Whoever wants to address the press in an efficient and effective manner needs media training to do so. This certainly applies to company representatives that conduct day-to-day media relations — they typically have the title of ‘spokesperson’ on their business cards — but also to members of higher management such as the President or CEO. Members of the C-suite are frequently called upon to face the media whenever there is important news to convey to key stakeholder groups.

Companies that take professional spokesmanship seriously understand that whoever has received media training in the past can and should still take periodical refresher trainings. Nothing turns off a public — whether it’s shareholders during difficult financial times or rabid fans of a product that is getting a major update — faster than an executive bumbling through basic questions, appearing to be arrogant or indifferent or just plain unprepared.

What follows are tips and tricks for any company to consider when planning and executing a media training event.

Group Size: Typically more than one person will receive media training. The cost of having a media trainer conduct a training is for the most part a fixed cost and organizations will get a bigger bang for their buck if they invite several executives to the training. The typical size of a media training group is four in order to allow for everybody to have time to practice at least once on video (for a half day session) or to improve their performance on subsequent takes (for a full day session).

Functional Oversight: Ideally group members would be situated in the same skills brackets for media training. Product experts would get trained on how to approach product related interviews. Jony Ive, Chief Design Officer of Apple, would for example be called upon to speak to product design and functionality, as might a senior VP of marketing and any PR spokespersons focused on product launches. This ensures key participants can add their own complementary viewpoint to any discussion on message finetuning.

Peer-to-Peer: try to prevent a media training for employees with their superiors. Nobody likes to make mistakes in front of a boss for fear of getting a poor performance evaluation. People are far less likely to take risks and truly grow if they feel a mistake could cost them a raise or promotion. And trust me, mistakes will be made if the media trainer does his or her job well.

Trainee research: It’s the job of the media trainer to learn about the past experiences of the trainees and set proper expectations. The trainer should reach out to each prospective spokesperson at least two weeks prior to the training in order to map out a lesson plan that closely matches the real-world scenarios the group might face: quarterly financial calls with analysts and reporters, product recall interviews on MSNBC, media briefings during a crisis.

Mock Interviews: these are media training practice sessions where a company executive gets grilled on camera as though it were a live interview. Theory and open discussions are one thing, but actually sitting in the proverbial “hot seat” with the camera rolling is quite another. It’s as much about managing one’s own stress as it is about putting interview techniques into practice. It takes practice to become a trusted spokesperson for the company.

Interview Themes: when conducting media training, it’s also very important to make the interview as realistic as possible for each individual trainee. Say for example you are a CEO of a food company and you have to brief reporters about a case of salmonella that resulted in the death of two people and sickness of another eight. These are very real possibilities impacting companies and can have a significant financial impact on the bottom line if not handled properly. Just think of Blue Bell Creameries, which literally had to suspend its operations for several months while it dealt with a listeria outbreak. The financial future of the company is still very uncertain. Had the executive team handled the crisis better the outcome would have been much less dire.

Accountability: alas, some media trainers don’t go to the same lengths to prepare company representatives for the training, which is unfortunate. Make sure there is accountability within the corporate communications group or outside provider to ensure the time spent on training is as productive and effective as possible. Consider asking for a training checklist to make sure the training is well planned and executed. Conversely, make sure that the executives and other prospective spokespersons are themselves properly prepared for the training, which includes ensuring they are 100% focused on the training (no cell phone interruptions).

Survey: an easy step to overlook is feedback. Consider using an online survey to gain insight on how well the training went from your internal customer’s perspective. Do you need to modify the video interview scenarios to make them “real” for different executives. Was the live camera coaching relevant enough to help your executives put into use what they learned during the lecture portion of the class?

This is a first selection of basic building blocks for a successful media training. In the second and last post we will discuss among other things how to build in an efficient flow in the training session, how to organize surprise and ambush interviews and what kind of leave-behind material is useful for trainees.


