Every year, countless businesses launch publicity campaigns. More often than not, there are a few critical missteps made at the outset that impede their momentum and have a direct impact on their PR return-on-investment. Public relations endeavors are an essential component to increased visibility and name-awareness, but without proper preparedness and implementation, visions of magazine covers and daily newspaper interviews can prove to be ill-fated pipe dreams.
Thankfully, there are a number of actions you can take to safeguard yourself from PR pitfalls and get the most out of your fledgling publicity campaign.
1. Start sooner rather than later.
A common misconception is that the appropriate start date is when the final touches have been put on a new product, service, hire, or location. This is typically the initial obstacle that has many professionals sputtering out of the gate. Your PR campaign should begin at least four to six months in advance of your anticipated launch. Properly executed publicity involves creating a snowball-effect by ever-increasing mentions and features across a wealth of publications; by the time many businesses feel they are ready to proceed with PR, their window of opportunity has already begun to close.
2. Appoint a company spokesperson.
The decision to finally pull the trigger on a company-wide public relations campaign is enough to create a palpable buzz around the office. The prospect of increased sales numbers and an expanded client base as the result of increased visibility will generate excitement among your employees and coworkers, but frequently lost amid the enthusiasm is the responsibility to delegate a media spokesperson.
Many CEOs tend to view their operations through a prism of team-oriented achievement, where each and every member of the company provides their expertise to work toward a common goal. While this is a terrific model for fostering corporate harmony, it does not work when a reporter is on the phone seeking a specific person for a quote in their next issue. Appointing a spokesperson to handle all media matters and requests is vital to maximizing the likelihood that your thoughts and ideas make it to print. Reporters and editors adhere to strict deadlines, and in many cases, the contact that provides the content they desire first will be the source quoted in the final copy. Publicity by committee leads to confusion, dragging feet and, ultimately, missed opportunities. Nominate a spokesperson to handle all public relations activity.
3. Don’t be afraid to stretch your message.
There’s a tendency in the business arena to begin to adopt a form of corporate tunnel vision; you become so close to your skills and knowledge that it’s virtually impossible to view things from a third-party perspective. As a result of this myopic mindset, many potentially lucrative opportunities fall to the wayside or are ignored entirely; cast aside because they don’t fit into the specific schema you’ve formed about the nature of your business or expertise.
Stretching your topic to apply to what’s circulating in the news is a fundamental facet to a profitable campaign. For example: Never decline a publicity opportunity because of a perceived lack of expertise on a topic; broaden your message to apply to avenues you may have previously overlooked.
4. Stir the pot with unique perspectives and controversy.
Nothing whets the media’s appetite quite like a good, old-fashioned controversy. They dominate headlines, they are the fodder for early morning water cooler conversation, and most importantly: readers like them. This does not mean to delve into the gutters of Kardashian-inspired, tabloidian gossip, but providing a unique counterpoint to commonly held beliefs or opinions is a terrific way to produce attention and awareness.
A well researched, informed argument that may fly in the face of societal norms is akin to a flashing, neon-sign to journalists seeking to provide both sides of an issue. Do not shy away from ruffling feathers, because nothing builds public notoriety like controversy.
Make no mistake about it, a carefully crafted and properly executed publicity strategy will enhance your company’s profile, and provide a boon to your organizational efforts. By embarking on a PR campaign with clearly defined goals and an action plan for when the media comes calling, you’re positioning yourself to enjoy profitable quarters and annual reports in the black.
Russell Trahan is President of PR/PR, a boutique public relations agency specializing in positioning clients in front of their target audience in print and online. For more information, please visit www.prpr.net or email email@example.com for a free consultation.