By Brian Kelley and Tommy Morgan of Sage Communications
The responsibilities and tasks of communicators, marketers and PR pros are seemingly endless. And this list seems to grow exponentially whenever your organization or client decides to launch a new product, service, initiative—or anything else that is deemed “of utmost importance.” From a PR perspective, it’s second nature to focus on media relations to amplify major announcements, but what else can you be doing to reach more of your target audience?
As PR pros, we have our go-to set of strategies and tactics that have proven to be successful time and time again. Conversely, the tools we have at our disposal are continually evolving and creating opportunities that never existed before.
So when it comes to making the most of a major announcement, how far can PR pros go to generate the best ROI for the client? From a tactical perspective, there are at least five things PR pros should consider when planning how they can amplify their media relations plan:
#1 Prime the pump, confirm your targets and be ready for anything
Before any large announcement, your plan should already be in place well before beginning any outreach. Finalize your timeline and figure out your story angles, spokespeople, appropriate targets and potential challenges.
Always know the answer to the question: “Why do these specific readers care about this news?” If you can’t answer this for a specific audience, take them out of the process—it will just cause you to spin your wheels when your focus should be on the reporters and audiences that truly matter.
Rarely does a major announcement go strictly to plan, ensure enough time for planning, development, and execution, so you are ready for all contingencies. Part of planning is ensuring that your team has a grasp on the current media and overall communications landscape. Just because your organization sees the value in the announcement doesn’t mean that the media or your stakeholders are particularly interested in what you have to say at any given time.
You must be mindful of what your audience is currently talking about and what headlines are dominating the news cycle in your respective industry. Employing social listening and media monitoring tactics will allow your team to understand the full picture when it comes to the topics of conversation capturing the attention of your audience. Successfully implementing these tactics will ensure that your announcement gets the attention it deserves and you reach the appropriate audiences.
#2 Control the conversation with a blog
Almost every organization has some form of a blog. Blogs enable organizations of any size to share relevant company and industry news, while also contributing to their SEO and other marketing-focused objectives.
From a PR perspective, a blog should be treated like any other editorial vehicle. In preparation for many events and launches, there should be an editorial calendar created to allow your team to pre-plan story ideas and content execution. This content distribution plan isn’t limited to blog copy but also includes designing interactive infographics, video and other visual elements to the blog.
With a plan in place, content can be tailored to fit each stage of the launch lifecycle – from pre-launch to follow up content. The entire process from start to finish can be documented through the use of a blog, and the messaging can be specifically tailored to highlight every key message point outlined by the team.
#3 Tell the whole story with visual storytelling
Serena Ehrlich, Director of Social and Evolving Media for BusinessWire says that “your future customers are web and mobile savvy, rely on research and recommendations, and perhaps most significantly are visually fluent and turn to multimedia first when they make a purchasing choice.”
It’s clear—any major campaign that fails to implement an integrated strategy runs the risk of missing out on additional opportunities to reach their target audience.
Visual storytelling can be woven into all aspects of your integrated outreach strategy. Regarding media relations, you can provide journalists with high-resolution photos and/or tailored graphics that support your initiative.
Furthermore, visual content can be repurposed across your efforts, including video “vlog” posts on the organization’s blog, sharing content via social media and hosting visuals on the website.
When used correctly, visuals can increase your campaign’s credibility and entice your audience to interact with your content.
#4 Connect on a personal level via social media
The world is on social media. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., the world has become somewhat obsessed with staying connected on social media platforms.
In 2018, HubSpot anticipates that live video, virtual reality and voice search will further change how individuals and organizations interact on social media.
For any major announcement, launch or campaign, social media is a must – there are no exceptions. Depending on the nature of the client and campaign, some social platforms will work better than others, but the focus of your social media campaigns should be promotion.
Social media can be used to tease an upcoming announcement, generate online conversations, gauge audience sentiment and create additional unique content – among other things.
There are a seemingly endless number of ways that PR pros can leverage social media to further enhance the reach of their campaign. A good rule to keep in mind when it comes to successfully promoting your campaign is that you must post quality content frequently and consistently.
#5 Tie it all together with a microsite
So, you’ve created a killer media relations plan that will result in top-tier coverage, finalized your blog editorial calendar, developed engaging visuals and are ready to get personal on social media – but you’re not done yet. Establishing a dedicated microsite is critical to the success of any major campaign, especially if you’re launching a new product or service.
A microsite will help create a “home base” for all of the content your team is earning and creating. It will also help to create an additional channel of communication for stakeholders and provide a source of information for those who are interested or affected by the announcement.
Additionally, from a reporting standpoint, a microsite allows you to quantify your success through the use of demographic, traffic and other metrics.
As you prepare your next major announcement, be sure to think outside of the usual media relations box. In the digital age, PR pros have the tools available to amplify and increase the value of their earned media placements. While not every campaign will require a multi-faceted approach, the integration of strategy and tactics can help ensure that no stone is left unturned in the quest to meet your communication and business goals.
Brian Kelley is the VP of public relations and public affairs at Sage Communications. A graduate of West Virginia University, he also leads Sage’s employee experience, helping shape and develop company culture and a learning work environment for all employees. Based in Washington, DC, he has over 16 years in the industry, leading award winning campaigns and programs for his clients. PR News named him Account Director of the Year in 2017.
Tommy Morgan is a public relations account executive at Sage Communications. A graduate of Radford University and West Virginia University, Tommy oversees the internship program at Sage and supports a number of Sage’s technology, education and nonprofit clients. Bulldog Reporter named him a top PR Up and Comer in 2017.