 

About Jo Detavernier: Jo is a partner in Manzer Communications, an Austin tech PR agency specializing in communications & strategic inbound marketing for startups and fast-growth businesses in 2009. Jo has given media training to over 200 executives from many industries and backgrounds and loves to help people learn to handle the toughest interviews imaginable. If you have any PR or content marketing questions about your business, feel free to tweet him at @jodetavernier or email him at jo(at)manzercommunications(dot)com.

This is a continuation from last week’s post where I gave the reasoning behind  getting your brand into fighting shape with content marketing. This installment gives you some concrete tips on how to begin flexing your muscles to get your brand more buff in the eyes of prospective clients.

I recommend you follow three of the following content marketing exercises at a minimum:

Blogging: you should keep a blog for your business and write for it at least weekly, if not more frequently. As you blog, you can embed a URL to link back to pages on your business website. “Backlinks,” as they’re known in SEO parlance, tell Google your website is of value and should be ranked higher than those without backlinks. Blogging frequency is important for two reasons: 1) it creates lots of backlinks from your blog to the website and 2) it builds an audience of readers who, over time, will share your blog with others and become advocates of your content. Blogging platforms include WordPress, Tumblr, Medium and Blogger.

Contributed Articles: find a trade magazine, business blog or local news outlet and ask the editor if you can contribute an article about something that relates to your business expertise in some form or fashion. Next, ask the editor if you can place an embedded URL into a phrase of your bio allowing you to get a valuable backlink to your website for the keyword you are seeking to optimize. A personal trainer might want to use the phrase “Seattle personal trainer for moms” for the backlink.

Comment on Blogs: another way you can gain quality backlinks – meaning they come from a reputable website with some relevance to your industry or topic of interest – is to read other blogs and make comments with a reference to your business website. Some blogs will frown on a backlink to your website so consider a backlink to your blog where you talk about similar topics in hopes that the breadcrumbs eventually lead back to your website.

YouTube: start a YouTube channel this year as a way to drive clicks, buzz and backlinks. Don’t worry about creating elaborate scripts and paying thousands of dollars for professional videographers. Sometimes the most viral of videos look like they were taken by a smartphone without regard to make-up, lights and elaborate props. Just keep at it, create enjoyable content, and eventually you will be rewarded. After all, I owe Canyonman1963 my life for showing me how easy it is to replace a lid switch on a Kenmore washing machine! Because Google owns YouTube, the powerful search engine includes videos in the search results of key words and phrases.

Twitter: use the popular microblogging platform to send out offers, links to your blog, etc. It creates another source of inbound traffic to your online assets, some of which will enhance your search engine rankings while others will boost the credibility of your brand, eventually leading to new customer leads. Don’t forget to use hashtags like #FitnessAdvice #MomFitness to jump on popular terms or trending news.

LinkedIn: don’t overlook the stodgy old network of business professionals as a way to spread news about your brand’s events, offers and accomplishments. By now, you should already have a company LinkedIn profile; if you don’t, it’s not too late to start. Any time you have a blog post, feel free to post it to LinkedIn Groups you belong to in hopes of driving more traffic and brand awareness. I have a PR over Coffee Group, which I launched in support of that organization’s events, blog posts and general networking. Every time I post to my blog or have an article picked up in PRDaily or another media outlet, I invariably post it to LinkedIn.

Facebook: one effective way to grow your content marketing muscles is to promote your content – blog posts, videos, etc. – through a boosted post on Facebook. While I still hate Facebook for monetizing what used to be free, the new service does come with enhanced features like micro-targeting demographics. A fitness coach in Seattle show likes to work with kids could target women between the ages of 25 – 50 in the Seattle area in hopes of reaching lots of Moms who want their kids to spend less time gaming and more time playing games outdoors.

eBook: consider writing an eBook to boost your though leadership bona fides. This is especially effective for providers of professional services like marketing, consulting, PR and even fitness. Writing an eBook can help you earn paid speaking engagements and quotes in the media about trending stories. It tells the world you sat down and worked long and hard to come up with enough content to fill up a book’s worth of knowledge. Plus, being an eBook, you can embed links back to your online assets to help you with your inbound marketing strategy.

eNewsletter: another way to work out those content marketing muscles is to create a weekly or monthly eNewsletter, which combines the best aspects of drip marketing and content marketing. People love tips and helpful content and an eNewsletter keeps you top-of-mind for their future buying decisions.

