In my work in marketing and ad tech PR, or even other B2B PR categories, I’ve seen too many agency teams rely on clients to supply news. That’s not a great strategy for PR success. While most companies have their share of announcements, partnerships and other milestones, unless the company is Facebook or Google, you will have to do more than wait for clients to offer newsworthy stories.
After all, that’s why clients hire PR agencies in the first place.
Clients want inventive minds that can generate and maintain a drumbeat of coverage, even during “quiet” periods. It’s easy to make something work when you’re being spoon-fed the assets. But, with some industry knowledge, a skilled PR agency can make things happen without placing constant pressure on the client to deliver.
It may be a heavy lift, but that’s what we signed up for. Here are a few tips.
Know your industry. And make it your job to keep relearning it, because things change quickly.
If you know the space, you can pitch your client to speak to key developments, current/future trends, and more. You can focus on thought leadership, promoting your client’s expertise during times of little or no news announcements.
For example, PR pros sometimes struggle to understand the advertising and marketing space. We’ve encountered ad tech or marketing clients who say, “our agency team didn’t know what an ad exchange is,” or “their bylined articles were too basic.”
Try to organize your research into three or four key trends that you take advantage of when news is lacking. The beauty of hot-button issues and trends like native advertising and programmatic buying is that you can be either “pro” or “con” a controversial new technology or development, since any reasonable point of view or smart forecast can be included in trade roundups or profiles.
Go vertical. Whatever your client’s story is, it likely has multiple audiences.
Most companies can discuss their offering with ad and marketing trades like Adweek, Advertising Age or MediaPost. But that’s only part of the story. Why not tell business press about the client’s overall success, or work with tech media to more deeply explore platform functionality? Also, don’t forget your client’s key customer verticals; each of those categories have trade media to connect with.
In non-news moments, this strategy can really pay dividends. There will always be an audience for your story, and there will never be a time when you’ve spoken to everyone. If you think you have, you’re either 1) not trying hard enough, or 2) you don’t know enough about your client or their business.
Revisit and recycle. Over a period of time, you’ve probably received dozens of documents, whitepapers and case studies from your client. Many of those documents languish on your server after review, as they were most likely intended for background information during the onboarding process.
In moments without news, though, you can revisit these assets, determining new ways to leverage them while also identifying value where you previously hadn’t. In PR, nothing is thrown away; anything and everything can be used to create opportunities, so make sure no asset is wasted.
These are just three ways to stoke the media coverage machine without any hard news in the queue. In PR, it’s important to strike a balance between a client having news and “manufacturing” something credible that’s rooted in the client’s brain trust or content resources.
More often than not, it’s up to us do the heavy lifting. But those muscles get stronger over time, until it becomes an automatic exercise. You’ll be surprised at your own ability to generate powerful earned media results, even without the client’s help.