“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”
― Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice
Hiring a public relations professional is critical if you want your story to get written about from an editorial perspective and not just have your press release posted onto a search engine aggregator. And, don’t fall into the trap of thinking just because your last press release appeared on Yahoo! Finance did you get a lot of “press”. You probably didn’t even think to optimize the press release for search engines…and that’s ok, for now.
Because of this, public relations consultants and agencies will not go away. The bad part? A lot have not evolved beyond launching companies or products. Any seasoned PR professional will tell you that making advance announcements is not enough, if becoming a thought leader and attaining market differentiation are important long-term goals for your company. Your PR needs to be creative.
Breaking Out of the Mold
Unlike now, the average public relations consultant or agency was leaning on the web, then the social web, to redefine the way communications is managed in the 21st Century. The outbound marketing approach was still being leveraged as the only way to promote ones goods and services. But, in today’s market, the focus is on attraction rather than promotion. Many in public relations are developing studies, webinars, blog posts, and other content to bring their clients’ prospects and current customers onto their websites and social platforms for activation and engagement.
Ways to Get PR from Content
There are many ways public relations can benefit from content. Rather than list a series of bullets, I took to the web to find interesting and creative ways in which my public relations peers have used content to garner media.
Releasing Studies / Data
Most obvious is the “study” aka data. If a public relations practitioner can help a client create an unbiased study with a sound methodology it’s possible that media will pick up on a story (or two). I’ve seen companies use Researchscape , Harris Interactive or survey their own customers when looking for a successful PR partner such as this example from Internet Retailer.
Results from a study can often get written about by multiple media outlets within trade or mainstream publications. The PR person, if creative, will break up the results into different stories to broaden appeal and offer individual outlets pretty close to exclusive takes on the same study.
Turning Blog Posts into Contributed Articles
A blog post is a good place to start when developing a story to pitch as a contributed article / byline. True, some media outlets will not take a topic if it was posted onto a corporate blog, but most online publications won’t care as the contributed article will have more than a few hundred characters and contain additional, thoughtful commentary.
These contributed article opportunities are perfect when running a thought leadership program for a client. In this example, the visionary (a former client) took a position that challenged an industry trend.
Pitching Case Studies
I was particularly impressed with this example. The vendor convinced their client to speak about its success at the vendor’s user conference and the press picked up on the news either because the media was invited to the conference to “cover” the event and/or was pitched the story. Of course, the vendor’s client, “Dominos” is a sexy, big brand, so it was clearly a big win by marketing and PR at the vendor company for securing the speaking opportunity and press hits, but it’s not to be taken for granted.
Take a look at how well the story is messaged and how the vendor became positioned as an innovator as a result of this piece.
The infographic is not just for Pinterest, anymore. Actually, for quite some time now, many online publications – and offline – have been using infographics to support their stories. I think the key is to make sure that an infographic can work across media. Just because it may look good on Pinterest, the infographic could get lost on Facebook due to a sizing issue or not fit within the requirements of a media outlet for publishing. It’s important to work with a graphic designer who is ready on hand to adjust the infographic to suit various needs.
Here’s a good example of an infographic that really tells a story and supports the writer’s objectives.
Where to Begin
It’s important to recognize that when researching where a company has had success with content is a skill. The researcher aka public relations person needs to have had experience or know what to look for when trying to find success stories. After all, it’s important, as a practitioner, to show a client where he/she may get press, if executing a similar program. I wouldn’t suggest just any piece of content could get press. Some topics or infographics may be covered recently before and others may not be timely or appropriate for any given audience. The key is to first audit the competitive landscape and market and make recommendations based on your findings to what may be the best content to use when thinking of how it can become press worthy. If your content is out of context and not press worthy, your company will not earn the media.
This part of a series of blog posts written about "breaking out" your public relations. For our last post on the subject, please click here.
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