7 Keys To Using Surveys For PR


In public relations, as with with so many practices, having good data is important. Whether your focus is in consumer or B2B tech PR or communications programs for fintech or nonprofit work, being able to serve up precise numbers can go a long way in media relations. Surveys are effective for generating such data. If done well, the facts and figures can be used immediately, and then keep working for months to come. Here are our keys to using surveys effectively for good PR.

Make it super relevant. New stats about snow-related injuries in New York City can make for compelling stories, but if it’s the middle of summer, who cares? Similar to our point about “newsjacking” as an effective way to find a story angle, it’s better to find ways to connect a survey to what’s making headlines right now. Presidential election, anyone?

Don’t get too complicated. If the reader has to struggle or work too hard to understand the math, it’s too complicated. Keep the calculations simple but not dumbed down, and the points streamlined. A good survey should be constructed around a key theme anyway, with some sense of the outcome already in mind from the outset.

Be transparent. Use sound principles and an honest vendor partner (if not conducting the survey in-house), and be able to answer questions about how the survey was conducted. Always be prepared to provide access to the raw data if asked (but not many will ask for it anyway). Cite sources of information, and provide ample context about how and when the survey was done.

But don’t reveal too much. Answer all media’s questions, but you don’t need to reveal every detail. Over explaining tends to bore people, and certain details about how your survey was conducted might make it seem less strong. For example, did you need to cut the respondent pool to 400 from 1,000? Did it take two weeks to achieve the required number of responses? No need to reveal these facts unprompted, and if no one asks, why tell?

Have more than one or two key data points. To ensure good coverage in media, data from a survey must be enough to work as a standalone story, as opposed to one fact woven into a possible story about other things. Make sure survey results are mined and organized in such a way that they reveal several interesting, takeaway points, not just one or two.

But have a clear lead. In providing adequate messaging, however, don’t allow key takeaways to fight for attention or confuse the reader. Include a clear, strong point that can work as a headline, making it easier for journalists to understand what’s most important. Other points should back up, or relate to the lead message.

Keep data on hand for talking points. Compelling facts unearthed by surveys make for great fodder that can be sprinkled throughout media interviews and presentations. Including precise figures adds credibility and gives media and audiences some concrete to latch onto, so be sure to keep a cheat sheet of sorts with relevant points from surveys.

Beyond Green Beer: PR Ideas For St. Patrick’s Day

For those in PR who love to take advantage of holidays, St. Patrick’s Day can be among the most fun. After all, what other occasion calls for lunching on green bagels and green beer? But even the most die-hard followers of the Irish Apostle can tire of the same old tricks year after year. Not to worry – our team tapped the luck of the Irish to cultivate fresh ideas for generating some good PR around St. Patrick’s Day.

Win new followers. Social media is increasingly a tool for PR teams to work with, right alongside earned media and content development to drive awareness and engagement for your company or brand. Take advantage of the festive holiday frenzy and win new followers on social media platforms by getting clever about how you incorporate St. Patrick’s Day hashtags. #luckoftheirish is sure to be trending, as is #potofgold and of course, #stpatricksday. And don’t neglect a St. Pat’s Day push on social media if B2B PR is your game — social media is equally relevant for the B2B crowd, as we wrote about recently here. Inject a little competition for your internal communications team and set a goal for how many new followers you’d like to earn on each platform. Make it a public campaign and give a prize away to the follower who pushes you over your goal.

Try a contest. A festive holiday lends itself to driving engagement on social media. Think of a relevant St. Patrick’s Day Sweepstakes idea, or best use of your product or service in a St. Patrick’s costume or activity, and ask followers to photograph their entries, putting them in the running for a prize. The contest is bound to add to your following, as mentioned above, and drive engagement and awareness for your brand.

Ideas for entertaining. Does your company or brand make or do anything relevant for partying? The National Retail Federation estimates St. Patrick’s Day generates roughly $4.6 billion in spending on festivities. With that bit of data on hand, media will be looking to help viewers and readers with great ideas for entertaining and frolicking — moving beyond green beer, of course. Come up with a fresh list of new ideas that will catch people’s attention to offer up to entertainment and lifestyle media. Think across the entire spectrum of the holiday’s festivities, from decor and fun accessories to food and drink, to music and party games.

