Long before the technology boom, we followed newspaper headlines, tuned into radios, and waited to hear the latest news. Public Relations (PR) success was measured by front page stories and how many headlines could be attained. There was no internet or social media with breaking stories.
With technology at every turn, your voice is measured in real-time. Managing your voice and understanding the effectiveness of your reach has changed.
Vice President of BLASTmedia, Kimberly Jefferson, explains how to navigate the changed world of PR in 2020. She shares why smaller businesses need to understand how to manage their voice, and how effective communication will pay-off in the long term.
THE MISPERCEPTIONS OF PR AND HOW IT HAS CHANGED
Oftentimes people think media relations or PR is just putting out press releases. And if that’s your strategy, then I would say you’re not doing PR. You’re just issuing press releases, which basically anyone can do. — Kimberly Jefferson
The misconception is that PR is just putting out press releases. A press release is a piece of collateral that gives information. It’s important to be a thought leader versus putting out press releases about your company and what you’re doing. If that’s your strategy, then that’s not doing PR.
Technological advances have changed delivery channels. CEOs surveyed about the most valuable communication strategies ranked shared media (social media and online influencers) and owned media (original content distributed through their company’s channels) as the most valuable.
Your strategy should consider how you can use these channels and non-traditional channels to find share of voice. Newsrooms are shrinking, which hurts us all a bit, but there’s a huge opportunity elsewhere, in other channels like podcasts.
IDENTIFY AND PRIORITIZE YOUR AUDIENCE
Similar to marketing, when forming a PR strategy, it is crucial to consider your audience. When you are creating your strategy, these four audiences are a great starting point.
To prioritize, rank these audiences in the order of importance in the moment.
Are you fundraising right now? If so, investors are top priority. Are you recruiting? If so, you need employer branding so that you’re speaking to the candidates you’re trying to recruit.
Customers are at the top of this list because most agree that customers rank the highest. Taking time to find customer success stories is important because it’s good when customers tell stories on your behalf. To find the most impactful stories, draw from your most successful segments and segments that you’d like to target. For more, Learn the Value of Stories in Business.
A COMMON PITFALL IN PR
In today’s climate, a lot of people are attempting to capitalize on the crisis, appearing as if they want to help, but using the pandemic as a lead generation tool.
Every business is beholden to investors, employees, and customers to keep their lights on right now. You have to keep selling, but don’t capitalize. It’s vital to connect with your customers in an empathetic way.
To avoid common pitfalls in the midst of a crisis:
- Realize that when tensions are high, anything you give your employees could go public.
- Look at what you are doing with a critical eye, not in a vacuum.
- Be ready to respond with empathy and facts.
HOW SMALLER COMPANIES FIND SHARE OF VOICE
Always ask yourself, ‘What’s my message?’ Position yourself either as the leader or against the leader in your industry. Every experience you give a journalist or potential customer must explain why you are different and incorporate a clear call to action. —Marc Benioff
If you feel like David up against Goliath, it is especially important to find your voice. There are a few things you have to do:
- Find your focus and drill deeply into it
- Find areas that you can own and become a thought leader
- Focus on your voice
As a friend says, “Find your niche and get rich.” What do you do better than anyone else?
From a PR perspective, look for ways you can be a source in the story for your industry. You could end up in a story with one of the Goliath’s because you are an expert in the industry. It may come in the form of a quote, but it gets you attention. Others are going to gravitate towards you and want to use your software or product.
Navigating PR can be a challenge in today’s world. Remember it is an extension of marketing. Seek out non-traditional outlets, know your niche, and find your share of voice to become a thought leader.
To hear the full conversation, check out episode 188 of Marketing Trends.