Brand Journalism: this is the equivalent of body building in the world of content marketing. Your aim is to create generous amounts of content for your website such that it has some of the the look-and-feel of a media outlet. You probably need to hire on somebody with strong editorial experience, either as a full-time employee or 3rd party provider. The goal is the create an extra-strong perception of credibility, reliability and integrity among a broad base of constituents: customers, prospects, influencers and media. Along the way, you become a champion content body builder capable of flexing even the most obscure brand muscles. A startup I think does a great job of brand journalism is SpareFoot, which did a very smart thing and hired long-time business writer and editor, John Egan, to edit, write and curate content for its blog.

White Papers: those tried-and-true brand exercises still work. White papers work well as click-bait and generate solid business leads. My advice? Format them a bit more like “listicles” and keep them on the short-side, no more than 5-10 pages, full of call-out boxes and graphics to make the piece easy to consume. And, of course, be sure to insert a call-to-action to plant a seed for a future inquiry. See an this white paper we launched recently on how startups can get into TechCrunch.

These content marketing ideas should put you on the path to turning your brand into a body building behemoth. Ideally, you will choose to blog or vlog (video-log) on a frequent basis. Social media platforms need pretty regular nurturing, too, if you hope to win enough followers who are willing to share your wisdom, wit and timely observations.

Don’t underestimate the value of contributed articles as this is the gold standard of a search engine optimization strategy, which is to place a backlink to your website in a highly trafficked, relevant website. Backlinks from 2nd and 3rd tier blogs are a good start and build your portfolio over time.

Now it’s your turn. Will you start exercising your content marketing muscles and finally turn that couch potato website into something Arnold Schwarzenegger would be proud of?

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded Manzer Communications, an Austin tech PR agency specializing in communications & strategic inbound marketing for startups and fast-growth businesses in 2009. If you have any PR or content marketing questions about your business, feel free to tweet him at @davemanzer or drop email him at dave(at)manzercommunications(dot)com.

You hear a lot about content marketing these days from all quarters.

Savvy marketers have long espoused the value of blogging for a brand. PR professionals are wringing their hands over the demise of traditional media and wondering how their story-telling skills translate into the click-through economy. Media owners are jumping on the content marketing bandwagon by offering more flash-in-the-pan articles and sponsored content to drive clicks and ad revenue for their online assets.

Bottom line: content marketing, combined with a good PR strategy, can help you get to the top of organic search engine results like nothing else out there.

Why, you ask, is it so important to get to the top of search engines? Take Google as an example. There are approximately 100 billion searches on Google every month, which means 3 billion searches happen every day as consumers look for information on all kinds of topics — including product and services research in advance of a purchase.

Say for instance you are a personal trainer in Seattle, Washington. If I lived in Seattle and needed a trainer I might look up “Seattle Personal Training” to check out reviews of trainers and hopefully narrow down my search. Thing is, I’m a lot more likely to look closely at the trainers I see on the first page of results then glance at the top of the second page. If you’re on the third page you might as well be in Siberia, not Seattle. The average consumer is way too impatient to keep looking.

Translation: you really need to be on the first page of search results for certain relevant key words. Getting to the top three is priceless and probably yields 3x the number of clicks than any others on the list (according to my very unscientific estimation).

So how can you become a master of content marketing in order drive more qualified leads from search engines? After all, you’re not an SEO wizard or you wouldn’t be reading this.

Just like a personal trainer will tell you about getting your body into shape, it simply takes practice and consistency. If you don’t use your muscles, they atrophy. If you don’t practice content marketing, your digital brand atrophies. Neglecting to exercise your content marketing muscles at least several times per week will turn your brand into the equivalent of thunder thighs and double chins. When you’re getting the once-over by a prospective customer, don’t you want your brand to look its best and stand out from the crowd?

I’m not trying to fat shame any brands into action, just call their attention to a need to flex those content marketing muscles, especially if the goal for the upcoming year is to enjoy healthy, sustainable growth.

