“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”—Ben Franklin
Turn on the news tonight and you may briefly think that the sky is falling. It isn't. While some media stories love to attract our attention with grief and sorrow, the opposite can be true too. When it comes to public relations, all of the pros I know are developing positive stories about how their clients are solving problems, not making them. Is it possible for public relations experts to change today's media narrative?
Sure, one could sail through this period complaining about what's being covered by the media and what isn't. However, then what's on matters and nothing else does. This line perfectly summarizes how planning and pitching press today is more important than ever to change the current narrative landscape.
As a veteran public relations professional, I challenge you to review your public relations strategies. Based upon 20 years of experience in the public relations field, here are the top five threats to your public relations programs and corresponding solutions:
1. Not focusing on the solution
I once heard a fellow practitioner say that he couldn’t get press for a client because other stories were taking all of the air out of the room. We’ve also read for years that the pressrooms nationwide were declining in staff and stories. Despite common belief, clients who are trustworthy sources and have credible news stories or pitches maintain to secure trade and mainstream press coverage. The most effective strategy is to focus on how a message can help solve a problem and be part of a larger solution.
2. Not being of service to others
During this ego driven time, it’s a wonder when someone exclaims, “See there’s still good in the world!” Most Americans help one another when in a time of crisis. The most successful public relations pros whom I’ve met focus on how they can serve the press they pitch. It’s not about what’s in it for me, but what can I do for you. The latter, the outcome of an article is out of our hands. Sure, we have influence, but so does the surfer on the surfboard.
3. Not asking for help
There will always be public relations experts who are as skilled and experienced at doing what you’re doing. Whether they work at competing firms or are within your agency. Asking them for help will help you both. You won’t be giving your story away nor creating a conflict of interest – unless they work on a direct competitor – and may gleam insight from an outside point of view.
4. Not meeting a reasonable goal
Just because some topics are covered more than others, doesn’t mean that your topic will fare better or worse. If you don’t overpromise on coverage or underdeliver on your goals, you will set the stage for a period of growth in your press coverage. Keep in mind that the role of public relations is to help companies evolve to the public, not revolt. PR is an evolution, not a revolution.
5. Not thinking about tomorrow
The media landscape continues to change, and social media is front and center more than ever. This added exposure can be planned for utilizing strategies which allows clients to focus on the long-tail. Simple PR plans are not as effective as “what-if” strategies which taken competitor messaging and press coverage into consideration. This issue is so variable it could be a post in itself, but requires attention.
In closing, before you give your public relations the stamp of approval, be sure to address these items on an on-going basis.