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When bringing in a New Year, it’s common to conduct self-assessments: As a professional, you may evaluate what endeavors within the last 12 months have worked well, and how to improve upon them.
In the PR industry, making improvements isn’t really about undergoing dramatic overhauls. It’s about reviewing how often you’re effectively incorporating traditional PR with non-traditional messaging strategies. Which of the emerging practices deliver the most value impact, when paired with the more time-tested ones? Which fall flat?
None of the following tactics/ideas are particularly revolutionary or profound, but when wisely integrated into standard PR practices such as press release distribution and reporter calls – they combine to elevate a relatively static campaign into a dynamic, effective one:
Proactive social media exchanges. When users post positive feedback on a client’s page after rolling out an IT solution, that’s wonderful. And the PR account teams responsible for promoting the solution and overseeing the page should make sure there’s a “real” response provided to call greater attention to the praise, as well as encourage ongoing dialogue. And when there’s critical commentary? The same rule applies – even more so. The PR team must constantly monitor client sites for negative remarks, to quickly turnaround these impressions by demonstrating an emphatic, meaningful response. Keep in mind that you’re not looking to simply change one person’s opinion here. You’re seeking to influence the sentiments of all users on the page who may be sympathetic to that disgruntled user.
Awards. At other PR agencies, I’ve found that submitting award nominations to press publications can amount to a rather rote exercise. You get a nomination. You discuss details with the client as to what the nomination should include. You write it up, sometimes simply copy/pasting/editing pre-written boilerplate or, worse, someone’s LinkedIn profile. At our high-tech PR agency, we take a more inventive, pro-active approach. Every award nomination presents an opportunity to tell a story about our clients’ ability to innovate and make tremendous impact upon customers in private industry and/or the military and Intelligence Community. We strive to craft every award nomination summary as a compelling, results-driven narrative, instead of a laundry list of accomplishments. Because there are so many good stories behind what our clients do, we’re in touch with editorial members of the publications giving the awards throughout the year. With this degree of close contact, the publication will often end up writing about the client story earlier in the year. So, by the time nominations are submitted, the judges are well familiar with the significance of the clients’ work. We’ve found that this goes a long way toward eventually getting the honor.
Roundtables. Setting up a roundtable with analysts, customers and client executives takes more planning and legwork than a standard media interview. But the payoff will be considerable, as you’ve created an “event” in which the whole (the roundtable) is even greater than the sum of its valuable parts (individual participant commentary). Tony Welz, principal and co-founder of W2 Communications, will go into more depth about roundtable best practices in an upcoming blog here.
Road less traveled. Because we’re always helping our client executives emerge as high-profile, respected Thought Leaders within their industries, we’ll incorporate a number of best practices to get them to this level of recognition. It advances their careers, and it elevates their company’s brand awareness/reputation. When there is a new product/solution to promote, we’ll pursue in-depth discussions to take the messaging beyond simply “vendor promotional speak.” We’ll often encourage the client to develop positions on various tech trends out there that present a contrarian view to the current convention thinking within, say, a content marketing piece. In many cases, we find that editors at publications are much more likely to include an executive in a story if the comments go against the grain, as opposed to echoing what the choir has already said.
Surveys. A highly effective way to get your clients into the news is to make the news yourself. That’s where surveys enter the picture. Pinpoint a relevant, compelling industry topic that relates to the client’s product/solution and conduct a scientifically valid survey around it. Make sure there are a couple “grabber” questions – the kind that media members latch upon because they make for a traffic-generating headline. (My colleague, Joyson Cherian, will weigh in on the ‘how to’ behind surveys, also in a future blog here.)
Recycle. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you produce something for a client. Always look to take existing content and repurpose it into another format. In many cases, you can recast a press release as a case study, blog or podcast. You can transform a series of blogs and trade-press byliners into a white paper. And you can break out a white paper’s sections into stand-alone pieces to come up with a blog series. As indicated, none of these practices represents the stuff of rocket science. Each one is a tool which you can use throughout the year to distinguish your client’s message. At W2 Communications, we pride ourselves on our ability to stay high on the media radar screen through these and other methods. If that sounds like something that would benefit your organization, feel free to reach out to us.
@LeachPR Chris Leach is an account director at W2 Communications.