An effective public relations strategy should be a blueprint for how integrated marketing communications will advance a company’s objectives, aligned with its business goals. However, the biggest challenge is to put the strategy into action. Executing on an effective long-term public relations program is a collaborative process and arguably, depends as much on the company as it does on the public relations firm. The biggest mistake that companies make is not dedicating enough resources and time to supporting their public relations firm’s efforts.
Here are five essential things every company should do when starting a public relations program to make it a long-term success.
Use and produce industry data
First, using credible third-party data enables a company to assess its position in the market and can be used to inform and educate the media about the latest industry trends. Second, producing long-form content, such as white papers and reports about the industry can enable businesses and public relations teams to get the media’s attention. This enables businesses “to be seen” in the context of the industry and shows how a company’s work is progressing the industry and contributing to its evolution. Proprietary reports must not be self-promotional, as this will drastically impact their value with the media.
Start with a narrowly defined target audience
Deciding a primary target audience is the prerequisite for an effective media strategy. Focusing on a few, as opposed to targeting most or all audience categories, at the beginning of the program is more effective. A public relations team should conduct a thorough audience and media analysis to inform its strategy. This will aid in defining differentiation factors, messaging and pitching ideas. This way, the plan can focus on specific media targets and include pitching and thought leadership ideas that best resonate with those audiences and publications at that time.
Analyze the competition
To get ahead and stay ahead in a competitive marketplace and media cycles, it is important to continuously monitor what the competition is doing and understand what that means for your strategy. Quarterly analysis of 5-10 competitors (their press releases, media interviews, bylines, awards and recognitions) will inspire pitching ideas, inform realistic and achievable KPIs and differentiate your media strategy.
Get comfortable with expressing your opinions and forming new ones
No one wants to hear from someone who is saying the same things as everyone else in the same way. This is especially important in capturing the attention of journalists that a spokesperson is meeting for the first time when you are trying to build a relationship. By formulating and contextualizing a viewpoint and forming a differentiated opinion in response to a reporter’s question, particularly on trending topics, executives can grow their company’s share of voice and effectively establish themselves as thought leaders.
Create realistic goals
Companies that are new to public relations should set practical and achievable goals. It is also critical to direct and dedicate time and resources toward achieving those goals. Depending on the sector, media market and competitor landscape, some news cycles are easier to penetrate than others. An effective public relations strategy should include an approach that consistently produces results, putting a company on the media’s radar and then shifting to increasing its existing share of voice using relationships with reporters and providing differentiated viewpoints. While it is recommended to set KPIs at the very beginning of a public relations program, truly achievable goals can only be informed by time and an understanding of what works and what does not. Therefore, we recommend assessing and revising KPIs after the first three months and reevaluating them consistently.
By embracing these tips and acting on them throughout a marketing communications program, companies can be sure that they are doing everything they can do to empower their public relations teams to maximize media results and meet their objectives.