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
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
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
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
---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
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