PR Fundamentals for Marketers

The world is upside down. When things feel out of control, sometimes, the best thing to do is get back to the basics.

Public relations and marketing are already fluid practices and have become even more so during the pandemic. Carve out some quarantine time to review industry fundamentals, and how PR practice complements marketing work.

What is PR?

Public relations is a strategic effort to influence the thinking and perception of the public or your audience about yourself or your business. The information comes from an unbiased, third-party who people trust.

These placements create awareness for your brand, service, or product, seen through the journalist’s filter, and are placed at the discretion of the news outlet.

These pitches can take days, weeks, months, or years of relationship-building, and there are no guaranteed placements for that hard work. However, you don’t pay for them. PR and “earned” media are synonymous.

What are PR goals?

Businesses and individuals want to attract attention, generate interest, educate people, plus drive sales and event attendance. You want customers and potential clients to talk about your brand, as word-of-mouth remains the most effective and cost-effective PR and marketing tool.

What are PR benefits?

Successful public relations helps achieve strategic organizational goals, drives internal alignment, addresses customer confidence and brand reputation, and influences news cycles. Targeted PR generates credibility, heightens visibility, facilitates endorsements, and partnerships.

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Register now for her workshop on Tuesday, August 18 at 1 p.m. FREE for members, $20 for guests.

What is newsworthy?

A press or news release should (obviously) share news. Make sure you have something tangible and meaningful to report, like a new product, new vertical, new leadership, or partnerships.

Tie your news to the national conversation: do you have new mask technology to help slow the spread of COVID-19? Have you developed an app to find local activist rallies? Link your announcement to the calendar: does your product help Halloween or holiday celebrations?

Find your niche or business differentiator and target those reporters, influencers, and consumers with your message.

What media should I pitch?

Do your due diligence. Read the trades in your field. Initiate relationships on LinkedIn and other social media (but just say hi first!). Know the journalists you pitch – read their articles, so you know their interests and angles.

Pitch the story that you want to read but haven’t seen anyone write. Be pleasant yet persistent in your queries.

Subscribe to a media monitoring and social listening platform like Meltwater or Help A Reporter Out to target reporters, beats, and outlets.

How do I start?

Identify your business goal. Will sharing news from your organization help you meet this goal? Keeping your goal in mind will help you stay focused on what is essential and what you are sharing.

And, if you don’t think you have news, think again. There is almost always something that your business can share. For example, are you giving a talk for an association as a virtual guest speaker? 

Has your business rolled out a new service as a result of the pandemic? Your press release is just a headline away!

Frame your press release by determining your headline and subhead.

HEADLINE: “XXX Company Launches Telehealth Consulting Program in Response to HealthSystem Needs”

SUBHEAD: “Pandemic creates a surge of telehealth issues confusing hospitals on both delivery and payment, national consultants help.”

The next step is to write the basics. Include the who, what, where, when, why, and how in your press release. Once you have crossed your “t’s” and dotted all the “I’s,” it’s time to release your news. There is a strategy that goes with that part of the work, but that topic is for another blog!

If COVID has taught us anything, it’s to seize the opportunity for reinvention and to remember the basics of communication.

Looking for more basic PR training? Register for the AMA Chicago’s upcoming online workshop series, “PR Fundamentals for Marketers” at 1 p.m. Tuesday, August 18.

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