I get asked all the time, “What exactly is it that you do?” My short answer is that I manage my clients’ reputation to the public and get them media opportunities. My long answer usually confuses people to the point of regretting they ever asked. You see, for most people public relations (PR) gets put into this bucket of “Oh, so you do marketing,” and while that is somewhat true, it is also broad somewhat misses the point.
In effort to address some of the misconceptions about public relations, we created a three-part series to explain to the non-marketers of the world what exactly it is that we do and help them determine if a PR strategy is applicable for their company. Since we are a tech-focused agency, we’ve geared our presentation to the techie startup crowd, who likely need some sort of PR and have no idea where to begin.
Our first event in this series was held on May 25, and we broke down the basics: What exactly is PR? How do you know if you need it? What are the first steps? Here is a brief synopsis:
How Do I Start?
First, all companies need messaging. This is a solid few sentences that describe who your company is, what you do and what you do differently than all other similar companies. As we mentioned in our presentation, journalists want to know if you are the first or the best at what you do. If you’re neither, you might have a hard time selling yourself to the press.
I Have My Messaging. Now What?
Once you’ve established your messaging, it’s time to take it to the press. But which press, and how? The simple answer is to make a list of the news shows you watch and listen to, and the websites and publications you read. From there, pick out stories that make you think “Hey, that should have been me,” and make note of the journalist who wrote or produced the piece. This is what we refer to as a media list, and it is the first step to implementing a PR campaign.
What Say You?
Ah, the pitch. This is the reason PR agencies exist. If coming up with the right words to say to the right people at the right time were a piece of cake, we’d be out of a job. However, if you are attempting to address the media on your own, here are a few tips:
- Be brief. Five to seven sentence pitches are ideal.
- Be interesting. Start with the “meat” — you’ve got one sentence to get their attention.
- Be correct. It’s OK to share facts and data, but make sure you’ve done your research.
- Be timely. Try piggybacking on a story the journalist just wrote; play to the current news cycle.
- Be sure you are pitching the right person. There is no faster way to get crickets in your inbox than pitching someone who covers education a story about a tech data breach.
We also discussed other areas of communication that intersect with PR, like social media. We explained how to work your company’s message across many popular social platforms, and which ones are and aren’t right for certain companies. (Hint: every company needs a LinkedIn profile, but not every company needs a Facebook page.)
Part two of our series is coming up on June 29 at BOOMTOWN in Boulder. We’ve got some of the region’s top journalists attending to share tips on getting their attention, as well as some do’s and don’ts of pitching the media. If you’re interested in attending this free event, you can sign up here. For the full recap and details from our first event, check out our presentation on SlideShare.