In the ideal world a PR program has room for everything — a robust media relations component, branded content, strategic events, influencer outreach, and possibly borrowed-interest tactics that ramp up news during slow periods. But in the real world, budgets can be lean, or maybe they’re subject to change. Here are ways to squeeze the most from any public relations budget.
For many clients a healthy allocation for earned media outreach will be at the top of the priority list. That’s the element that typically generates the greatest and most immediate return when it comes to branded visibility. There are exceptions, however. A client in a commodity category or one with no discernable news – like bath soap or flash drives – may put its eggs in a sponsorship basket, with earned media outreach limited to retail and trade channels. It’s all a matter of placing resources where they have maximum impact.
Ramp up the reactive media
Grabbing on to a breaking news story like a move by a competitor or a celebrity scandal can offer quick and cost-effective coverage. A security breach that makes headlines naturally offers a chance for comment by proactive cybersecurity providers. Kim Kardashian’s tweet about her psoriasis may mean an opening for a dermatologist or relevant product. The key here is to act fast, as many breaking stories have short windows for action.
Use free PR and media tools
The bad news is that many services that were once free now charge for their services, like HARO and ProfNet. Yet many still offer a good value (check out MuckRack and BuzzSumo, for example), and there are still free resources for research and reactive media opportunities like trusty Google Alerts, Google Trends, Hey.Press and Pitchrate, to name a few.
Be strategic with newswire distribution
It may seem a small thing, but it pays to be stingy – or at least strategic – about newswire distribution of press releases. For one thing, a press release isn’t necessary for every announcement. See Chris Harihar’s post for advice on how to determine if a news release is really needed. Wire distribution is expensive, and the free services don’t get much pickup in our experience. A single earned media placement will have greater SEO value and certainly more credibility than a thousand newswire releases.
The beauty of B2B PR programs in particular is that the branded or bylined business content generated can often be adapted to other channels. A CEO speech at an industry conference will work beautifully as a series of blog posts or bylined articles, or maybe as a pitch for a podcast. A provocative blog post can be distilled in to a series of digital videos, or a C-level Q&A posted on LinkedIn or another social platform. Survey results can easily become infographics or the centerpiece of a customer newsletter. Every good blogger knows that popular posts can be turned into roundups or updates to be relevant to what’s in the news or the industry conversation.
Swap paid content for owned
Bylines, bylines, bylines. They’re invaluable for business and technical clients who want to reach a professional audience while building a brand for key executives. Some trade media have an almost unlimited appetite for high-quality, through-provoking content like opinion pieces and articles bylined by knowledgeable executives. An investment in relevant content can also be amplified through promotion among partners and stakeholders, and employees who are incentivized employees to share it. Or, boost it with cost-effective paid social advertising. It’s a win-win for the brand and the publication, and a little goes a long way.
I’m one who advises brands against too much outsourcing of the customer relationship to celebrities or expert influencers, and we worry about fraud when it comes to social media outcomes. But that doesn’t mean influencer relations should be overlooked. One of the best investments for a brand in nearly any category, from beauty to software, is in up-and-comers who have sway over customers, or whose expertise is particularly relevant to a business or personal need. Check out some key tips and tricks for building and vetting an influencer marketing program.