What comes to mind when you hear the term ‘public relations’? Press releases, media kits, and article pitches? These are the topics covered in most PR 101 classes in college that are commonly accepted as part of any PR professional’s daily workflow. While this assumption isn’t incorrect, any PR pro would know that on day one of your professional career, you will see there’s a lot more to the job – and it wasn’t all covered in that class you took the spring semester of sophomore year.
One of the most important aspects of Public Relations is rooted in the term itself…relationships.
Building relationships in the industry will help amplify your messages and reach new audiences. This includes assessing the market, being an active listener, and providing meaningful content that can be pushed out across a variety of channels.
People are crucial to shaping the story around your brand. For example, journalists will not only share your news with their readers, but also provide the opportunity for feedback and an open dialogue. Their expertise is something you should tap into regularly and use to inform and improve your content.
Another great source is your customers who can provide real-life proof points of the end results of your company’s efforts. It is important to make them the hero of the story and highlight their successes that will interest your readers. Include them in thought leadership pieces, discussion panels, and more to help inform others about what is possible.
Who is your Audience?
While it’s important to build relationships across the industry, it also requires PR professionals to tailor their content based on their intended audience. Serving partners, integrators, end users, and more means that your content must vary to properly serve your intended reader but be relatable to all.
The end goal of these messages are also different depending on the audience. You want to work with your integrators to create brand awareness and help them share what’s possible with end users. Conversely, you want to inform end users about your products and encourage them to work with your company to help make their vision a reality.
While pitching out product news and addressing industry trends are both important, creating your own news is something that should always be considered.
Understand your products and how they are used. Spend time with salespeople to unearth new stories to tell. Talk to engineering about the innovations and trends they see. Learn about how customers are using these solutions uniquely and tell their story in relatable ways.
Don’t focus on being overly technical or the speeds and feeds of the products. Instead, narrate your story in a way that would intrigue people who are unfamiliar with your company (like my 72-year-old mother).
The solutions your customers use provide a gateway to the greater experience. Strive to tell that story and paint the picture of a workplace, stadium, university, etc. that your reader will want to visit.
Once you lock in the story, be sure to amplify it further across different avenues. There are evergreen quotes that can be leveraged in marketing materials such as brochures and tradeshow walls. Don’t forget there is always an opportunity to pitch an exclusive with a publication and partner with them to drive a greater readership around the article.
Balancing Strategy and Awareness
Public Relations requires a level of flexibility that demonstrates both the ability to strategize future stories to pitch, but also adjust to the news cycles as they change. COVID-19 was a perfect example of communications teams needing to adjust their content to a shift in coverage.
While many in our industry were focusing on stories around the workplace of the future, that workplace quickly disappeared for nearly a year while employees around the globe transitioned to working from their homes.
The interest of readers changed, and the publications had to pivot their reporting to cover new content that was now relevant. If companies wanted to be a part of these stories, they needed to change their tone as well.
Creating narratives and developing meaningful relationships are the first step to magnifying the reach your PR team can achieve. When you build an internal team of individuals with a passion for the work and an enthusiasm to do more, you will continuously discover new opportunities to promote your brand, even if they weren’t the traditional methods covered by your college professor.
Ron Epstein is the Director of Public Relations at Crestron.