Retaining a PR firm with the expectation that they’ll hit the ground running without knowing and understanding your business from start to finish isn’t realistic.
Even the savviest public relations professionals who have worked in your industry for many years require mindshare to get started and not just from the CEO. They may need to hear from your executives, sales force, current clients, and even prospective customers. Successful PR requires a highly collaborative approach.
Besides your messaging, your USP (unique selling proposition), which by now you should be able to sum up in an elevator pitch, and your special way of doing business are all part of what you need to successfully communicate to the public – existing and potential customers, analysts, and industry influencers. Message must be same – and reinforced – in everything you produce from promotional photos to customer testimonials and delivered consistently by your executives and your sales force, and even your support team.
If you haven’t yet thought all this through or if you are missing critical pieces, like messaging, your PR people can analyze what you have and help you fill in the gaps.
All PR relationships should begin with a walk-through and, if you want to be successful, the mindshare should be ongoing.
The more we understand how your business works, along with your short- and long-term goals - from business plan to operations to customer service - the more we can tell the world why your mousetrap is so much better.
Many businesses are just in the business of doing whatever it is they do – and they do it well. However, years may have passed since the business’ communications components were critically analyzed.
Hiring a PR firm or consultant provides an opportunity to revisit the various steps in the customer communications process using fresh eyes. I have watched and helped companies across many markets from inception to IPO – and they’ve all benefitted from this process.
Intensive preparation and immersion in your company allow us to effectively plan the required communications for bringing a product or service to market – from messaging and brochures to PR, whitepapers, blogs, and social media support. Each document will deliver the compelling narratives to introduce and reinforce the unique value proposition and story of your solutions.
In reality, launch is not a one-time event. Communication continues long after the initial appraisal. Just as any successful executive will review the status of her business processes constantly, an effective PR and customer comms professional needs a pipeline into these processes as well.
Getting in front of decision makers only once isn’t enough. You must maintain your presence, as the right time for them to buy may be six months after you have introduced your technology and “disappeared.”
Keep the mindshare constant, and you can enjoy a long, effective and comfortable relationship with your PR and customer communications team – and your customers, as well.
Thus, the KISS (keep it simple, sweetie) principle reigns supreme.
- Make sure it’s newsworthy
- Use your messaging documents
- Get to the point
- Compelling writing gets read
- Tease, don’t bore or be exhibitionistic
- Human-sounding quotes, only
- Streamline the approval process
To do this, although it sounds obvious, the first and most important factor is to make sure your release is newsworthy. Remember, it has to be important to the press, not just to you.
You have to be clear about your key messages so you can get to the point in the header, subheader, and first paragraph. These should also include your keywords and SEO-oriented material. The reader should immediately know what the release is about and why it should be read and not discarded. Your messaging document should provide some guidelines. Don’t have a messaging document? You’re flying blind. Draft one or have someone do it for you, get it approved.
Make sure it’s compelling. Have mercy on your readers; they gets dozens of releases every day. Dry writing is an invitation to deletion.
Tease your readers a bit, draw them in, make them want to learn more. Let them be hungry to interview you or at least get more details.
Don’t bore them to death by providing exhaustive, granular details or specs unless you’re specifically sending it to a select few that will appreciate this. If your goal is to drive sales for your SAAS solution, your release needs to appeal to the decision makers, not the tech guy, or at least give the tech guy what he needs to loosen the pursestrings. Be clear about your advantages and ROI.
Quotes need to sound like they come from an actual humanoid. Dry recitation from one of your brochures with quotation marks does not work.
Streamline the approval process. Fifty people, including legal, shouldn’t have to sign off on a release. Too many eyes – and opinions – inflate the draft, which will then require repeated editing, often leaving a trail of bruised egos in its wake. Oddly, this is often more of a problem with early stage companies, where everyone is head of his/her own one-person department and wants to be heard.
To sum up, have mercy on your readers, especially the journalists and bloggers who are your initial audience. They’re the gatekeepers to your ultimate targets, the people you can convert to qualified sales leads.