Beyond the press release: exploring the power of modern PR
The humble press release is sometimes sniffed at by marketers who think PR should be a little more flash, bang, whizz these days. But this underrated comms tool remains central to any great (and properly integrated) marketing strategy. The trick is to build up and out from the foundations it provides; using tactics designed for our digitised world. Only then will you realise the full power of modern PR.
So - you’ve got your PR messaging honed and your press release approved. Soon you’ll be sending it out to your key contacts and trying to secure the kind of coverage that can deliver new leads and build brand awareness. But how can you make sure your story lands well, and where do you go from there?
Prepare for action
In our recent Guide to Developing a Digital-First PR Strategy, we shared our tips on actions you can take to help your business to secure a higher volume of PR coverage. Getting your B2B news published has become more challenging since the Covid-19 pandemic began; email inboxes are more crowded, phone lines more likely to ring out, working routines are altered, and more publications are making the move to digital-only. It means that businesses need to switch up their approach.
One important thing you can do to give you a better chance of being heard is to properly prepare before you pitch. While it’s more time-consuming, we always recommend personalising your PR comms to each title, and if possible each journalist. Rather than simply sending out a blanket email to all of your media contacts, identify your key titles and then spend some time researching which journalist will be most interested in your piece, how best to reach them and what they’re likely to be looking for.
There are some great martech tools out there that can help with this if you’re over-stretched, but time spent seeing what journalists are doing and saying on Twitter and LinkedIn, and perhaps engaging with them there first, is also helpful. This kind of personal approach is what people increasingly expect in every aspect of their life. Forbes recently reported that 72% of consumers only engage with personalised messaging - so why would you expect journalists to respond any differently?
Get ready to react
While it’s not always possible to make a press statement that coincides with relevant news events, the most successful press releases will be both timely and topical. If this is the case, it can be useful to draft up some reactive statements and quotes from your senior team at the same time; ready to adapt and send as soon as you see something in the news you want your brand to be associated with.
An important note: if this does happen you’ll want to act fast, so get the right approval processes and permissions in place to ensure sign off doesn’t slow you down.
Once your press release and comments are out there, you need to keep a watchful eye on their performance and engagement - and make sure you respond quickly to online discussions wherever appropriate. The way your business deals with both positive and negative comments can be critical to developing your brand reputation. See it as an opportunity to demonstrate an authentic and authoritative voice, making sure your replies are measured, intelligent and ‘on-brand’. After all, as an extension to your core PR statement, using the key messaging you’ve developed to participate in online conversations is low-cost PR at its best.
Maximise your reach
While we’re on the topic of budget… since the pandemic, many PR and marketing teams are under even more pressure than usual to make the pounds go further and prove the ROI value of every penny they spend. This can be better achieved by making sure that your PR pieces are part of a wider PR and marketing campaign, using a range of different tactics to maximise reach across multiple channels. We recommend creating supporting content such as blog posts, branded social media image tiles, infographics or even a short promotional video, and making sure everything is SEO optimised of course.
This is where PR and marketing can really come together to create something that’s both cost-efficient and effective, and where having access to the right martech, and to a team with multiple specialisms - including PR, copywriting and design - can be invaluable. To get the most from your campaign, you should also be able to access regular reporting on the performance of every asset; to apply test-and-learn principles to your tactics and to demonstrate to stakeholders what parts of your strategy are working and what needs rethinking.
Access to your PR performance data may even give you the confidence to be a little bolder with your brand messaging in the future - one sure-fire way to attract audience attention in any over-crowded B2B space.