Public Relations can be daunting for any company that’s just getting its feet wet. There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to understanding the various elements of a successful PR campaign, especially on how each tactic plays into the overall positive positioning of your company in the public eye.
Now that I’m nearly 20 years into my PR career, I’ve heard just about everything from clients who want to better understand what value they get from hiring a PR firm. For the most part, these questions are well-intended, and they’re key to establishing healthy client relations. You never want to lead a client astray or leave them clueless as to why you are recommending “ABC” in order to achieve “XYZ.”
Sometimes it might take a little more hand-holding and upfront explanation to educate clients on the intricacies of that which is public relations. My advice? It’s time well spent making sure things are clear for all parties, before getting too in the weeds in a campaign and realizing the key players don’t understand or see the benefit of having you at their table.
This conversation is one we delve into a lot on The PR Wine Down podcast. My co-host Laura Schooler and I routinely cover the top questions that come up from clients. Now that we have a running list, I figured it would be helpful to include a mini roundup here on the top three questions we get time and time again from clients – and how we answer them.
Q: "How can I prove the ROI of PR?"
A: This is subjective and while I’d prefer to avoid the canned “it depends” response, it truly does depend on the client and their overarching goals. In my opinion, the best way to measure the return on investment of PR is to first determine what the company’s PR goals are. For example, if one goal is to edge out the competition and gain more share of voice within the industry, you may measure your ROI by ensuring that your company is mentioned in the same articles as your competitors. Or perhaps your goal is more focused on making sure your key messages are carried through in the articles that mention your company.
It’s a common misconception that success in PR is measured by the number of media hits secured for a company. I don’t find this to be the most efficient way to measure ROI, considering there are many different types and tiers of outlets. Sure, it is important to land articles in publications that reach the company’s target audience and therefore could make a lasting impact by enhancing brand awareness; however, there are PR agencies that count media hits in outlets that are not geared toward their intended audiences, or are completely out of left field. It’s important to be strategic in how you pitch a client’s story to the right reporters.
Q: "Should we pay to put this press release out on the wire?"
A: Like I always tell clients, putting a press release on the wire doesn’t guarantee an interview or coverage. While big-name brands and publicly traded companies may pique the interest of reporters by issuing a press release, it’s much harder for startups and smaller companies to do so. In most cases, I would recommend if the announcement is newsworthy enough and budget isn’t of concern, then yes, we would issue the press release over the wire --but not without a targeted media approach.
What I have found to be the most helpful is to send the press release under embargo to select reporters, before it goes live. This gives them a “sneak peek” and time to think about a story. That way, they can ask any questions about the news in advance, and get an article published shortly after the announcement is put out over the wire.
Other advantages to putting a release on the wire include increased SEO visibility and backlinks, and a way of leaving your company’s digital footprints in the sand.
Q: "Can you focus only on top-tier press?"
A: It’s not common that a company has enough “news” of national importance to consistently land placements in only top-tier media. If your company has a major announcement or an informed comment, or a hot take on a current event, you may get lucky in securing an interview with national media, or in newsjacking and securing a contributed quote in a top-tier outlet.
There is value, however -- especially for startups -- in having articles in what some may consider lower-tie publications, such as local and trade media. These “low hanging fruit” placements can leave a breadcrumb trail for establishing brand awareness, and help a company show continual progress and sustained momentum. Over time, these types of placements help your company go from a “nobody” to a “somebody,”and can generate interest among national media. This is especially true when top-tier reporters Google the company name and see that it is, in fact, a legit company that has been covered in a variety of credible industry and local publications.
That’s a wrap for this mini roundup of the top questions our clients ask. Be sure to check out more episodes of The PR Wine Down podcast for more information, as well as our blog for future client question roundups.
Also, if you’re ready to take the dive into PR for your company but have more questions that weren’t covered here, feel free to reach out!