Top Media Relations Tips for Consumer PR Agencies

“Sure, I’d love to interview your client.” And with that simple response, a PR pro’s day is made. Of course, you can’t control the outcome of your pitches, and consumer public relations – like all types of PR – is an art, not a science. So, whether you’re a seasoned pro or new to the trade, there’s always a bit of chance involved. But you can improve the odds. As you look forward to 2014, here are a few simple strategies to enhance your media relations for a consumer PR account, or virtually any other.

Make media follow-up meaningful

Always include some type of value-add in your follow-up notes to media, or don’t bother sending the email at all.  If you’re lucky enough to have a newsworthy development since sending the initial email, use it.  Share a photo (embedded, not attached!) or even consider leaving out a trivial detail in the initial pitch and then sharing it in your second note.

Really know your brand

To convince media your client is worth writing about, you must be a true champion of your brand, which means knowing it inside and out. I’m not just talking about looking at the client’s website and press materials, either.  If your client is an ecommerce site, shop on it.  If you represent a destination, take a mini-vacation there.  Separate your PR persona from your “inner consumer” and ask: If this weren’t my client, what would I find cool or compelling about it? In so doing, you’ll unearth interesting facets that might be deserving of media attention.

Take advantage of “quiet periods”

Every client has a quiet period, off-season, etc., and an insightful account leader will anticipate these well in advance and find ways to make news.  This might mean linking to a broad consumer trend, revamping an evergreen angle, or taking advantage of an unsung corporate social responsibility or community relations initiative.   If you can successfully transcend this quiet period you’ll come out way ahead, as this likely will be a quiet period for your competitors as well.

Be your client’s partner

Being honest with your client is essential to a healthy, thriving relationship (or any relationship for that matter) and will always result in better message delivery to media.  This is easy when your client “gets it”, but when they don’t, it’s your job as PR counsel to politely explain and guide.  Work together to ensure a client understands what is media worthy and what isn’t. Show them case studies, results reports, or “best practices” to make sure you’re on the same page before vetting something that your experience tells you not to.  Overpromising is an easy, short-term solution, but if your team can’t deliver, it can damage a relationship in the long-run.  Be honest with your client, and if they value you as a partner, they’ll appreciate your candor and your focus on initiatives that will further their goals.

It really is all about the data

With ever-shrinking media staffs and competition for eyeballs, journalists appreciate as much content as you can provide – data in the form of polls, studies and white papers, expert opinions from multiple sources within the same company with different strengths, even external experts from academia or other arenas to bolster your client’s case. Successful PR pros can package all of these elements to help form a story.

There are ancillary benefits to all of the above – balanced stories, grateful reporters and happy clients!

What Top PR Firms Want for the Holidays

Whether your PR firm specializes in consumer PR or B2B, tech or travel, we bet you have a holiday wish list. We can’t help you with the naughty or nice part (like the wrapped Ryan Gosling here), but we do have some ideas for fantasy gifts in a more professional PR vein. Here’s what made the cut this season.

Auto-Strategy Builder
A gift that keeps on giving – an account team plugs in all the information after a client data dump and brainstorm and a computer program provides a brilliant strategic communications brief!

Wearable Tech Media Monitor
The latest and greatest in wearable tech, this Jawbone-style bracelet for the PR pro alerts you when a media contact needs a source for a story. Then, when the story hits and includes your client’s quotes perfectly, the device measures your accelerated pulse and heart rate!

Is there anything better than hijacking a holiday for publicity gain? With Have-a-Holiday, you needn’t wait for “National Pound Cake Day” or “Buzzard Day” (really, that exists) Conveniently turn any day into the day YOU need to publicize some important client messaging.

Proposal Wizard
Not that any top PR agency ever writes anything “off the shelf,” but wouldn’t it be swell if you could take your brilliant strategy and an app could whip out some tactics, newsbureau description, budgeting and some of the other more mundane aspects of proposal writing, leaving your team to dream up all the creative ways to tell your client’s story?

Meeting Clone
And its companion product, Conference Call Clone for those of us who just have too many meetings to attend!

But let’s not forget what the holidays are truly about.  ‘Tis better to give than receive, after all, so remember to thank your colleagues for their hard work and support, appreciate a client who went out of his way to get a bold PR initiative approved, and be grateful to a media contact for a well-crafted story.

