Winning at PR takes a multi-pronged approach. You need a stellar PR strategy that’s supported by marketing efforts, you need time and resources, and you need to know when to reach out and who to reach out to.
But modern PR is so different from PR of the past. A decade ago, PR was communicating with news reporters, sending out press releases, and focusing on major media outlets. With the growth of social media, alternative media forms like podcasts, YouTube channels, and the rise of the influencer—PR has totally changed.
Now, to win at PR, you have to do a little bit of everything. Traditional PR strategies—like pitching and press releases—are the foundation from which you build out your brand with things like influencer campaigns, social media marketing, thought leadership, and even sales.
That’s a lot to manage at once. How do companies do it? It’s all about knowing the right timing, budgeting your resources, and implementing a plan. Our CEO Shama Hyder spoke on the Traction webinar to discuss all of the keys to winning at PR in 2022. Here are some of the best tips she offered.
Know when to leverage PR and marketing.
“Good marketing is a privilege,” Shama said. Many brands—especially those in the beginning phases of developing marketing and PR strategies—don’t realize how much you have to invest in good marketing. Winning campaigns cost money. Don’t believe the lie that if you just go viral one time, you’ll achieve all of your marketing goals. There’s no single-punch solution to marketing and PR.
Related reading: Not Seeing ROI from PR? Here Are 5 Mistakes You Could Be Making
With this in mind, the first question every brand leader should ask is, “Can we afford to invest in marketing and PR at this time?” If your company is struggling to make payroll, you shouldn’t be spending those dollars on marketing and PR. The math just doesn’t work out. But if you have the dollars to spare, marketing and PR can be the thing that takes your business to the next level.
When you have the dollars to invest in marketing and PR, really invest them. Consider your brand, messaging, look, and voice. Analyze your target audience and break it down into precise segments. Create a strategy and a plan for implementation. And, unless you have one in-house, that plan should include finding a partner with PR specialists who can help you get your story out to the masses.
Here’s a harsh reality: Many startup leaders think that if they have a good idea and a social media account, their brand will get picked up in the press without a formal PR agency or brand strategy. This is never the case.
We’re not trying to discourage smaller, newer companies from trying to tackle marketing internally and on a budget—of course, we believe that marketing is incredibly important—but you need to know your limits and what your efforts can reasonably accomplish. If you try to stretch beyond your budget, your time, or even the energy you have available, you’ll end up with less-than-stellar campaigns and wasted efforts.
Our recommendation: Focus on building your brand, making connections, and solidifying your business plan. Once those details are finalized, you’ll be more equipped to settle into a full marketing and PR campaign.
Marketing and PR can’t be one person’s job.
Somewhere between the launch of the internet and the invention of social media, corporate leaders decided that one person could manage marketing and PR. Smaller companies will often assign one person to cover all of their outreach initiatives, from writing press releases to generating and implementing a social strategy.
The result: ridiculously high turnover
Marketing and PR are so complex, especially in this digital age, that it’s impossible for one person to run them both well. Don’t fall into this trap. Instead, outsource, outsource, outsource. Find a marketing and PR agency (wink, wink, hint, hint, nudge, nudge, that’s what we do) that can support you at the level that you can afford.
When you consult with a PR firm, you’ll get an expert’s take on the most effective ways to optimize your marketing budget—instead of shooting in the dark trying to figure out how to do marketing and PR on your own. Your marketing budget is better spent when you pull from the expertise of others, so you can get measurable results instead of trying to juggle everything yourself and burning out.
Related reading: 4 PR Myths You Should Stop Believing
Build a network of resources, and don’t be stuck up.
Let’s say you’ve decided to work with a PR firm or hire someone internally. How do you know you’re setting out on the right foot? Your first course of action should always be to build your network of resources. In the digital age, this is more than just a list of press contacts. Your network should be varied. Look for podcast hosts, influencers in your field, or even highly specific but smaller trade publications. Take time to build your network of resources and collaborate with people when you get the opportunity.
Don’t be stuck up about your connections.
This is a mistake we see so many company leaders making. They come into a new PR or marketing partnership expecting to be on the front page of The New York Times or on the cover of Entrepreneur magazine. Press hits of that caliber are hard to come by, and while it would be exciting to have your company get attention from a major publication, it may not be the most beneficial placement. Smaller, more targeted publications can be just as effective—and often more so. Don’t turn down opportunities that feel smaller. More often than not, these opportunities will be the stepping stones that help you build a larger network and get connected with thought leaders and industry-defining publications.
The media landscape is changing so fast. The local reporter you talked to today for a small feature may eventually work at a national publication. Nurture the connections you make so that as you grow more successful, you can help your network. Hopefully, as others in your network gain more success, they’ll want to help you out.
When you get opportunities, don’t turn your nose up. If the topic and readership or viewership are relevant to your brand, make the connection, even if it feels small or insignificant.
Take time to in your digital footprint.
If you want to win at PR, you need a digital footprint, and digital footprints aren’t created overnight. They take time. The best marketing and PR strategies are the ones that companies have invested in for a long time. Want to create a winning PR strategy? Here’s the recipe:
It’s not sexy, but it’s the honest answer. It takes time to create a value-driven strategy, and the only way you’ll be able to reach an audience is to show up consistently over a long period of time. Leaders expect B2B marketing and B2B PR to generate traction for their brand instantly, but this is rarely the case. Consistency is far more important than virality.
You know what a bottle of Coca-Cola looks like, right? In fact, your parents, grandparents, and maybe even your great-grandparents knew what a bottle of Coca-Cola looked like off the top of their heads. The iconic red labels on curvy bottles with the scrolling, curling logo are well-known across the world. Everyone knows about Coca-Cola! But did you know that they spend $4 billion a year on advertising? They’re one of the most ubiquitous brands in the world, but they’re still spending billions (plural!) of dollars on reaching their intended audience.
What can smaller brands learn from this? No matter how successful or well-known you may be, you should take a long-term approach to marketing, PR, and advertising. A single digital campaign isn’t going to make you an international leader in your industry. Take time to build your digital footprint and offer value to your ideal customers. It’s here that you’ll find success.
Want to win at the PR game? Get started now. Build your network, invest time and money in your strategy when you can, and say yes to opportunities that come your way, no matter how small you perceive them to be.
To explore this topic more, and get even more PR tips, watch the webinar.
If you’re ready to hand off your brand’s marketing and PR to the experts, send us a note. We’ll help you build value, show up consistently, and play the long game for ultimate success.