6 PR Tactics For Back-To-School

Certain times of year are associated with major public relations efforts. Next to holiday season, back-to-school may present the most bountiful opportunities of all. B2S initiatives can support diverse categories, including personal finance, fashion, health and safety. Here are some examples of what works well with those on the back-to-school beat.

Know who covers what. This is a reminder to follow the “golden rule” of media list building – thou shalt not trust a subscription database-produced media list on its own. Sure, it’s a great place to start to build out your B2S media list, but all contacts must be researched for viability. It also pays to do a quick search of who has covered the topic in the recent past. Often times this unearths an unexpected contact whose regular beat may be something completely unrelated but who assumes this assignment each year.

Be part of a round-up. The tried and true tactic of assembling a list of complementary (but non-competitive) new products or services is always a media winner. You have done much of the work for the journalist and presented a newsworthy array of goods, rather than just tooting your own horn. Recently, this approach served us well in this syndicated article from Newsday, that we placed on behalf of client, Wearsafe, a wearable personal safety device, designed with the college student in mind.

Stay on top of timing. September school start dates are so last decade. Today’s schools start as early as today for both k-12 and colleges and universities. Be mindful of this when putting together pitches, you can’t be too early! It’s often helpful to include start dates in pitches that are localized to a particular city or state.

Trends, trends, trends. As with any good PR pitch, seek out trends to hitch your company’s product or service to. Hot fashion items for kids, what’s new in tech and what to pack for dorm rooms are examples of the type of attention-getting topics to research while putting together a pitch. Of course, always a good idea to see what’s going on in the news on the day your team is pitching so that your query is fresh and topical.

Survey the intended audience. Forward-thinking companies avail themselves of fresh data every B2S season. This includes the popular annual surveys on B2S spending that we conduct on behalf of shopping app Retale, which have proven so popular that media begin asking for the data before the survey’s even done! If budget permits, there are also advantages to surveying a particular audience, such as single parents or stay-at-home dads to add a different dimension.

Produce content on the topic. Take the good information you’ve gleaned from a combination of the above tactics and produce a byline article for a company executive. Again, publications are looking for timely content and willing to publish cogent, well-written pieces on everything from what’s new in campus security to better ways for retailers to profit from the season. The topics and outlets are only limited by your imagination.

5 Post-Summer Tips To Get Your PR Team In Gear

PR agency and media relations people tend to work hard, relish summer Fridays and warm-weather vacations, and return to work with gusto when fall rolls around and clients suddenly seem to realize how much needs to be accomplished in the fourth quarter of the year.
But even the most zealous communications pros can find it a challenge to return to high gear before their suntans fade. Here are our best tips for making the transition with your PR team once the summer has come to an end.

Host a “back-to-school” breakfast or lunch. For journalists who cover a regular beat, it’s not uncommon for elected leaders or heads of large organizations to host an annual breakfast for media who cover them. If you’re a company or brand that gets regular coverage, try getting to know the journalists who cover you in a less formal setting. Chalk it up to relationship building, and starting the season fresh. Usually journalists leave with a few story ideas, and the organization learns more about how to personalize communications with each person.

Shorten every email. Email is much abused and overused in PR and other professions: too frequent, too long, too irrelevant, and too unclear. Take the opportunity to create a new practice and shorten every email by 50 percent. Shorter emails are more likely to be read and responded to, and recipients dragging themselves back from summer vacation will thank you for your brevity. One of our clients is famous for sending succinct, often one-word emails that get the job done. Other notoriously succinct emailers? Jeff Bezos and the late Steve Jobs.

Transform your work space. There’s nothing like a physical makeover to provide an energy boost for switching into high gear. PR and media professionals live by their organization habits, and fall is a great time to purge your files, buy new notebooks or laptops, and reorganize your space.

Embrace cultural and business shifts.  Now is the time to read up on the latest business or PR thinking and embrace new habits. For example, big data and machine learning are making marketing and “business intelligence” even smarter, so companies no longer have to wonder about metrics and ROI. Venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz believes this sort of analytics will soon be part of regular business practice, rather than a standalone feature.

Change things up a bit. When the seasons change, new and different ways of doing routine work can bring a welcome dose of fresh energy. Are staff and weekly PR meetings held sitting face to face around a phone or conference table? Perhaps try walking meetings. We know sitting at a desk for 9 hours isn’t great for your health, but walking also leads to more creative thinking, according to a Stanford study.

Back To PR School

by guest blogger Lauren Silverman

eptember is nearly here, and that means one thing: Back to School! Even if you haven’t set foot in a classroom in years, there are always new PR tools and skills to master. Here are some of my favorites.

Refresh your writing – Strong, succinct writing makes both pitches and programs more persuasive. Make sure to review AP Style rules periodically as they change every year. Also, check out websites like PR Daily for tips on eliminating jargon, clichés, and commonly misused words.

Assess your performance – This time of year is always somewhat of a fresh start and offers useful timing for an annual review if possible. The feedback should be used for goal setting!

Reorganize and restock – There may come a time when you unexpectedly need certain office supplies and they are nowhere to be found. Take office inventory and use the timely sales and coupons as an excuse to stock up!

Learn a new skill – PR requires constant learning, and now’s a good time to reassess what skills you have and what you want to learn. Whether it’s a new language or a new blogging platform, pick something and become a whiz.

Renew your subscriptions – Take the opportunity to discover new blogs and websites and unsubscribe from outlets you don’t actually check. This can apply to Twitter as well! Make sure you’re following current thought leaders and public figures!

Look back and forth – Take stock of the past six months and see what patterns or work habits emerged – keep the positive ones and purge the rest.
It seems like class is never out of session for PR pros! How else do you keep learning about the industry? Do you have any new tools to recommend? Feel free to respond in the comments.