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded Manzer Communications, an Austin tech PR agency specializing in communications & strategic inbound marketing for startups and fast-growth businesses in 2009. If you have any PR or content marketing questions about your business, feel free to tweet him at @davemanzer or drop email him at dave(at)manzercommunications(dot)com.

Blogs number in the hundreds of millions on the Internet, and there are millions of blog posts each and every day on platforms like WordPress, Tumblr, LiveJournals, Blogster.

With such a massive number of blogs jockeying for attention on the Internet you would think that starting and running your own blog would be the equivalent of trying to be heard in the middle of a hurricane standing next to a passing freight train during a Seattle Seahawks game. And yet you would be wrong.

A surprisingly small percentage of those 100s of millions of blogs actually post with any predictable frequency – despite the incredible benefits an active blog can bring to a brand.

Perhaps more important, a blog for most brands is less about being heard by millions and more about being heard by the few hundred or thousand readers that really matter – existing customers, motivated prospects, influencers like industry journalists or media critics.

So with that in mind, here are the top 25 reasons you should start (and keep) blogging for your brand at least weekly, if not 2-3 times per week:

  1. Buyer advice: 61% of consumers made a purchase based on advice or a recommendation from blogs [courtesy of Ignitespot].
  2. Landing page: a blog post can be an ideal landing page for your next marketing promotion.
  3. [In]Credible: blog consistently and long enough and eventually you will be viewed as an [in]credible source of information about your industry.
  4. SEO: that all encompassing term for getting your brand to the top of the search engines for certain key terms which are related to your business offerings; blogs are a backbone of search engine optimization strategies.
  5. Lead gen: small businesses with active blogs generate 126% more leads than ones without [courtesy of Ignitespot].
  6. Announcements: you can make announcements like industry awards, new hires, promotions and customer wins.
  7. Test message: marketers can test the impact of a new brand message with the blog.
  8. Social media integration: blogs provide a way to engage customers and various publics seeking interesting information on social networks.
  9. Product launches: a product launch is a multi-faceted initiative involving everything from product slicks to an email campaign; the blog should be integrated into the campaign to provide additional information outside the scope of a product brochure or press release.
  10. Brand personality: blogs help shape a brand’s personality in ways few other media can, if only because its tabula rasa layout allows you to post text, pictures, videos and even audio; the frequency of your posts helps you solidify or evolve your brand personality as time goes on.
  11. Press releases: don’t want to send your release out on the Wire? Try posting them to the blog instead; it’ll save money and still pay dividends for your SEO strategy.
  12. Sales promotions: got a seasonal promotion or a fire sale to move some inventory? Use the blog to support the email blast that you send out to customers and prospects.
  13. Apologies: every now and then a company screws up and has to issue an apology; blogs are the perfect place for that because you control the message and medium.
  14. Instructions: you can share how-to advice and instructional videos on blogs.
  15. Event: use your blog to tell followers about an upcoming event, party or celebration.
  16. Guest posts: a blog allows you to solicit contributions from other experts and could lead to alliances that pay off in the future.
  17. Trust: 81% of US consumers trust advice from blogs [courtesy of Ignitespot].
  18. Thought leadership: in the past you often had to write a book to be considered a thought leader in a particular space; nowadays, a really active blog accomplishes the same thing.
  19. Reviews: you can use a blog to do product reviews of your own products.
  20. Review income: some bloggers make money from writing reviews about products.
  21. Ad revenue: blogs that have lots of views every month can make money by getting paid for ad placements.
  22. Kick the tires: blogs are perfect for pre-sales activity in that prospects can get over the ‘know-like-trust’ barrier to making a purchase.
  23. Content Marketing: 37% of marketers believe blogs are the most important part of a content marketing strategy [courtesy of Ignitespot]; you can add my name to that list.
  24. Savings: blogs are an affordable way to spread awareness of your brand, especially compared to traditional advertising (but then anything is cheap compared to buying ads).
  25. Media coverage: a well-executed blog may get picked up by another blog or media outlet with a ton of Internet traffic, leading to more attention to your brand, traffic to your site and higher search engine rankings.

