Take the right action to avoid public relations pitfalls
Every year, countless businesses from a variety of industries decide to take a crucial step in their corporate progression by launching a national publicity campaign. More often than not, there are a few critical missteps made at the outset that impede momentum and have a direct impact on the public relations return on investment. Public relations endeavors are an essential component to increased visibility and name-awareness, but without proper preparedness and implementation, visions of magazine covers and daily newspaper interviews can prove to be ill-fated pipe dreams.
However, there are several actions you can take to safeguard yourself from PR pitfalls and get the most out of your fledgling publicity campaign.
- Start sooner rather than later. A common misconception held by newcomers to the public relations realm is that the appropriate start date is when the final touches have been put on a new product or location. This is typically the initial obstacle that has many professionals sputtering out of the gate. Your PR campaign should begin at least four to six months in advance of your anticipated launch. Properly executed publicity involves creating a snowball-effect by ever-increasing mentions and features across a wealth of publications. By the time many businesses feel they are ready to proceed with PR, their window of opportunity already has begun to close.
- Appoint a company spokesperson. The decision to finally pull the trigger on a company-wide public relations campaign is enough to create a palpable buzz around the office. The prospect of increased sales numbers and an expanded client base as the result of increased visibility will generate excitement amongst your employees and co-workers, but the responsibility to delegate a media spokesperson is frequently lost amid the enthusiasm.
Many CEOs tend to view their operations through a prism of team-oriented achievement, where each and every member of the company provides their expertise to work toward a common goal. While this is a terrific model for fostering corporate harmony, it does not work when a reporter is on the phone seeking a specific person for a quote in the next issue. Appointing a spokesperson to handle all media matters and requests is vital to maximizing the likelihood that your thoughts and ideas make it to print. Reporters and editors adhere to strict deadlines, and in many cases, the contact that provides the content they desire first will be the source quoted in the final copy. Publicity by committee leads to confusion, dragging feet and, ultimately, missed opportunities. Nominate a spokesperson to handle all public relations activity.
- Don’t be afraid to stretch your message. There is a tendency in the business arena to begin to adopt a form of corporate tunnel vision. You become so close to your skills and knowledge that it’s virtually impossible to view things from a third-party perspective. As a result of this myopic mindset, many potentially lucrative opportunities fall to the wayside or are ignored entirely, cast aside because they don’t fit into the specific schema you’ve formed about the nature of your business or expertise.
Stretching your topic to apply to what’s circulating in the news is a fundamental facet to a profitable campaign. For example, a company that manufactures widgets may only view its audience as potential suppliers, but directing the company’s message to also include product consumers expands the audience and extends its reach. Never decline a publicity opportunity because of a perceived lack of expertise on a topic. Broaden your message to apply to avenues you may have previously overlooked.
Make no mistake about it, a carefully crafted and properly executed publicity strategy will enhance your company’s profile and provide a boon to your organizational efforts. By embarking on a PR campaign with clearly defined goals and an action plan for when the media come calling, you’re positioning yourself to enjoy the profits.
Russell Trahan is president of PR/PR, a public relations agency specializing in positioning clients in front of target audiences in print and online. PR/PR represents experts of all kinds who are seeking national exposure for their business or organization. For more information, visit prpr.net or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marketing Minutes: Get started with public relations
Marketing Minutes, the American Rental Association’s (ARA) free online member resource, can help you get started promoting your business using public relations. It starts by introducing the basic principles of public relations and then it provides additional tools to help execute each marketing tactic.
Marketing Minutes “How to use Public Relations and Advertising” includes:
- A video overview of using public relations.
- Helpful hints and templates for writing press releases.
- Public relations articles available for download.
There is much more to Marketing Minutes than just resources for starting your public relations campaign. All aspects of a well-rounded marketing plan are covered under eight total modules, including:
- Is Marketing Really That Important? Understand why marketing is important and learn to view marketing as an investment in your business instead of a line item expense.
- Developing a Marketing Plan. You wouldn’t go into business without a plan and marketing should be no different.
- How to Plan Your Marketing Budget. Marketing is an investment in your business and should generate a positive return.
- It’s All About Branding. When people think about your business, what words would you want them to use to describe it?
- Using Public Relations and Advertising. There are so many ways to broadcast your marketing message — how do you know what outlet is right for you to use?
- Online Marketing Basics. Get your share of the ever-growing online consumer market by learning how to get your message out effectively to those looking for rental stores.
- Enhance Your Site for SEO. Making sure your site is built to be search engine friendly is key to increasing your online traffic and thus converting business.
- Social Media & Your Business. With the growing popularity of social media platforms, which should you use and how does it benefit your business?
Marketing Minutes can be found under the marketing section at ARArental.org and is available for members only.