I am often asked for the “secret” to good public relations and content driven marketing. The secret is: there is no secret. It’s about thoughtful preparation and good execution. There are certainly some broadly applicable tips, which I’ll share in a minute, but the most important thing to do is to keep the interests of your target audience top-of-mind. Only take on projects that will produce something of value for your target audience. Think like an editor – if your readers won’t read it, don’t do it. Too many organizations lead with self-promotional messages or vanity news. That doesn’t work.
Evolution of Media
The media landscape has changed drastically over the last decade. Publishers and magazines continue to consolidate, struggle, or worse – collapse. National and industry publications that once dominated, no longer exist. As publications shrink, remaining editors and reporters are asked to take on more to keep things going. The shift from print to online threatens some, but offers opportunities for others. The rise of interactive social media channels is just beginning to be understood and leveraged by sophisticated marketers.
Notably, forward-thinking organizations are becoming mini-publishers themselves – to drive PR, AR and content-led marketing efforts. Understanding that if you can establish yourself as the “expert” in your given field, then prospects and customers will come to you for your products and services. This is commonly referred to as “in-bound” or “content marketing”. New idea? – not necessarily, but I do have a few tips for success.
• First, identify what it is that you can offer, that no one else can. This could be your organization’s expertise in a particular industry or technology, or it could be access to your customers. Often, organizations will find that the best stories they can share are their customers’ – provided your customers are willing and able to speak publicly. Also keep in mind that there are many levels of referenceablility – you’ll find that some organizations have rules against “public” press releases or news announcements, but may participate in Webinars, tradeshows or case studies distributed on your Website.
• Next, tell a story that your target audience wants to hear. Focus on larger issues – like best practices for improving business, lessons learned in bad deployments, or insight into new industry rules or developments. People like to hear about innovative peers or similar companies that have gotten into trouble – the latter being a little more risky as you could wind up spreading fear and making potential customers look bad.
• Now, when working with the media – make it easy for them to work with you. Pre-package as much as you can up front, so that you are ready to deliver. That could mean compiling everything you may have around a certain topic: like spokespeople, press releases, bylines, video, photos, graphs and research. Also make sure your internal & external sources are prepped and ready to speak. Try to anticipate what the reporter may need to build his or her story. When a journalist is assigned a project, they typically don’t have much time to complete it, especially nowadays. Don’t waste their time – if you are easy to work with, then you might have a chance to work with that reporter again in the future.
• Be genuine. Always be honest and only promise what you can deliver. All too often people think they have to be something they are not, or worse, that they can trick a reporter into covering them. Lies and trickery may work once, but this is not a one-time zero-sum game.
That’s it. Keep it simple and good luck.