Want to start a blog for your brand? It’s actually really easy to get started. It’s also very easy to fail. You may want to address these items before starting:

  • Use a blogging tool that is easy to use and maintain.
  • Find free photos/images and be sure to ascribe what you use back to the source; or consider using your own photos to add a little originality and fun to the blog.
  • Create an editorial calendar to make sure you don’t run out of content and aren’t constantly searching for new ideas the night before a deadline.
  • Assign blogging responsibilities and hold bloggers accountable to deadlines.
  • If your website has a blog post plug-in, strongly consider using it as it will help add links and traffic to your business website.
  • Never give up!

Do you have any ideas to add to the conversation? Please feel free to comment.

For many tech startups in Silicon Valley, and other tech hotspots like Austin, Boston and Seattle, the allure of getting into a popular tech media outlet like TechCrunch is too strong to pass up. In fact, when startup founders think about getting into the ‘news,’ it is often the implied target. And for good reason. With over 12 million unique visitors, TechCrunch is the undisputed Everest of tech media.

For those not already familiar with its history, J. Michael Arrington and Keith Teare co-founded TechCrunch in 2005 as an early player in a new crop of online publications totally dedicated to covering tech startups and their founders. What set TechCrunch apart from the other tech-focused media was its record of reporting breaking news before others could – especially high-profile funding announcements. Courtesy of a stable of prolific (sometimes irreverent) tech writers, TechCrunch eventually cemented its status as ‘king-maker’ in the eyes of the tech world.

The benefits of getting into TechCrunch may be universally known in the tech community but nevertheless here is a quick overview:

  • Startup buzz
  • First-mover advantage
  • Website traffic
  • Downloads
  • Investor awareness
  • Social sharing

With benefits like these it should not come as a surprise that getting into TechCrunch is a daunting task for a vast majority of startups. It used to be that if you raised a million dollar seed round you stood a good chance of getting a write-up. Nowadays, in the era of massive seed rounds, celebrity founders and unicorn valuations, the bar has risen higher than ever before.

But don’t despair. I have written a white paper that gives you the whole truth and nothing but the truth on how startups can leverage trends, titles and technology to improve their shot at getting to the top of the Mt. Everest of tech media. To download the white paper, please request one here now.

Uncle SamHiring the right PR agency to lead your communications initiative – both internal and external – can lead to many positive results for a business. From increased brand awareness and more website traffic to motivated employees and industry accolades, PR promotes the best of what a company represents, and even inspires others to rally to the brand.

Hiring a PR agency at the wrong time, however, can result in in a catastrophic failure amounting to lost money, productivity and disillusionment in PR’s ability to grow a business and its brand awareness.

The bottom-line is it pays to know when the optimal time is to hire a PR agency. With that in mind, I have listed some scenarios below that could justify talking with, if not actually hiring, a PR agency.

Startup funding: we work extensively with startups in technology, and even in consumer and healthcare, and very often a funding event occurs early on to help them scale rapidly. One of the best ways to reach a mass audience and motivate early adopters is through aggressive and ongoing PR.

Time to pitch: anytime a new business launches, there is potential to interest the local, national and trade media. Even the smallest of small businesses — yogurt shops, pet groomers, cross fit gyms — can get covered in hyper-local media outlets.

Expansion: if you are a retail store expanding to more locations or a healthcare company like a heart clinic adding a new location and doctors to the practice then you should share that news with local media outlets. A PR agency can refine your message, herd the media to your doorstep and keep you in the spotlight for longer than you can on your own.

Merger or acquisition: when a company enters into a merger or decides to acquire another company then it may have achieved a margin of success that deserves ongoing media outreach. The messaging around mergers and acquisitions needs to be managed so that the positives get emphasized while the possible negatives get put into proper perspective. The last thing you want is the media focused on possible lay-offs or office shutdowns.

