At a top PR agency, winning a new client is when the real work starts. The same is true for internal PR or communications teams as they begin a new campaign. From understanding the sector or project, to organizing onboardings, media lists and pitches, startup can be a whirlwind. But, in many cases, a quick start for a new campaign or client helps build a long and successful relationship. It generates confidence, builds momentum, and drives enthusiasm on all sides.
In tech PR, we like to say that there are no ‘silly questions;’ yet, many know it doesn’t hold true after a time. Despite the fact that tech moves like lightning, as PR pros, we’re expected to be knowledgeable about the sectors or industries we serve. When starting a new engagement, the kickoff call is a way to get the silly questions out of the way as the team soaks up critical background info.
On this initial call, the PR team should be a sponge. It’s the time to understand PR goals as well as business goals, and agree on how success will be measured for the program. The kickoff also serves to showcase team expertise and depth of understanding, both of the sector and of our trade. In advance of this meeting, study the landscape, key competitors, the plan or proposal (if it exists), and key assets for the client. A thorough review before the kickoff meeting will enable a more fruitful discussion, more pointed questions, and a deeper dive into the company’s background and its nuances. For more pointers about what to ask and how to gather assets, see Cliff’s post about startup protocol.
An earned media opportunity early in an engagement – even during week one! – goes a long way to build a strong partnership, especially for a new collaboration. The team should consider tapping friendly editors to see what they’re working on and how the client or stakeholders may be a resource. Perhaps they’re interested in a Q&A with the CEO or need a subject-matter expert for an upcoming story. These are all ways to land the first win and wow the client.
Reactive media opportunities can also help drive that first story. Every PR team should be following relevant industry news and updates daily, as the window for a strong newsjack is quite short. A review of existing content such as blogs, case studies and even growth stories and metrics can inspsire the first proactive pitch to drive an early earned media story.
Media lists may sound tedious, but a thoughtful approach to list-building can make all the difference in the progress of the media program. It’s key to ensure each editor or producer on the list is aligned with the sector, relevant industry topics, or issues that can be addressed by SMEs (subject-matter experts), which is critical in B2B PR. A keen look at reporter requests through HARO can also help move the needle for quick media opportunities.
The PR plan is usually the first piece of collateral a team shares with the client for review, so it should be well organized. The plan must include topics and publications that are relevant to the industry and important for company messaging. It should also provide context to reflect how the business or brand fits into the industry as well as adjacent niche stories they can address. Proactive angles must be timely and creative to resonate with media, but they should also align with key company messaging in order to support business goals.
As PR professionals, we aim to surprise and delight our clients by showing proactivity and eagerness to work with them. But, the excitement of starting anew wears off swiftly. This is another reason why quick wins drive early momentum. Story research and proactive media outreach can happen simultaneously with onboarding. That first win is one big step, but a steady cadence of media opportunities will keep things running smoothly and support a productive partnership that generates glowing reviews. And, that positive word of mouth, in turn, can lead to a valuable reputation for good work and more wins in the future.