Why You Absolutely Do Need PR To Succeed
Public relations is the most effective and least expensive way to build your brand, grow your business and establish you as a go-to expert in your field. Whether or not you should launch a media relations campaign should not be the question, because the answer to that is a no-brainer; yes you should. The real question is how are you going to do that? Your best bet is to bring on a firm or media consultant who can chart your marketing course for you and launch your campaign. But whatever avenue you choose, the following points apply.
Don’t think that a PR, media relations or publicity campaign comes down to spamming the media with press releases and pitches. The media is inundated with press releases. They’re not looking for releases; they’re looking for good stories. Simply sending out a release is not going to do the trick.
Press releases do have other uses nowadays. They are no longer pitches that you simply send to the media. With blogs, forums, social media and online press release services you can now use your releases to directly reach your customer. In fact, that is probably the biggest value that a press release posted online has for a small company. Chances are slim that the traditional media will react to an online press release, but it will help with your SEO and it is a direct way for you to reach customers. One note of warning, do not post a press release on a blog site or forum in a press release format. You might want to take some of that information and post in it a conversational way. But posting a standard press release on a blog or social media site will generally backfire on you. Your best bet is to comment on blogs, forums, social media sites or forums, but don’t pitch your product or service. Talk about your field in general. Educate, give some tips but don’t try and sell.
When you do decide to give PR a shot, remember you’re not Google or American Express. Don’t try to impress the media by trying to launch a campaign or a story the way a huge corporation would. For example, unless there is a truly compelling reason, my suggestion is that you stay away from embargoes and exclusives. Those are only utilized in certain situations and if you don’t understand the process it can end up backfiring on you. To clarify, an embargo is an agreement with certain media outlets where they agree not to publish or release a story before an agreed upon date and time. An exclusive is an agreement to give your story to only one media outlet. There are times these are important arrangements to make with the media, but chances are you’ll rarely run into one.
Remember that the media world has greatly expanded. Traditional media outlets such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Today Show and CNN still offer you the type of exposure, validation and credibility that no other form of marketing can offer, but that is not where PR stops. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, Digg, blogs, all of these are now a part of the media landscape and ignore them at your peril. For example, if your local newspaper runs a story on you or your company, post a link to that story on the various social media sites. This is a way for you to turn a local story into a national story. Also utilize the power of YouTube. Shoot a short video about you, your company or your service. But don’t make it a sales video. You’re not trying to run a commercial here; your job is to communicate with your prospective clients and customers. Make a video where you illustrate how to solve a problem, answer questions, add value to the lives of those who watch the video. If you’re going to use PR to sell anything, don’t sell your product or service. Sell your value.