Stymied by a leadership team who wants a strategic PR campaign but can’t articulate precise campaign goals or actions? It seems simple enough; the company is launching a new product or heading in a new direction, so the marketing folks want positive exposure. Now comes the hard part. Of course you’re seeking results that move the needle on new app downloads or web inquiries, but the program will live or die based on the strategy. If you’re faced with a team that can’t seem to form that strategy, try taking these steps.
Identify the true target. Some companies are eager to begin communicating before identifying their true target. For example, considering a consumer outreach campaign before achieving B2B buy-in. Smart counsel contends that rushing to market before setting the stage in the business and trade press can fail to generate consumer enthusiasm. Reaching this decision requires going the extra mile on target audience research to engage influencers and narrow-niche business press before going out to a broader audience.
Lead by example. Offer up some positive case studies in similar industries where a sharply honed PR strategy proved invaluable. For example, to improve an e-commerce company’s reputation in the nutrition space, the recommendation was to partner with a non-profit whose good works would provide a “halo effect” for the brand. Demonstrating positive results for another consumer product via a strategic alliance helped move management towards a decision.
Mold the messaging…and the messenger. The best messaging combines the company’s descriptive, internal language (not too jargony) with a PR pro’s appropriate turn of phrase, or “pithiness” where warranted. For example, when introducing a new medical device based on an old technology – ultrasound – a team we worked with coined the phrase “sustained acoustic medicine” or “sam.” The simple new terminology helped make the product and the message fresh. It also helped inform our choices for company spokespeople, both internal and external, from the dynamic young company co-founder to medical professionals with a similar profile.
Bring something new to the table. As the strategy begins to take shape, can your team bring one bold idea to the group to amplify? Real-time, near daily developments in social media make it the perfect category in which many companies can innovate. Find the perfect way to bring a corporate or product story to life, perhaps with video. Consider ephemeral Snapchat videos like these examples from GE’s recent #DRONEweek, or breathe new life into a Facebook campaign the way online retailer Chubbies is doing with its humorous 30-second spots.
Know what success looks like. Although KPIs vary from company to company and campaign to campaign, setting achievable PR metrics at the outset is always key. Start with quality media placements that deliver on message and SOV. Consider where the stories appeared – all the great placements in the world are of little value if your target doesn’t see or hear them. Most importantly, look at what business results can be tied back to media exposure – can a story be directly linked to a boost in website traffic? Result in social shares or a higher Klout score? Were downloads increased? Ideally these outcomes can be tracked back to a PR-related source. Include social shares in your metrics calculations as well.
Modern PR is less “static” and more dynamic than ever – and it all starts with a solid strategy.