Press Release Advice from a Trade Magazine Writer

Wouldn’t you just love to know what trade magazine journalists would like to see in your pitches?  I always think it is helpful to pick the brain of those who are on the receiving end of my media outreach.  What are they thinking as they press the delete key on my e-mail?  Or what makes them decide that my e-mail is worthy of opening and reading?  Fortunately I found a report written by David Meerman Scott (marketing strategist, public speaker and writer) that gives 9 Tips to Effectively Pitch Trade Publications.

please dont delete

One of my favorite tips in this post has to do with helping the journalist see how your product or company fits into the big picture.  For example, how does your product fit into a bigger trend that is has been emerging?  As a pitch writer, do some research to see how your product can fit with what is already relevant and newsworthy.  If my product is a health food grocery store, I would highlight trends associated with healthy eating.  So I would do some research on the popularity of organic food, gardening  or even healthy food blogs.

Another great story pitch tip that I think stands out is his suggestion to use customer case studies.  Get to know your customers and find out how and why they use your product.  Featuring your most successful and interesting cases will help ensure that your pitch gets read and possibly used.  People prefer to hear real life stories from real people as opposed to a company bragging about a product of theirs.

The final tip that Mr. Scott gives is a great reminder that journalists actually like and need our help.  If we can help them come up with a great article idea, it makes their life easier.  So take the time to figure out the best practices for media outreach and most likely you are not causing journalists a headache, but rather giving them a creative boost.

 

Advertisements

Are PR budgets under attack?

Survey responses from the PR and Measurement Survey.

Last week Wallop! OnDemand released a survey report containing information about current PR budget trends. One of the things the report revealed was that for most PR professionals, budgets have either shrunk recently, or they’ve remained static. Very few agencies or businesses have had the luxury of seeing their PR budgets grow. In fact, according to the report, 42 percent of PR pros have recently experienced a budget cut, while another 46 percent are stuck with static budgets. Only 12 percent of PR professionals have experienced budget growth in the last 12 months.   

So, what do these numbers mean? Are PR budgets under attack? Are companies losing faith and pulling their money out of PR? Should industry professionals be worried that 38 percent of communications professionals saw a company cut PR entirely in 2010?

Not necessarily. Here’s my take on these numbers…

When you pair these budget trends with the rising expectations clients have for their PR programs, it seems likely that what businesses actually want is for PR to optimize programs and produce more with less. Agencies and PR departments that can find a way to do this will be able to deliver what their clients and executives want: great results and great value.

When your clients expect bigger and better results without a bigger investment, you have your work cut out for you. In this case, you need to seriously evaluate your campaign and identify what is working and what is not. By doing so you’ll be able to capitalize on the areas of your campaign that are producing the best results. Then you can adjust or eliminate PR efforts that aren’t delivering.

Take a look at the business outcomes your execs expect PR to accomplish, and revisit the PR goals your team has set. Ask yourself how successful you’ve been at reaching those goals, and determine if there are ways to streamline efforts and make the program more efficient. Be sure to use actual data to help you evaluate and improve your strategy. When budget dollars are on the line, you want to be making informed decisions and not just guessing. The unfortunate truth is that when PR teams don’t deliver what clients and executives want, their budgets are in jeopardy, and they may even run the risk of being replaced.

Continuing to measure results and evaluate your program will allow you to make better decisions and fine tune your strategy so that your campaign will be in top working order. That way you’ll be in a position to impress clients and executives by giving them what they truly want – a PR program that can achieve more with less.

Secret #5 – Make your PR strategy more “strategic”

target strategyAs you begin devising and implementing a PR strategy, it is important to set up a system to continuously check your progress and ensure that your focus is on target. There’s nothing strategic about guessing. To develop a campaign that produces results you need to support your work with data that helps you make informed decisions. Here are 3 steps for using measurement to guide your strategy:

 1. Decide what it is that you’re absolutely committed to achieving and take action.

What results do you want to see from your PR campaign? Are you trying to increase sales, attract new customers, earn more repeat business? As mentioned in previous blog posts, a set of clear and measurable goals is the cornerstone for building a successful PR campaign. Don’t allow subjectivity to thwart your goal setting efforts. For every goal you set, ask yourself “can this be measured?” If your goals aren’t specific enough you won’t be able to measure them, and you’ll be left wondering if your program is on track. For example, setting a goal like “increase sales over the next three months” is too vague.  With this type of goal it is difficult to track your progress and know when you’ve finally achieved your objective. How much do you want to increase sales? How many sales, or what dollar amount, do you want to hit in order to feel you’ve been successful? Goals need to be black and white.

