PR is not rocket science but it does take time, focus and a lot of pounding the pavement. If PR isn't at the top of your list of business priorities you might not be ready to reap the benefits.
I always get in trouble for saying this - PR is not for every company at every stage. Yes, if you have a product you should use PR as part of your marketing arsenal. But PR takes a lot of strategy, timing, proofpoints, and charisma. The rest is just pure luck. There are a ton of things that go into building out strong PR campaigns. And good PR takes a significant investment over time. So before you jump into the deep there are a few things you should asks yourselves so you know you are ready to reap the benefits of talking to the media:
- Are you spokespeople available? Has your CEO or CTO decided that this is an effort that is worth their time and will clear their calendar for? If not, are there other spokespeople that are ready?
- Do you know how to talk about your business? Media interviews are rarely longer than 30 minutes. Can all your spokespeople get across the 3 key messages (exactly the same way), talk customer case studies, highlight key business metrics and give a demo in 30 mins? Now can they do it at 7am or 7pm? Or on stage?
- Can you handle the impact? PR is all about brand recognition and lead generation. Have you completed your brand strategy so you can take advantage of the new eyeballs? Can your website scale to meet the immediate influx of leads? Do you have a sales funnel created to manage the new leads? Have you reviewed your onboarding process? Is support up to speed with new product features?
- Do you have references? Who else can attest to how marvelous your team/product is? Are there any metrics, proofpoints, customers willing to speak with the media? Are you really allowed to mention your customers to the media?
- What is you PR pipeline? PR is about consistency. Once you do the big launch what will you pitch ongoing. Your agency can help identify what is newsworthy but what do you want to talk about?
- How much does it cost? You sell something people buy. People like to know how much it is going to cost. Even if it is just the starting pricing.
- Newspage and About Us - I was literally on a call where the journalist said, "I can't find a quick sentence about what you do and when you were found. Also I can't tell who does what from the funny titles. I need those to write a story." Look you may think that the conformist About Us Pages and Newspage but sometimes people need the simplest way to get the information they need.
- Do you have a VP of Marketing? - There are a lot of people out there that will tell you what you need to do next. The person who has the experience and their their livelihood on the line enough to give you that advice is a VP of Marketing that cares about your brand. They will be the first to tell you that you have or don't have a need for PR at this time. Let them figure out a strategy for marketing first and see if and when PR fits into your immediate goals and what kind of leads you are trying to reach.
Look, having a PR person ask you every week "do you have X so we can pitch Y?" is frankly annoying when you know that closing the deal with what will be your biggest customer is the most important thing and needs all of your teams energy. Or if you are driving more leads from your social media, then you need a firm that can take your social to the next level. Like anything else its about the right tools, for the right job, at the right time. And you have to be ready to make the most of it.