We PR professionals are a persistent bunch – failed pitches, reporters ignoring us, fans not engaging with our content – no problem. We know we can’t win them all. However, if you find yourself striking out a little too often, it might be time to evaluate your game plan. Here are seven things that may be sabotaging your public relations strategy:
- Mistake 1: Overlooking industry/trade/niche media outlets. Sure, being in The New York Times or on the “Today” show is every business owner’s dream; however it might surprise you that you can get quality leads (and potentially more of them) from a placement in a key trade pub. Just because they don’t have the widest readership doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Understanding the audience you’re trying to reach and their habits – especially what they read and which social channels they frequent – is an important part of a successful strategy.
- Mistake 2: Failing to educate other departments. Don’t miss out on getting buy-in from other departments. Maybe your sales team isn’t keeping you in the loop on key initiatives or your R&D department isn’t sharing information on the latest product launch. Help your business partners understand what public relations is and how you can help maximize the impact of the work they do for the organization. And if the information doesn’t come to you, then go out and get it. Like I said – a persistent bunch.
- Mistake 3: Ignoring the competition. Measuring yourself against the competition can really help you gauge whether your public relations strategy is working.Are you gaining market share? Do more consumers feel positively about your brand compared to your competitors? Where does your brand appear in online search results? No one operates in a vacuum. You may be the industry leader, but you’re not going to stay there if you’re ignoring the competition.
- Mistake 4: Not understanding SEO. You don’t have to be an SEO expert, but understanding how SEO and search play into your overall digital marketing strategy can help your PR efforts. Read up on link building, get to know your company’s keyword strategy and understand how your audience is searching online. This knowledge can help you craft better messages – whether for a press release, social media or a guest blog post. (For a good SEO roadmap, see “What a CMO needs to know about SEO.”)
- Mistake 5: Underestimating the time commitment. Think a quick media mention can skyrocket your brand to success? While I’m sure there are exceptions, the reality is no. Reputation and relationship building takes time, so your public relations strategy shouldn’t be shortsighted. Creating a realistic long-term PR plan can also help you manage expectations from higher-ups who may not know what goes into identifying key influencers and media contacts, understanding what they want and managing those relationships – building a following and developing those connections takes time.
- Mistake 6: Overlooking how content and social media fit in the mix. Do you have a company blog? What content is performing well? Find out and turn it into a media pitch. Turn up the volume on your content strategy by amplifying your message through PR and social media channels.
- Mistake 7: Not measuring along the way. No plan is ever perfect; that’s why you must measure as you go. As data becomes more critical for determining success (and budget dollars), PR professionals must decide what key performance indicators (KPIs) are most valuable to their business (hint: it’s not ad equivalency or impression numbers). Whether it’s market share, share of voice, website referral traffic or increased brand engagement, make sure to establish benchmarks before you begin so you can measure along the way. And more importantly, make adjustments so you’re not spending time and resources on things that aren’t delivering results.
Taking the time to evaluate whether your public relations strategy is missing the mark will pay off in the end. After all, it’s important to keep that persistent spirit, but you need to make sure your drive is powered by the right game plan.