We asked international PR and growth experts: What are rather unknown tactics in PR? What insight could improve entrepreneurs’ PR strategies? What lack of knowledge about PR do you stumble upon with your clients? Here are 9 Things About Public Relations You May Not Have Known:
(1) It’s not about you. It’s about the audience.
“Far too many entrepreneurs have a backwards understanding of how to engage media in pursuit of PR. You must always operate with this understanding: Never ask press outlets for something. Always offer them something. Journalists aren’t in the business of publicizing your services or products. They’re in the business of providing their audiences interesting content. Explain to them when you pitch how reporting on you will benefit their audiences, and you have a shot — your only shot, really — of landing coverage.” — Gary Schneeberger, President at ROAR and author of BITE THE DOG: Build a PR Strategy to Make News That Matters
(2) Go-to-market needs high-quality content.
“Many clients don’t fully understand the importance of shareable, high-quality visual content. It’s not enough these days to just talk about how great your product or service is — you need to show it. Producing videos, having high-quality photoshoots, and offering graphics and charts depicting why your business is better than your competition is key to standing out and getting the media’s attention. A big part of public relations is helping businesses produce this content, giving media and consumers the visual aids to help them in their decision making”— Bryanne Lawless-Degoede, Managing Partner at BLND Public Relations
(3) You can always get an award.
“ When speaking with entrepreneurs new to the world of PR, they can often be surprised to learn about the realities of receiving an award or making a list in a top-tier media outlet. For example, you have to generally apply to awards; furthermore, there is more often than not an application fee attached. Thus, those who ultimately win said awards or make major lists, are competing with a grouping of paid or submitted contestants. There is good and bad news in this. The good is that you now know attaining large awards and list recognition is achievable, the bad perhaps is the reality that it often comes at a price. Examples of paid lists/ awards are Inc. 5000, Entrepreneur 360, etc.” — Lexie Smith, Founder and PR coach at THEPRBAR inc.
(4) Earned media is earned for a reason.
“One of the biggest misconceptions about PR is that we control it. We don’t and ironically that’s really where PR gathers its strength. Because if you have to earn your way into a story then the editor and media outlet vouches for your brand and you get that powerful “trust transfer” that is so valuable in a world of marketing lies and liars. But the minute you start “buying” your way in and the audience discovers that, yes you control more aspects of it but you can lose the very thing you wanted PR to do. PR isn’t just about sales, it’s about trust, which allows sales to flourish for many years.” — Scott Robertson, Founder and CEO of RobertsonComm
(5) There is a way to go to reach the goal.
“What I counsel new companies to keep in mind is that a strategic PR campaign, that works from the ground up, will be much more effective than trying to attain top-tier media coverage right out of the chute. That typically only comes from having a track record or, in rare cases, by offering something that is so truly disruptive that it piques interest. Having realistic media expectations will allow you to develop your individual “story” while still reaching those who can move your dial. Remember that it’s a marathon — not a sprint.” — Dick Grove, founder and CEO of INK Inc. Public Relations
(6) You need to be newsworthy.
“Create your own newsworthy content that drives coverage from the media and specific influencers.
Develop a compelling story that is of interest to a targeted influencer (like a local newspaper, industry expert, etc). Create compelling content around that story and use it to reach out. Creating news is arguably the most effective way to build relationships and grow your reach and visibility, because great content has real value. Pretty much all news sites, reporters, journos, bloggers, and influencers are all looking for great content to share with their readers.
For example, I created a list of the 10 best business ideas from University Entrepreneurs and shared it with the media and all the colleges that made it onto the list. Because that article focused on the incredible entrepreneurial talent bubbling away at various American universities, it was a story that was of interested to a wide range of media — from education to business. The article was picked up by USA Today and published nationally, leading to plenty of referrals and links from top media houses and leading Universities.
I benefitted from valuable citations from top business colleges and also used this opportunity to establish relationships with them. They now approach me with news about new ideas and business competitions in the hope I’ll provide coverage. It’s a powerful position to be in for any small business.” — David Mercer, Founder of SME Pals
(7) PR is part of the business development.
“Good judgement is the most important skill in the PR professional’s handbook today. We need to understand an organisation’s goals, challenges, USPs, competitors, customers, advocates, critics, history and proof points to develop business-focused strategies based on compelling stories. PR is far more involved and strategic than many people recognise and a good professional will remain agile, forever judging the shifting landscape, moving goals and new opportunities and risks, to make the right decisions to help you grow your business and influence. Having an exceptional understanding of the sector you operate in, as well as PR itself, can make a PR professional even more valuable.”- Leigh Greenwood MCIPR, Dip CIPR, Founder of specialist health PR agency Evergreen PR
(8) Mentions should be highly valued.
“Unlinked mentions of a brand positively impact SEO. Many entrepreneurs are unaware of this, but it’s been verified by Google multiple times. This provides another positive impact of press releases — even when they drive no traffic or are unlinked when picked up by third-party sites, they still benefit the brand’s organic rankings in Google.” — Calloway Cook, Founder of an angel-backed herbal supplements eCommerce called Illuminate Labs, manages the PR for his business.
(9) SEO tactics do not equal readership.
“Distributing a press release via one of the paid wire services — like PRNewswire, BusinessWire and PRWeb — can help search engine results, but don’t expect many people other than stock analysts to actually read your press release. This is because the pages where paid wire stories are posted on most news sites are largely hidden from the average viewer. These placements can help SEO, because search engines see them when they crawl the web, but don’t expect any real, live humans to see your news. The exceptions here are financial sites like MarketWatch and Yahoo Finance, which stock analysts use to track company news.”
PRontheGO.com — The Creative Entrepreneur’s source for PR hacks.