Most public relations professionals tend to get a blank stare when they tell people what they do on a day-to-day basis. According to the Public Relations Society of America, “Public relations (PR) is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” Clear as mud now? Thought so.
One reason this definition seems vague is that public relations can be broken down into several different tactical areas depending on the needs of the brand – speech writing, reputation management, crisis communications, special events, media relations – the list goes on and on. Essentially, any public-facing messaging representing a business or organization likely has a public relations tactic behind it.
“Public-facing messaging” tends to draw a line to press releases, with many professionals still believing this is PR’s primary tactic. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. While in the past, public relations may have been more of a cookie-cutter, standardized process, it has evolved over time to meet the changing needs of media. A press release is a statement of facts and hardly tells a story – so why rely on it alone for media coverage? Consider these aspects of PR that don’t require a press release:
Sometimes there isn’t an opportunity or a need for a press release. However, that doesn’t mean your brand has to go silent. In this case, story mining is an excellent way to bring a new angle to a media outlet of interest.
Story mining is exactly what it sounds like: looking for ways to uncover compelling stories and perspective about your industry that will help solve a problem for your audience, but not necessarily talking about your business, product or core of what you do.
Use a story mining session with key executives, sales team leads or other potential thought leaders within your organization to uncover possible topics that could be used as part of your PR efforts. Can your thought leaders offer commentary on a current industry trend? In this case, you may be able to use current news trends to your advantage. Does your product or service solve an unexpected problem? Look at this as a way to possibly tell a larger industry story.
When your brand doesn’t have news of its own to share, the best way to garner coverage is to react to someone else’s news.
Sometimes referred to as “newsjacking,” reactive pitching involves tracking what your target journalists are covering and using those opportunities to insert commentary from a company’s thought leaders. This commentary may be something uncovered during a story mining session or during a one-off conversation as a news story is breaking.
One of the keys to using reactive pitching to secure coverage is reacting to a news event quickly with a fresh take. If a journalist or outlet has already covered a specific story, they’re unlikely to use your company’s leadership as a source unless you can provide them something new. To catch breaking news, set up Google Alerts of competitors and keywords, and create a Twitter list of key journalists and media outlets.
Today, instant access to news means more content is needed faster than ever before to keep up with the demand of today’s readers. To make matters more complicated, the decline of print media, among a host of other factors, has lead to fewer journalists to create this content. The need for stories despite a shrinking staff has created a new way for a company to get its name out there: contributed content opportunities.
This PR tactic places you in the driver’s seat of the story creation process—content is written from the perspective of your director of sales, for example, as an industry expert on a trending topic, and then pitched to your target media. Connect your content to the larger news story when reaching out to media, offering your team member as a thought leader on the subject. If the editor finds the piece compelling and not self-serving in nature, they will consider posting the article you wrote on their website, hopefully with a link back to your target landing page. This would be win-win for everyone: you earn media coverage while positioning your company as a thought leader in a given industry, and the media outlet provides their readership with a quality expert without having to employ someone to write the piece.
The press release isn’t dead
Don’t get us wrong, just because “PR” shouldn’t be synonymous with “press release” doesn’t mean there isn’t value behind using the tried-and-true press release as a tool for telling communicating your company’s news. Journalists often prefer press releases as a resource for full details on an organization’s announcements, breaking news and events, if it’s relevant to them. That way, they have the full background on your brand, your recent news and quotes from you to return to at any point – whether they are writing the story now or at a later date.
Interested in learning more about how to take your PR efforts beyond press releases? Contact Lindsey Groepper for more info!