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Monday
Apr162012

How Public Relations Works

While PR is typically one of the more affordable tactics within the marketing mix, Public relations can also be an expensive tactic, mainly because the practice is much more than just picking up a phone and getting a story placed. A lot of work goes into a PR campaign including researching story angles, staying on top of what the client's competitors are doing and saying, and developing a sound strategy. PR is also about the messaging, positioning and any necessary documents including news releases, fact sheets and bios. Once the foundation is set, then your PR team will begin to "pitch" the story angle(s) to media contacts. 


A pitch doesn't become a story after a single phone call (at least, very rarely does that happen). Instead, the PR team is developing relationships with key media contacts on your company's behalf. More times than not, it takes several phone calls and emails, many follow up efforts, to secure interest in a story. From there, the PR team guides your story through until you're confirmed to be a part of an upcoming piece.

Once a pitch becomes a story, then the PR team monitors for results secured and reports back to you in a number of different forms.

With any pitch, it's important to remember that your PR team has no control over what is covered or how it's covered. This is one of several differences between PR and advertising.

Before working with anyone, no matter the budget, we put a strong emphasis on setting expectations up front. Consider covering these four key questions before moving forward with any PR program.

1. What are the top five media outlets on your wish list? Meaning: For this PR program to be a success, where will you see your name? This helps us gauge story angles, contacts, etc. before ever getting started on your business.

2. What types of outlets are key in helping you meet your business goals? Vertical trade versus consumer magazines, for example.

3.  What is your timing? Most PR results can be seen three to six months after the relationship begins between a company and a PR firm. Keep this in mind as you're planning future marketing efforts.

4. What are our goals? Define what success looks like including number of placements secured, total impressions, etc. Many PR firms will supply a number of different measurements to show your return on investment.

And finally, PR isn't just about delivering a big stack of media placements. Today, as PR counselors, we not only assist with generating media mentions, but we're also developing social media programs and serving as general strategists to assist in your overall marketing program.

 

Jenna Oltersdorf owns an award-winning public relations and design firm headquartered in Austin, Texas that specializes in media relations, internal relations, social media, and design.

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