Best in class: if your company strives for quality and wants a reputation as a leader in the industry then PR can help. By reaching out to key media outlets –- for example, gaming blogs and magazines if you are a game design startup –- you can improve your chances of getting into the “Best of” or “Top 10” lists that people pay so much attention to these days. How else do you think a relatively unknown barbecue pitmaster like Austin’s Aaron Franklin, founder of Franklin Barbecue, became an overnight sensation leading to a kind of rock-star status, appearances on the Jimmy Kimmel Live, a show on PBS, a successful cook book? To be the best of the best you have to do a little shake-and-bake with the media, and PR is your instrument of choice.

Rapid growth: your company has enjoyed rapid growth and all signs point to ongoing economic success in the form of hiring, investments and profitability. Now is the time to double-down on your overall marketing strategy with a PR campaign aimed at solidifying your reputation. Failing to do that means you give your competition dibs on snagging the glory and owning customer mindshare. In no business book does it say to lose the battle of public opinion to your rival.

Million-dollar baby: there really isn’t a good line in the economic sand to determine the best time to hire a PR agency. I have seen companies earning less that $400 thousand annually pursue a robust PR initiative as part of a calculated strategy to grow revenue and market share. Generally speaking, however, if your company earns north of $1 million annually, then you can probably afford to spend some of your marketing budget on PR as part of an overall growth strategy that should include both inbound and outbound marketing.

Workforce effectiveness: another key objective of PR is to help with internal communications. When you have a workforce in excess of 250 then you are probably inching toward a critical mass that requires you to communicate with employees on a variety of topics: training, safety, hiring, benefits, productivity tips, etc. A PR agency can help you immensely by formalizing your communications with thoughtful, well-composed content. Need to lower workplace injuries, increase sales performance, locate more talent? PR can help with that!

Competitors: if your competition is eating your lunch in the media then it may be time to take their lunch money with a PR strategy of your own. PR is often viewed as a branding exercise, and it does serve to promote a brand, but keep in mind that when consumers research their purchases, they often dip into their recent memories about brands that made a favorable impression. PR excels at winning hearts-and-minds, whipping up passion, and planting semi-conscious cravings in far less time and for much less money than most advertising or marketing campaigns.

Crisis: last, but certainly not least, when something bad happens that impacts the general public, and media catches wind, you could easily have a reputation meltdown if you don’t take immediate and decisive action. Some agencies and PR consultants specialize in crisis communications, while others offer it as part of their overall strategy. Whatever you do, be sure the person you are about to hire is an authentic expert in the field of crisis communications (like our own Libba Letton!) or you may end up regretting the decision. Finally, crisis communications will likely cost a premium simply because it’s an all-hands-on-deck situation requiring around-the-clock reputation monitoring in all forms of media — print, TV, social, radio, digital.

These and many more scenarios justify using some of your hard-earned resources in a sustained PR initiative designed to grow your business, seed the market and generally dominate media buzz in a given industry or market.

Got some ideas worth sharing? Please feel free to tweet about this post or comment below.

Journalists I interview as part of my PR over Coffee community in Austin report having to sort through hundreds of emails daily – literally hundreds. On Mondays when they come back to the office that number often doubles. This means you have mere seconds to stop a journalist in his or her tracks in hopes of getting a second, longer look.

The only way to get a journalist to not hit the delete key is by having a carefully worded, high-impact email subject line.

Here are some thoughts and examples of email subjects that pack a punch and might cause a journalist to take a closer look at your news announcement.

 

Short: keep your email subject line short and to the point; basically no more than 8-12 words.

Example: Mobile health app predicts heart attacks, sends 911 alerts

 

Punch: add some punch to your email pitch with a subject that relies upon hard-hitting action verbs.

Example: Snow blower maker plows through revenue goals after record snowfall

 

Verbal vigor: consider using alliteration (words beginning with the same letter/sound in close proximity) to make the subject stand out.

Example: Austin Chocolatier to serve chocolate cherry ganache at Presidential Inauguration

 

Local, local, local: if you are trying to get the media to cover you in your own community then point out in your email subject line that you are a local company or mention the community by name.

Example: Local home builder to break ground on development in southwest suburb

 

Provocative: be as edgy as possible given your topic and audience. I’m not suggesting you say anything inappropriate. But saying something too conservative or tepid won’t arrest a busy journalist’s attention.

