How NOT to Fail at PR

10 Suggestions to Get PR Attention

I’m the belle of the ball at least as far as PR folks are concerned when I attend conferences as a ClickZ columnist. While this attention may be welcomed especially when I’m challenged to find a column topic, the problem is that many of these PR representatives haven’t done their homework! Tightly focused on their need to get their client mentioned, many of these professionals totally ignore my objectives as a writer.

10 Suggestions to get PR attention

PR is a cost-effective marketing technique that can build your brand and eventually revenues. As a marketer, I’m surprised since these PR professionals and the clients they represent are wasting a good opportunity to make a contact and build a valuable relationship that can yield long-term benefits for everyone. Here are my top ten suggestions for win-win press engagement:

  1. Know writer’s name and publication. Don’t send a mass emailing. I’ve received numerous communications where my name and/or the publication’s was wrong.
  2. Understand why you want press attention. This means knowing what your clients does and why it should be of interest to the columnist’s audience. Believe or not, when I asked one press caller what his client did, he apologized that his firm had just signed the client and he didn’t know. While he promised to find out, I wondered how his firm got the job and what marketer would let a PR person pick up the phone without knowing that information.
  3. Read articles written by the person you’re contacting. Get an idea of the writer’s focus and what you can best offer him/her. A PR person who does this gets my attention since it’s flattering and I don’t have to think too hard about how your pitch might be useful.
  4. Understand online etiquette and communications. While you may occasionally mass email your press list, apply good email marketing techniques to yield optimal results.
    • Allow reporters the ability to opt out of your press release mailings which they may consider spam.
    • Don’t send a mass mailing where everyone’s email address is visible in the “To” line. This violates recipient’s privacy and doesn’t make the recipient feel special.
    • Don’t add press members to your firm’s on-going email with no notice or permission.
  5. Make your company stand out. Since many firms make major announcements at trade shows, assess whether this is the best way for your firm to stand out from a marketing perspective. Consider whether there’s another angle that could engage the press when there’s less news happening.
  6. Become a resource for writers. As a columnist, a supportive PR professional is worth his/her weight in gold. They help me across the breadth of my needs and I know that they or their staff will get back to me promptly.
  7. Build long-term relationships. One PR manager persuaded me to speak to a senior executive at a marketing show with the understanding that I didn’t plan to write about their firm at that time.  A month later when I needed a resource for a column I reached out to this executive since I knew him.
  8. Follow up when you receive press mentions. Send an email thanking the writer, tweet the article, and/or add a comment to the piece. Use this opportunity to extend your relationship with the reporter/columnist.
  9. Include an online PR center on your website. Give writers the ability to reach out to you using their preferred means of communication, email or phone. Columnists don’t always write on a 9-to-5 schedule in your time zone. I’m always surprised at how difficult some companies make it to contact them when I want their input for a column.
  10. Don’t be a nag. Accidentally, I responded to a major PR firm’s representative only to discover that I knew the company and didn’t admire their work. Despite a post-show conversation in which I explained this, this PR person called me monthly to check if I would write a column about this firm without suggesting any relevant story ideas or new ways to discuss her client. What a waste of my time and her fee!

Build your relationships with writers and bloggers before you need them. Find out what you can do to help them and they will call you the next time they’re writing about your industry.  Remember that a good PR relationship helps both the client and the writer.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Related links:
Help A Reporter Out

Photo credit:  Juliana Coutinho via Flickr

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