The kickoff of a brand-new product or business is an exciting but stressful time. You’ve got a story to tell, but how? And who’s going to listen? Can you really start from scratch and build a positive relationship with the public? How does this PR thing work anyway?
It starts, as all business processes must, with strategy.
What are the goals?
Before you start crafting a message, your team should agree on what you hope to achieve with a PR campaign. Is it more important to manage your corporate reputation, or to drive sales of a particular product? The answer is usually clear, but you needn’t get too specific at this stage, because…
Now it’s time to define and set clear objectives
This is the brass-tacks part of the campaign, where you’re going to measure available resources against defined metrics for success. The old business-school acronym SMART applies here -- objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.
As you’re setting metrics, remember that “news makes news” -- and an initial couple of media placements can lead to lots more.
Develop one simple story
If the story you want told isn’t clear to you, it’s not going to get traction with reporters and audiences either.
Now, you’re going to position this story in different ways over the course of a campaign, but at heart it has to be memorable and simple.
“New cybersecurity solution saves IT departments millions” is a good, tell-me-more story (How will they save millions?); “New cybersecurity software stops hackers” is not (because, hey, don’t all cybersecurity solutions stop hackers?
Keep it simple, with a lead-in that makes a reporter want to find out more.
DIY or hire an agency?
Honestly? You might be able to run a decent PR campaign internally. You’ll need some extra capacity in the marketing department, and ideally some personnel with PR experience. The particular skillsets of public-relations pros, however -- high media awareness and high-volume writing, for example -- can be hard to develop in-house.
Whether you contract an agency or put the marketers on the campaign, it’s now time to...
Research the reporters you want to reach
Gaining a more-or-less global understanding of your media segment takes time and diligence -- and ideally some quality software. You can use services like Meltwater or ProfNet to track what reporters are doing, and MuckRack to find out where they are.
But that could be pricey. An easy alternative? Start Googling.
For journalists in your sector, you’ll want to find out what they’ve been writing lately, who they work for and how they prefer to be approached (most reporters are very clear about this)
For outlets, you need to find out about reach (including location), frequency, overlap with your target audience, and what their editors like.
In social media, what is the run of conversation about your brand/ themes, and how can you differentiate your story from those of your competitors?
Style counts. Include details that are relevant and interesting to targeted reporters
Good PR writing is “packed” writing. It’s action-packed -- with active verbs that tell a story. And it’s information-packed -- rich with concrete details and useful facts. All components of a basic emailed outreach - subject line, pitch and the press release itself - have to meet this readability test.
A word about press releases - the intro, or “lede” is key, and has to be as close to perfect as you can make it. Everything after the release’s first paragraph or so is just enrichment -- it should be useful to a potential story.
Pitch, follow up, and adapt
If you’re certain a particular journalist or outlet is craving what you offer, send a friendly followup message or give them a call.
Make sure your message is visible in social media and your own channels -- if you’re creating content as part of the campaign, make sure to tie it to the release where possible. Monitor the response from your targeted journalists, and respond accordingly (remember, reporters are free to use your stuff without telling you -- in fact, most are too busy to do so).
Measure, reflect and get ready to start again
As your basic campaign draws to a close, it’s time to look at where you succeeded. Do you measure Ad Value Equivalent? Reach? Well, let me answer that question with another question: what number would be meaningful to you?
Honestly, the best, simplest metric is simply a list of the coverage you got: the publication, the title, the date -- and that should give you a good idea of how you did -- and how you can do better next time.
Free press release template and guide
In addition to the awesome content above put together by Mind Meld PR we've also created a downloadable, step by step template you can use for putting together your press releases. It walks you through all the information you need, how to word everything, and most importantly how to put it all together into a complete release. Click below to download!
If you're after more info and advice on how to handle comms during your capital raise, why not check out our other resources? We've put together a whole series jam packed with tips and templates on this very topic