If you’re considering a PR program for your business, you’re probably looking to boost your company’s credibility and awareness about what you do. You want your story in front of key audiences so you can improve your performance in sales, business development, recruiting, funding – or all of those areas.
You want, in other words, a big impact.
And you should – if you’re investing money in public relations, it’s only fair to expect a return on your investment. But before you sign a contract with a PR agency, it’s important to understand that, to achieve the best results possible, you’ll need to invest more than money.
Because even if you hire the best PR agency in the world, they won’t be able to achieve big results in a vacuum.
Here are five things you can do that will give your PR program the best possible shot at achieving high-impact results for your company.
1: Lead the Way
You know your industry better than anyone – and certainly better than your PR agency. That’s normal: you’re immersed in this stuff every day, you talk to insiders, you read the newsletters. It’s your world.
That means you’ll be aware of trends and important developments before reporters are.
But if you don’t share this information with your PR firm – that is, if they find out about the latest industry developments by reading the news – you’ll have a hard time getting coverage around those topics.
Think about it: if your PR team is reading about the latest trends, that means reporters have already covered them. They’ve already spoken to expert sources and built their stories around those people’s insights.
What to do: Get into the habit of proactively sending updates to your PR team. Discuss trends on regular check-in calls. Tell them which newsletters to read. If people in your industry are talking about something, let the PR folks know.
This lets them get ahead of the story. It means they can present you as an expert source to journalists who are hungry for expert information. It will greatly increase your chances of getting quoted on relevant topics, which means getting attention for your business.
2: Move Faster
Reporters are pretty much always on deadline. If your PR team comes to you asking for quotes or quote approval, the faster you move, the better.
Even if there’s not a set-in-stone deadline, faster is almost always better – that reporter probably has reached out to many potential sources, and the first good reply wins. The sooner a reporter gets quotes, the sooner they can file their piece and get to the million other things they’re working on.
What to do: Make sure key thought leaders understand the goals of your PR program and have prioritized participation. If they’re not aligned on the importance of the program overall, they’re unlikely to prioritize the legwork of getting in front of reporters.
One tactic we’ve found successful: send your decision-maker quotes for review with language to the effect of, “If I don’t hear from you by XYZ date, I’ll assume these are approved and submit them.”
3: Take a Stand or Pick a Fight
We get it: you’re a business. You don’t want to alienate potential customers (or partners or employees or investors) by positioning yourself too squarely on one side of an issue.
But the truth is that very few reporters are interested in a quote that simply explains what they already know. When you take a firm stance on issues related to your industry, you have a much better chance of getting a reporter’s attention.
What to do: Your company undoubtedly already has a core customer base and driving values. Take a stand that aligns with those things, and you’ll strengthen your existing customer relationships.
And remember: taking a stand (and even picking a fight) doesn’t have to mean antagonizing people who disagree with you – done well, it involves participating in a debate that’s important for everyone in your industry.
4: Get Customer Participation
I’ve written before about the ways customers can supercharge a PR program. Customer participation is so powerful that it’s worth mentioning again.
Evangelize to your customers about the importance of the work you do and how their participation in your narrative is shaping the world around them. Help them see themselves as leaders in part of a larger story, and they’ll be happy to help when the time comes.
This matters, particularly for B2B companies, because many reporters want to report on issues that affect individuals, not businesses. That means working with your clients to find the human stories that your work impacts.
What to do: First, understand why your customers may be hesitant about talking to the press. Then, follow the tips we outline here: find good fits, reach out via email, confirm their interest when there’s a concrete opportunity, proceed with caution, and prepare everyone involved.
5: Integrate PR with Sales and Marketing
I mentioned above that thought leaders within your company need to be aligned with the goals of your PR program. The same is true for your sales and marketing teams. That’s because sales and marketing have the power to amplify any PR wins your agency gets you.
For example, your salespeople can use a placement as an excuse to reach out to that one difficult prospect. Your marketing team can promote those placements on social media and your company’s press page.
Another key role sales can play is identifying top pain points customers are experiencing so that the PR team knows where the stories might be and what customers might be interested in talking about.
What to do: Follow these 11 steps for leveraging PR wins via sales and marketing.
The Give and Take of PR
Public relations has the power to boost your credibility among key audiences, attract top talent to you company, and get you in front of potential investors. I’ve seen it do all three. But for these things to happen, it’s essential that your investment in your PR program go beyond your monthly fee: you have to also get top people at your company invested in being bold, thoughtful, and aggressive.
Without that investment, you hurt your odds of great results.