t serve to fulfill ones ego; it should grow brand awareness, support core messaging, and grow sales. Companies or clients that get involved in ONLY seeing themselves for ego-sake tend to lose the overall goal, which is to secure media coverage. We have seen this happen over the years where a client is more concerned with how much space they get in an article, rather than just being part of an article or forgoing online coverage, because it isn’t “big enough.”

4.) IDENTIFY THE GOAL OF PR: We always ask our clients, “Why do you want PR?” Many look to PR because advertising is so expensive and they can secure more press with a PR budget, while some need PR in order to sell their company in the future, secure funding, secure more distributors, etc. It is always good to identify why you need PR so that your team can map to those goals.

5.) TRUST YOUR PR FIRM: PR isn’t something people can pick-up overnight and companies should trust people that have experience working with the media. Media tend to want to hear what will help them get their job done quickly and efficiently. PR people should know what is newsworthy and how to fit that story into what the media is currently covering.

6.) THEMEATIC: Fit your story into what is trendy and happening in the media; don’t always try and fit your company or story into theirs.

7.) TREAT PRESS LIKE “VIP”: Press want to feel important and anyone working with them would benefit from doing so! Call them back immediately, be available, answer their questions as best you can, or offer to get back to them.

8.) UNDERSTAND DEADLINES: Always ask a press person what their deadline is so that they are aware you are trying to get them the information you need.

9.) RECOGNIZE IF YOUR NEWS IS NEWSWORTHY: Ask someone outside of your business or service if they think your story is interesting – and look at what the media is covering. If all the media is covering is news on the economy, fit your story into how it saves money, can make money, etc.

10.) PLAN: The best PR efforts are ones that are planned and strategically achieved. A good PR plan offers companies the best combination of tools, strategy, and relationships necessary to achieve your goal – success. Carve out a communications plan and budget for 2010, and talk to a PR firm about what they can do within your budget to grow sales and brand awareness in tight times, or use the tips above to help formulate a plan to get in front of the media.

---Source: RMS Public Relations has been around since 2001, and has been the PR firm for Melissa Data since 2003, and is recognized as a premier PR firm when it comes to leveraging the power of the press to gain exposure for any company. For more information contact Shana-PR@rms-biz.com  or call 949-579-9569 x 802.


 

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