How To Be A Winner in the PR Awards Game

By guest blogger George Drucker

It’s awards season. No, not Oscars, Emmys, or YouTube. It’s the time of year where you or your PR agency, whether doing brand public relations, B2B PR, consumer PR or the like, can demonstrate your creativity, media skills, digital savvy and communications expertise in a truly competitive setting.
Winning industry awards, particularly those with few categories and high recognition, is not just a great ego boost for you and your team, but a solid way to distinguish yourself and build a professional reputation. Don’t we advise clients to focus on their “key differentiators”? Industry recognition is by definition a key differentiator.

But don’t do it for yourself. Do it for your clients as well. It allows the client to bask in the glory of recognition, and it may enable them to merchandise PR strategies within their organization. It can create a self-fulfilling sense of pride from the communications division to the C-suite.

We’ve had the good fortune to serve on many judging panels for the top PR Awards from the Silver Anvils to the SABREs, and there are many learnings from being on that side of the table. A few tips to help ensure that you get noticed or, better yet, win!

Set a time and expense budget. This one’s in the “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well” category. It’s a waste to enter if you can’t devote the time, or if things are cobbled together at the last minute. Entries are often expensive as well, so you may choose to enter one, meticulously prepared campaign in a category that makes sense.

Definable, measurable, relevant research is essential. Gather the best information and data you can find to support and inform all elements of your campaign or activity, from strategies to goals to tactics and conclusions. And don’t make it nebulous. Make sure it’s relevant and precise.

Be strategic. Yes, it’s a cliché, but it’s vital to get it right. Make sure you distinguish between a strategy, an objective and a tactic. They are distinct and serve different purposes, so make it clear to the judges you “get it.”

Show creativity. It doesn’t matter what the campaign or activity is, whether a public affairs issue, a crisis action, or consumer campaign. Inventive thinking really matters. Sometimes it’s a simple twist on the traditional or a new execution for an “old” idea. It’s how you can get heard above the noise and make the effort remembered and recognized. Yet, a creative idea without strategic direction is creativity lost.

Choose categories wisely. Be careful and clear in selecting the right category (or categories) for your entry. Don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole. Be very mindful of the published criteria for submissions. Judging dozens of written entries can be overwhelming and time-consuming, and sometimes the judges are looking for a reason to eliminate one to simplify the task. The wrong category will also raise a red flag about your thinking and attention to rules.
Now go home and polish your acceptance speech.

Questioning PR Measurement? Please Do!

While most PR professionals have moved well past counting “clips” or calculating ad equivalencies as a gauge of a campaign’s success, there is still no one universally accepted way to measure PR outcomes.

Perhaps there shouldn’t be. While no two campaigns have the same objectives or strategic roadmap, why would the results calculus be the same? Or does the clamor for an “industry standard” make a world of sense? The fact is, PR metrics are evolving just as the industry has.

Take social media. Do followers and fans and likes and thumbs ups translate into tangible benefits for the brand or business? Or are they mere vanity metrics? The answer depends on the brand, its baseline perception, and its goals.

No matter what type of PR campaign you’re running – consumer, product, or professional services PR, the metric that matters is how PR outcomes track to business results. Of course, the quality of media coverage a given campaign produces is vital, and brand reputation has real, measurable value, but the final yardstick is an agreed-upon business goal.

For an e-commerce company, this will often mean website traffic. For a financial services business with a monthly seminar, it may be an increase in attendees and the resulting engagement with the company. For a business with an aggressive thought leadership program in the works, we may pay attention to deliverables like bylined articles or speaking opportunities, but we are ultimately seeking that most precious of all intangibles, influence – the type of influence that creates new customer interest, attracts partners, and supports purchase conversions.

A less recognized part of PR measurement is inside the corporation. Merchandising positive press and social media engagement to senior management isn’t just playing corporate politics; it’s part of achieving greater awareness about what strategic communications can do and how it fits into the bigger business picture.

No matter what type of ROI for PR you seek, the most important measurement definition is the one agreed upon by the communications professional (whether inside the company or at a partner agency) and those who hold the purse strings. We have an obligation to help client companies focus on achieving goals like this “holy trinity” we’ve adopted.

Tangible incremental increase in sales tracked to earned media coverage

Quantifiable change in awareness, knowledge, attitude, opinion, or behavior that occurs as a result of a public relations program or campaign (most effective when PR is only awareness tool employed)

Marked uptick in engagement from:
• visits to website
• requests for information
• sharing website resources
• increased positive comments, (signs of ongoing relationship)

What PR measurements make it onto your must-have list?