Example: New luxury car rental company promises zero crappy car policy at LAX

 

Deadline: if there’s a deadline or event date then mention it in hopes of getting the journalist to take action.

Example: Annual Take Back the Night marathon and candlelight vigil set for March 15

 

Name drop: sure, why not? If there’s a well-recognized name associated with your news announcement like a tech company getting funding from Mark Cuban then jump on it!

Example: PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel joins board e-commerce startup Xzap

 

Don’t sell: what I mean by this is don’t sound like you are selling something; you are trying to sell a story idea, not a used car.

Example: Enjoy “Chocolate Stout Night for Singles” on Valentine’s Day at Draft house

 

Relevance: try to capture the essences of why your news should be shared with a journalist’s audience. Pitching a college-related publication like U.S. News & World Report – Education on a new mobile app for college students? Mention something about the app’s ability to help students’ in their studies, find dates, travel abroad, etc.

Example: 25% of students in study abroad programs lack the proper insurance

 

Final tip: don’t be afraid to spend time on getting the subject line just right. Run it by your colleagues, staff and even friends and family. Come up with a subject that will stop the journalist in his or her tracks and you’ll win that coveted 2nd look every time.

Got a few left hooks and right jabs you want to share to help others create knock-out subject lines?

PR means a lot of things to a lot of people these days. For some, it means putting ads in newspapers. For others, PR involves social media and blogging. Others think of PR as placing quotes and securing interviews in print, online or TV news by “legitimate” reporters guided by an editorial staff.

So who’s right? And what are the goals of PR anyway?

Turns out everybody’s right in some form or fashion – except for the one about buying ads in a newspaper, which (last time I checked) is still called advertising.

PR informs brand awareness in so many mediums and formats that it defies easy categorization: blogs, Twitter, magazines, listicles, forums, speaking opportunities, TV news, Facebook, print newspapers, tech trades. The list goes on.

The lines between PR and marketing have blurred in recent years in large part because the Internet has created new ways for a brand to engage with various audiences. Ten years ago PR limited its professional reach to the media, which is to say engaging with the media in hopes of getting them to say favorable things about a brand.

Today’s PR professional is as likely to pitch a reporter at the Wall Street Journal as create a series of tweets supporting a product launch in advance of SXSW or write a contributed article for a trade publication or boost a post on Facebook promoting an upcoming event.

Whereas marketing is about filling a sales funnel with leads and clicks, PR is about getting a future buyer passionate about a brand after learning about it from a variety of “objective-leaning” sources.

So while the goals of PR are many all come back to a desire to grow awareness for a brand by building its credibility, reputation and authenticity.

The results of a PR campaign can and should be measurable, encompassing some of the following:

 

  • Website clicks: every PR campaign should result in additional clicks to your website or another online assets
  • Social media: there should plenty of social engagement which lead to tweets, Facebook posts likes, LinkedIn visibility, even Instagram likes
  • Traffic: PR can stimulate good old-fashioned foot traffic and phone calls for a retail or services company
  • Speaking: one goal of PR is still to book speaking opportunities as part of a thought leadership campaign
  • Expert quotes: solicited interviews and expert quotes happen when a PR thought leadership campaign creates relationships with media outlets interested in content related to a brand
  • Industry, business and community awards: accolades in the form of awards bolster a brand’s credibility and put it in the eye of potential customers and media.

 

The last goal of PR is perhaps the most important? Revenue growth!

Caveat: every dime you spend cannot be tied directly to specific leads. This isn’t sales, after all. What you will notice over time, however, is an incremental growth in revenue due to the influence PR has on your brand. Nothing fires up interest in a brand, be it a product or a person, like glowing coverage in the news and its corresponding buzz in social media.

The extent to which a brand benefits from sustained PR is not only determined by how skillful the PR campaign is built and executed but also by how daring a brand is at courting attention through its various marketing activities.

So now you know that the end goal of PR is nothing short of your business’ growth and market domination through the skillful use of stories that media and customers can get excited about.

What happens next is up to you.