Social media, text messaging, blogs, podcasts, videos… the list of digital communication tools for Chief Communications Officers (CCOs) is constantly growing. It can be overwhelming to ensure you are taking advantage of all the possibilities available to bolster a positive image for your company.
But, before you start using a particular medium just because it’s the hot new thing, and everyone seems to be promoting it, be sure that your traditional public relations’ (PR) practices are in place first.
Why? Traditional PR has been around a long time because it works.
What is Traditional PR?
Basically, public relations refers to getting a particular message out to the right people at the right time. Before all of the digital practices were around, PR professionals relied on simple, focused communications to let key media members, and their customers, know their top news. With traditional public relations, you:
Create a PR Plan.
It’s essential to know what you are trying to accomplish before you take action. Decide on your message and ask a lot of questions:
What do you want to say and why will readers care about your news?
Who will receive your news and why?
How will you distribute your news and when?
How you are going to measure results? Will you check a unique link on your site, responses to a particular code or phone number, or something else?
This is all basic information, but it’s essential to know this data before moving forward with any PR activities. After all, how will you reach your goals if you don’t know what they are?
Have a Personal Conversation.
See that cell phone next to your desk? It’s time to actually use it to call media members and talk to them… one human being to another. (Yikes!)
Many of you probably rely on electronic communications to get most of your work done. But when it comes to placing a feature story with a top media venue, nothing beats a personal phone conversation. You can give your pitch, listen to what the reporter has to say and really respond to what they need in real-time.
Remember, successful PR results come from providing valuable information to media members that they can actually use… and what better way to find out what that is than to speak to them via phone? It’s the best way to develop a professional, working relationship for stories now and in the future.
Once you start communicating your message, can you respond to media inquiries fast? Have your press release, facts, images, leader biographies, testimonials, and more ready to go. Most reporters, producers, editors, etc. have tight deadlines, and they will want information from you right away to complete their stories on time.
Make it easy for them to promote your business and prepare all of the appropriate documentation they may ask for in advance. After all, if your competition has a great message, and they can respond quickly to the media and you can’t, guess who will get the feature story?
When you finish a particular, PR action and a media member publishes a story about your business, don’t forget to provide a traditional thank you. And, I’m not talking about a quick email message.
If you have a moment to actually write a thank you note and send it via snail mail, and even call the reporter and thank them personally, this will really say a lot about your character. They will appreciate your effort and this will help to build your business relationship in a positive way.
Now, Move On To Digital PR.
Once you have your traditional PR Plan in place, pitch media members via phone and provide them with valuable information quickly, you can incorporate all of the digital marketing that’s available to you, too. (Just focus on what will make the most sense for your business, and spend your time on the key areas that will provide the best results.)
Public relations’ activities of the past may seem old, but they are still around because they work. Give them a try. Then, when your competition is busy trying the latest and greatest digital communication offering, you’ll be watching your feature story on the morning news!