Make a big splash. In other words, try a PR stunt, if the fit is right for you. Our favorite St. Patrick’s Day stunt is still the city of Chicago’s decades-old tradition of dying the Chicago River green. If making a big splash is up your alley, be sure to check out our post on the secrets to a successful PR stunt from last year.

Why stop at St. Patrick’s Day? Every month is filled with reasons to celebrate. The creative PR team keeps a calendar for the year to make sure no day is left unrecognized.  There are offbeat holidays like the upcoming National Potato Chip Day, and there are also significant times of year that some companies can really “own.” Crenshaw cleverly leveraged Daylight Saving Time (coming this weekend) to great effect for Sleepy’s, which has reaped PR benefits for years.

SWAK: PR Valentines For 2016

Public relations work can sometimes be a thankless task, but occasionally PR pros receive “valentines” of sorts. Like the ideal client, or the story that just keeps getting better and better, the approach of Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to chronicle our favorite gifts. Here are just a few PR valentines that make us feel like we’ve been struck by Cupid’s arrow all over again.

Real news. Many PR professionals are familiar with the dreaded scenario of a client with little (or lackluster) news to promote, but very high expectations. What a difference it makes to have truly newsworthy stories to share with media. Not only does it make the job easier, but it ups the caliber of results we’re able to deliver and strengthens relationships with media contacts.

The ideal PR client. What makes the ideal client? It’s different for different PR professionals, of course, but we’ve been fortunate enough to work with some clients that have a good understanding of how public relations works, have interesting and newsworthy things to say, are present enough to provide the resources our team needs but trust us enough that we’re free to execute the work, and are just fun people to work with to boot. What more could you ask for?

The story that keeps on giving. If nothing else, the U.S. election season, and in particular the Donald Trump presidential bid, has been a media feast, as well as a gift to PRs and pundits of all stripes. Wherever you are on the political spectrum, it’s obvious that Trump has done a masterful job of creating, dominating, and controlling the news. Media and PR professionals don’t see that kind of story very often. Barring a crazy New Hampshire outcome, it seems the election, and the Trump factor, will be covered for a good, long while.

The perfect alignment of schedules. Providing top-notch service to a full roster of clients is a juggling act that often requires some clever scheduling tactics. It can get especially tricky when arranging interviews between media on one US coast (while you’re on the other) with clients in Europe or Asia. So we thank our lucky stars when the opportunities we’ve worked so hard to create sync up without contortions on our part.

The journalist who loves you back. Anyone who goes into public relations is a natural media junkie, and one of the things we love about the work is getting to develop relationships with media professionals whose work we admire. So it’s a shot in the arm when the journalists you pitch start to love you back!  Though this is a Valentine’s Day post, we know infatuation has little to do with it. As with any relationship, it’s built on mutual respect and understanding, and learning how to provide value to one another so the relationship continues to work going forward, as we recently had the pleasure of writing about in this post.

6 Tips For Picking The Right PR Firm

Choosing the right PR agency for your company can be a daunting challenge, but fortunately there’s plenty of knowledge to be shared on the subject. Whether you’re seeking a firm that excels in B2B technology PR, or an agency with international capabilities for consumer brands, consider these tips to help find the right agency for your needs.

Look for relevant experience.  This is an obvious first step, but it’s worth repeating. Look for an agency with no conflicts but recent experience in your industry. However, don’t be tempted to simply pick the firm that worked with the biggest player in your category; a successful PR campaign isn’t a cookie-cutter process, and what worked for a competitor might not fly with other companies that are different in size or culture.

Spend time with the shortlisted firms. It’s fine to start with an exhaustive list, but you will have a better outcome by spending more time with fewer candidates. So whittle the list to a select few, and have in-person meetings to ask all your questions and get a sense for how well their team might mesh with yours, how they get along with one another, and how they view the opportunity (including challenges.) A good PR relationship is collaborative, and the right agency should have a point of view, not just a sales spiel.

Include a decision-maker at your company in the search and vetting process. To work successfully for your company’s needs, a PR agency needs to know up front all about your PR needs, your expectations and definition of success, and, importantly, budget. To avoid a mismatch and save precious time during your search, include someone from leadership – a top decision maker – early in the vetting process.

