Is Your Business Ready For The PR Marathon?
Public relations is a marathon, not a sprint; it’s a long-term relationship, not a one-night stand; it’s all about playing the long game. There are many ways to make this point but these analogies are well used for good reason.
Some companies want to dip their toe in the water in search of a quick win. It might be around a particular product launch, or tie in with breaking news that is relevant to their business. They might strike lucky, but probably won’t. To work well a PR program needs proper foundations and a chance to build momentum over time.
First of all you need to decide on objectives. It sounds basic, but these can so easily get completely lost when things are rushed and stakeholders are impatient for results. What are your business goals? It’s never about getting on the front page of a daily paper. Go deeper and ask why you want that exposure – are you just trying to raise your company’s profile, do you want to be seen as a leader in your industry, are you ultimately motivated by generating more sales leads?
This brings me to my next point: Defining target audiences. Who do you want to reach? Who are those people influenced by? Only once this has been agreed should you consider the best tactics to use.
Media training is essential if you’re going to put somebody in front of a journalist, and you must include a planning session to decide on key messages. What do you have to say about stories in the news and key topics related to your industry? What insights can you share? Most journalists won’t be interested in your shiny new product or service in its own right. By taking time to prepare properly you’ll get more out of these interactions, avoid wasting everybody’s time, and it’s more likely you’ll be called on for comment again.
Once you start reaching out to journalists, the marathon analogy comes into play again. You may not catch the attention of the mainstream media until you build a profile in niche publications or social media. Even when journalists are prepared to listen, it may be months before they cover a relevant topic. Your PR representative will likely have several conversations during that time to prepare the ground.
Slowly developing relationships with journalists over time also involves listening to what they want from you, and how you can bring value to their audience. Remember it’s a two-way street – the media does not exist to support your business objectives.
You need to lay the right foundations and build momentum to achieve results over time. Once you’ve done the hard yards building credibility, your upcoming product launch or breaking company news will be more likely to get a run.
The quick and dirty approach to PR can be tempting, but it usually leads to disappointment. Good PR requires patience, persistence and realistic expectations. The companies who understand this, and play the long game, will always get the most from their investment.
– Jennifer Jefferys