As sometimes solo practitioners, it’s not always easy for remote PR and Communications professionals to stay on top of the latest public relations tools, tips and tricks. If you’re lucky, you’re keeping your clients busy with new product launches, executive thought leadership blogs and articles, industry events, and interviews with media and analysts.
But it’s important to keep up to date with what’s going on in the industry, and that means frequently brushing up on PR fundamentals. Something you read will inevitably spark some ideas about how you could be serving your client even better than you are today. Staying fresh ensures you and your clients are always putting your best foot forward when it comes to media exposure.
As shown in some of our more popular blog posts over the past several months, great public relations can be boiled down to three key themes:
Positioning is how you describe the value your company delivers to its audience. It’s more internal work -- strategizing with your stakeholders around the value your company brings to your audience. Messaging, on the other hand, is how companies parlay that information to their external audiences, including customers, partners, media and analysts. Nailing down both the position and messages (backed by facts and figures that “prove” your strategy) are critical to a company’s success.
Positioning and messaging can be used in several ways, including prepping tour executives for media interviews. Regardless of whether the interview involves a general briefing/background interview, a major company news or announcement or a product or service launch, positioning and messaging should always be the foundation. Each announcement you make should be able to “prove” one of your company’s messages.
To prepare for these interviews, consider having your spokesperson explain the company’s value proposition and be able to provide a succinct overview about the company in two to three sentences. This “elevator pitch” will go a long way in helping media understand where you fit in the market -- and they’ll be able to share it with their audience.
Positioning and messaging are also critical in helping avoid a PR crisis. Everyone has worked with executives who like to “wing it” when it comes to interviews, and many PR people have been asked to walk back an executive’s comments after they appear in print. By then, however, it's too late. By having clear positioning and messaging, and concise talking points for your executive, you’ll be able to steer the conversation back in the right direction.
PR people love words, but sometimes we love them a little too much. The best advice I ever received about a pitch I wrote was from a former boss, who told me, “You need to go on a DIET! A word diet! Cut it down. Cut it short. Get to the point. Reporters will not read long pitches.” As a newbie in PR, I was slightly taken aback and thought “but wouldn’t ALL of the information upfront be appreciated by reporters?” As I put this in practice during the years, I realized I could succinctly pitch reporters AND also provide them exactly what they needed.
It’s true -- in our desire to tell reporters everything about our clients and their news, we often end up with a pitch that’s simply a bunch of word vomit. By editing and re-editing our pitches, we can easily get them to a place where reporters will take notice because all the fluff has been removed.
In addition to the pitch, however, there are other ways to get noticed by reporters. Reporters aren’t always going to respond to every pitch, and that’s OK. You still need to build a rapport with them to get to the point where they respond when the story is right for them -- and for your client.
Be respectful of their time by bringing them only the pitches that make sense for their coverage area. Although it may be difficult in today’s low-travel environment, try to connect in real life for a cup of coffee when you are in their city. And finally, be responsive when they have requests for information.
When you see an opportunity to give your new friend—the journalist—a helping hand, do it. After all, how would you feel if the only time you ever heard from somebody was when that person needed something? You'd probably feel a little put off, and it’s no different with reporters.
No man (or woman) is an island, and that’s especially true when you’re working as a remote PR professional. In truth, you need relationships and resources even more when there’s no one in the next room to bounce ideas off of. The good news is that there are support and resources everywhere if you know where to look. Where do the top PR and Communications professionals go when they need support? Or, when they need contract work?
The good news: there are tons of websites and social media groups specifically designed for PR pros to share ideas, ask questions, look for new jobs and so on. These communities and resources are gold. Make sure that you engage, participate, and add value! Get involved and see how you can help others.
And of course, for contract, full time and part-time PR and Communications jobs, sign up for a free trial at RemotePRJobs.com.