My Cinnamon-Chocolate Cake

Why you should take back ownership of your PR

I like baking. I like it because, if I follow the recipe and use the recommended ingredients, I get the anticipated results — in the shape of something yummy I can share with my family and friends. I usually get a lot of compliments, which I appreciate. But, ultimately, the only way I can tell if something was really good is if I get requests for seconds.

Like everyone else, I have my tried-and-tested recipes that never fail me. But every now and then, I challenge myself with a semi-safe twist on a family favorite. (Adding cinnamon to a chocolate cake, for example. Great! Try it!)

If the twist is successful, I get more compliments and smiles than usual, requests for “just one more piece,” and questions like, “How did you make it?” — and the twist becomes the new standard. If it’s not successful, however, I receive polite smiles and no requests for seconds. Then I know my semi-safe twist failed — but not miserably. I can still make chocolate balls out of it. Right?

So, that’s how I approach my marketing campaigns and initiatives: 80 percent tried and tested; 20 percent semi-safe twist.

This year, we decided to bring a twist to our tried-and-tested press-release recipe, which consisted simply of using our PR agency for everything: Writing. Targeting. Coordinating. Distributing. Following up. Reporting.

But we noticed we were getting less and less engagement from this recipe. We got a lot of engagement from journalists and other influencers through our usual day-to-day activities and direct channels — but whenever there was a big press release, we heard crickets.

We tried other wires. Same results. Local magazines covered our press releases — but our target group doesn’t read those magazines. (Once, we even saw a military magazine pick up our press release. Must have been a very slow week!)

Bottom line? We felt like we needed a twist. A semi-safe twist. So, we decided to create our own PR platform, in-house. A platform that we can reuse and build on moving forward. We built it just like we build every other campaign: Research. Target audience. Message. Personalization. Marketing assets. SEO. Follow up and nurturing process.

And then my team sent out a press release without using PR Newswire or a PR agency.

Press Release Ingredients

· A well-written press release — check

· A list of relevant tech and finance journalists, bloggers, influencers and analysts — check

· Distribution engines (HubSpot/email/LinkedIn/Twitter) — check

· Personal relationships — check and check

· Subject-matter experts as speakers — check

· PR coordination and project management — check

· Rolled-up sleeves — double check!

We knew what we were doing because we’ve done it before — we’ve done millions of marketing campaigns in the past. But this time, the twist was that we were accountable for the entire process, from lead creation, to opportunity conversion (byline opportunity, interview or a mention), to closing and execution (writing a byline article, coordinating a call, following up on publishing date, amplifying the published article on social and continuing to nurture the journalist/our client).

I’m not going to pretend this was a breeze. It required days of research and preparation and a ton of execution. But the results were amazing.

On the first day our announcement went live, we received the most website traffic of any single day in the lifetime of our site, all from organic efforts — we didn’t pay for it. The number of our inbound leads increased by 500 percent that week. Our engagement rates in all social channels increased by around 200 percent. And we got approximately 30 mentions from the leading publications in our market. (No military publications this time.)

The other thing we got was a reusable PR platform that we can build on. Our PR twist is now the new standard — and we’ve gotten requests for seconds and thirds!