A new year is upon us, and now is the perfect time to begin mapping out how you’re going to take your brand, business—and even yourself—to the next level. What’s one of the best ways to do this? Having a solid PR strategy.
I’ve worked for the last decade as a publicist and brand manager and I’ve seen firsthand the impact that getting great media coverage can have on an individual or business. And yet, with so many marketing tools in today’s communications toolbox, I hear the same question over and over: Why should I prioritize PR?
I’m so glad you asked. First, PR can help you get in front of your person. It can expose you, your expertise, and your business to audiences who aren’t familiar with you but need the life-changing message and offering that only you have.
Second, PR helps you (positively) position yourself as an expert in your industry or on a particular topic. Think about it. When you see that “As Seen In…” or “Featured On…” section of someone’s website and you recognize the media outlets that they’re showing, something happens subconsciously. We seem to trust the information a bit more and even nod our heads in agreement when we see the cost of their services. PR helps build trust and credibility among your audience.
Finally, PR can help you increase your reach, grow your following, build your email and subscriber lists, and (my personal favorite) impact your bottom line. As I always say, building your media bank helps build your business bank. How? As you get earned coverage in outlets that share your expertise with their readers, listeners, and viewers, these same individuals can start following you on social media, joining your email list, and even checking out your offerings. In fact, the trust and credibility of being featured in media can help solidify your product pricing and even be cause for raising them (supply and demand!).
So how can you start plotting your PR strategy for 2022 right now and build that bank? Take these four steps.
Step 1: Review Media Lead Times
If you’re not yet familiar with journalist-led teams, I’ve got you covered. Lead time is simply how far in advance a journalist works on stories. For example, lead times for national morning shows can be up to 60-90 days in advance. Certainly, there are breaking news updates and viral news stories that require a much shorter turnaround, but often these outlets are working further in advance than a few weeks. Local television stations on the other hand might only work one or two weeks in advance, especially as their community has breaking news.
Then there are media outlets like podcasts that can have much longer lead times. Some podcasts operate in a series-based format and plan episodes months in advance. They may batch-record episodes and air them all at later dates. Conversely, digital outlets like the dot com version of magazines might work 24 hours to 21 days in advance. It’s critical when you’re crafting your PR strategy to take lead time into consideration and plot your outreach to media accordingly.
Step 2: Pick Your Targets
Once you’ve determined when to reach out to the media, it’s time to pick your targets. It can be overwhelming when determining exactly who to reach out and focus on, especially when you have a limited number of hours in the day and you already feel stretched thin from wearing so many hats. I get it! The good news is that you don’t have to target 100-200 the way full-time PR pros do. Instead, you can move from overwhelming outreach to doable, relationship-building pitching by picking up to 10 media outlets or influential individuals that your audience trusts. Focus on going after those 10 for the next quarter. Follow and engage with them on social media. Consume their content and get familiar with the topics they are covering.
In an increasingly noisy world, we can’t make the news if we aren’t consuming it. So, get familiar with who they are, what they report on, and then find their contact info. This information is often available in their Twitter handle, Instagram bio, or even via their outlet’s website. Snag that info along with any important details that you can reference before you reach out and house it in one place to use in the future.
Step 3: Develop Angles
You’ve determined when to reach out and who to reach out to. Now it’s time to work those angles. Since you’ve been studying your targets and consuming their content, you should have a better idea of the topics and type of coverage they feature and can take all of that research and harness it into a great angle.
For example, perhaps you’re a realtor in a booming metropolitan city. You could develop an angle that highlights housing trends and must-have home features for homebuyers in your city—perhaps something like: 5 Features at The Top of Every Home Buyers List. Maybe you’re a small business owner that creates luxe candles and custom scents and you’re looking to get your products in more media outlets or gift guides. You might use an angle such as Gift Guide: Best Candles Scents for Every Scenario or The Candle You’ll Want to Burn All-Day, Every Day.
You want to ensure that your angle harkens back to your products, business, and mission but it also needs to be creative and relevant for the outlet’s audience.
Step 4: Craft Your Pitch
The final step to developing your PR strategy is to craft your pitch. This is the part that can be really nerve-wracking for individuals. But, if you’ve ever had to sell your view or decision on something—be it your product, why you’d like your partner or friend to try a new restaurant with you, or why you deserve a raise—you can handle a pitch to press. I promise! Like in all the scenarios I just mentioned, you are dealing with a short attention span and someone who needs the most important and critical information in order to make an informed decision.
Your pitch should be clear, compelling, and concise. You want to reference why you’re reaching out at this specific time (perhaps because the topic you can speak on is being highlighted on the national media stage or maybe there’s an awareness day or month coming up that ties into the work you do), what you can speak to and why their audience will find your expertise helpful. In your pitch, leverage elements like bullets, bolding, highlighting, and underlining to make it easier for a journalist to skim at first glance. Include any research or data in your pitch to help provide support for your angle or even highlight any previous media coverage that showcases your knowledge and credibility. The goal is to get a response to the pitch. Even a “no” is a win because it gives you the opportunity to start building a great relationship with that reporter!
PR doesn’t have to be overwhelming. I’m confident that if you take these four steps, you can start owning, sharing, and getting incredible coverage of the newsworthy story that only you have. And, you can build amazing, long-lasting relationships with reporters in the process. That’s a win for everyone!
“Building your media bank helps build your business bank.”
Image: Courtesy of Kristin Carver Smith
About the author: Kristin Carver Smith, the CEO and founder of The New Fashioned Co., has spent the last decade helping clients across a variety of industries, including sports, entertainment & lifestyle, music, publishing, logistics, and supply chain, nonprofits and for-profits–develop business strategies, communications plans and publicity campaigns that produce winning results. Her clients have appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, The Tamron Hall Show, The View, NBC’s TODAY, CNN, CBS News, FOX News, Univision and in Entrepreneur, ESSENCE, Good Housekeeping, Latino Leaders, Redbook, SELF, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, USA Today, US News and World Report and The Washington Post, among others. When she’s not helping her clients casually make the news or turn their passion into paychecks, you can find her with her nose in a book or dancing in her kitchen like nobody’s watching.
Featured image: Smith House Photo