Once you’re clear on what you want to accomplish you can develop your PR strategy. It is important to build measurement into your PR program from the very beginning. That way you’ll be able to begin evaluating your progress as soon as you’ve kicked off your campaign.  

2. Measure and evaluate, notice what’s working or not.

Using measurement to shape PR strategy means pushing beyond simply tracking metrics. Instead, use the insights delivered from your measurement solution’s data and analytics to determine the actual impact PR is having on business objectives.

For example, maybe your tracking shows that you are earning a lot of media coverage. It is safe to conclude that your media outreach PR efforts are working fairly well. However, suppose the numbers also show that the coverage isn’t translating into sales, and one of your goals was to increase product sales by 10 percent. In this case you need to take a hard look at the data you’ve collected and try to determine the reason for the disconnect. Understanding which PR efforts are driving sales (and which ones are not) will help you see what areas of your campaign deserve the most attention. You can strengthen your strategy by re-working areas of your campaign that aren’t directly leading to the desired sales results. Also, you can devote more of your resources to specific tasks that have proven effective at producing sales.

Besides measuring and evaluating your own program it is worthwhile to track competitors’ programs, too. You can learn a lot by observing which PR efforts are producing results for your competitors.

The important thing to remember is that without measurement data, you’re really just left guessing about where to invest the most time and energy. Your strategy becomes more “strategic” when it is based on analysis of real campaign results.

3. Continue to change your approach until you achieve success.

In theory this sounds fairly simple, but in reality people are often resistant to changing course. Understandably, people without measurement data feel uncertain about the direction they should be moving and may be reluctant to veer from their initial plans. However, if you’ve measured, analyzed and then determined you need to make changes, you can be confident and comfortable because your decisions are based on facts, not feelings. It may take several tries and multiple adjustments to create a strategy that delivers optimum results. But, by revising your approach you’ll be able to make improvements and get the most out of your PR program.

Earning Credibility with the C-Suite: Demonstrate your understanding of the business

When executives decide to invest money into PR they do so with the idea that PR will help their business achieve certain objectives. The C-suite values business results, and showing how PR maps to business objectives is critical if you want to earn credibility and prove PR’s value. To do this you first need a clear understanding of the company’s business goals. Focusing on the company’s goals will help you produce the results executives desire so that your campaign is deemed successful.

 Sometimes PR programs produce results that aren’t considered to be extremely high priorities for the business. This happens when PR objectives are not aligned with business priorities. In this scenario, PR pros may wonder why they’re not seeing love from the executive team for all of PR’s accomplishments. But, executives wonder why PR isn’t achieving the most important objectives. To avoid this type of situation you need to make sure that business objectives are clearly communicated from the very start, and that PR objectives map to business goals.

 It’s important for PR professionals to ask smart questions in order to identify goals and priorities. Here are some examples of smart questions to ask at the beginning of each campaign:

 • What are your primary objectives for the company?

• What do you hope to accomplish within the next 18 months?

• What are the most important initiatives the company is undertaking during the

next 18 months to achieve your revenue goals?

• Is there a particular product line that you’re focusing on to achieve revenue goals?

• What are your top three priorities moving forward?

• How do you see PR as being of value here?

• How can we help you achieve your goals?

Using the knowledge you’ve gained by asking these questions you can create targeted PR objectives. This is your chance to show executives you “get it” so be sure to give quality attention to the PR objectives. Appropriate and thoughtful PR objectives will demonstrate your understanding of the client’s business goals and assure the executive team that the PR program is based on their desired business outcomes. It will also ensure that your PR accomplishments will produce the business results that the C-suite most wants to see.

%d bloggers like this: