“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!