Use a simple RFP. When requesting proposals, would you rather hear from firms who are good at filling out lots of paperwork, or agencies that spend valuable time and energy on creative ideas and effective strategies? A long, arduous RFP process only proves a PR firm is good at administrative tasks. While administrative organization is important, it does little to prove whether a firm is right for you.

Don’t neglect references. As with hiring employees, an agency can look good on paper or in presentations, but have some fatal flaws that go unseen until deeper in the relationship. Speaking to references isn’t a surefire solution, but it helps to raise red flags, if there are any.

Ask a few unconventional questions. Go beyond the basic questions about experience, the team, and budgets, and see how the PR team thinks on their feet. As we wrote about here, asking questions like “Why do you want to work with us?” might not have a right answer, but it can reveal important traits (or lack thereof), like authenticity and motivation to succeed.

The Best PR Moves Of 2010

This year brought well-publicized disasters, misbehaving celebrities, and corporate goofs. But, which individuals and companies communicated most skillfully during 2010? Here are our nominees.

Wikileaks. Whether Julian Assange is a hero or a “high-tech terrorist” depends on your point of view. But in 2010 Wikileaks perfected a media relations strategy for maximum impact for the release of thousands of  leaked diplomatic cables. Previously, Wikileaks had either trickled out its materials too gradually, or overwhelmed the media with an overlarge outpouring of classified information. But, in November, it seemed to get things just right. Its strategy was simple:  simultaneous publication of the leaked materials by five highly credible news organizations. The result was domination of news headlines for days.

Jon Stewart. Only Stewart could draw over 250,000 to a rally that started as a joke. Not only did his “Rally to Restore Sanity” beat Glenn Beck’s crowd by a surprising margin, but this year, Stewart showed he can do what no one else seems to be able to — bust legislative gridlock. His public shaming of the senators blocking the passage of the 9/11 first responders bill actually got the bill through. It earned him acknowledgement from the White House and a comparison to broadcast legend Edward R. Murrow in a glowing New York Times piece. Stewart still insists he’s not political, but his influence is formidable. This guy really gets things done. Jon Stewart in 2012?

The Tea Party. On the other side of the aisle, the Tea Party was able to cool some serious internal divisions to speak out with one voice. Despite some candidates who landed in hot water (“I’m not a witch” will live in PR infamy), most of the party’s key players spoke and behaved not like typical politicians, but like real people – mad as hell, and determined to do something about it. More importantly, its message was never diluted. A full-strength focus on government spending brought the party credibility and congressional seats.

The Chilean government. Its flawless handling of the rescue of 33 miners showed not just leadership on the part of  Sebastian Pinera and his government, but real storytelling genius and media relations savvy. The final rescue scenario was better than any mini-series, complete with a happy ending.

Gap. Yes, I know its logo fiasco looked like a bad fit and a PR blunder, but the company’s ultimate decision to return to the original iconic identity made it more relevant than it’s been in years, at least to a narrow slice of influentials. Not a model PR campaign, but a good example of turning bad publicity into good will.

Conan O’Brien. He started the year by walking away from one of the most coveted gigs in television, and agreeing to a seven-month exile before the premiere of his new show on…basic cable? But Team Coco made clever use of the hiatus. Their social media strategy was genius. His hilarious Twitter feed was vintage Conan, while kicking off a string of updates that kept him in front of fans. Coverage from his “Legally Prohibited” comedy tour ensured his relevance until the debut of his third act this September.

JetBlue. 2010 was a tough year for travel companies. Start with a grounded economy, add higher fares and fewer services, throw in an eruption from an unpronounceable volcano, and top it off with a security controversy. JetBlue not only came out on top again in passenger surveys, but it handled flight attendant Steven Slater’s unexpected, and highly publicized, exit from the job with PR savvy and typical JetBlue cool.

Facebook. Despite another privacy crisis in 2010, Facebook turned the potential reputation nightmare of the unflattering film “The Social Network” into an opportunity for a charm offensive on the part of founder Mark Zuckerberg. Reaching 500 million members and Time Magazine’s Person of the Year isn’t such a bad way to close out 2010.

Next up: Worst PR Moves of 2010.