Whether you’re guiding a Fortune 500 company through their product release strategy, or you’re part of a three-person team working in the founder’s basement, the game is still the same for the PR professional: get the company noticed, and for the right reasons.
Public relations is a game of nuance, of ebbs and flows, of celebrating wins big and small. But the wave of pressure for PR practitioners to get coverage doesn’t always recede when there isn’t a momentous launch or event. So how do you generate press when you’re not newsworthy? If your company isn’t brand new and you haven’t released a new product in months, what is there for someone to write about?
The good news is there’s always something to pitch. You just need the right approach. Here are a few ideas to pump some life into PR campaigns during the quiet times.
Share user stories
Your users are the single most valuable tool to enhance your external communications. While it’s always juicy for a reporter when a big-name brand uses your company’s product or service, any number of user stories can make for an exponentially more compelling pitch to a reporter than your company alone.
Pay close attention to the calendar
Just like how publications create editorial calendars a full year in advance, you can do the same with your pitches based on your users and service offering. An accounting company can pitch expert tips to reporters around tax season, for instance. Holidays and known major events can be great starting points for creating pitches months in advance. Great PR takes planning ahead, even if you’re planning during slower times, and not around a product release cycle.
Be topical to current events
There’s no shame in piggybacking off of hot-button news stories when your company has an interesting perspective to share. Imagine the First Lady of the United States announces tomorrow that she thinks schools should only serve gluten free meals, and your company just happens to make a line of gluten free snack bars. Think you could find an angle to get covered? Find reporters who are writing about the story, and propose how you’re a topical choice for inclusion in the next story.
Know each and every problem your company solves
Don’t just know what your company does; know what problems it solves. It sounds simple enough, but it’s a mistake made all too often. Use these solutions to guide your story during times of slow PR, then find the reporters and publications most interested in the solution you’re presenting because it benefits their readership.
Don’t ignore niche publications and blogs
When you understand the multiple pitch angles developed by understanding every solution you solve, the next step becomes finding relevant publications. Even if what you’re offering is old news, publications looking to help their readers understand the best ways to solve a problem are still going to find your company relevant if you’re a good fit. They’ll care more about what’s valuable than what’s current.
Form editorial partnerships
One added benefit to building both your own blog and social following is using it for negotiation. Chances are, there are other great companies out there looking for the same type of exposure and might even have a robust blog and customer base of their own. If what they offer is relevant to your users as well, why not suggest cross-promoting each other? The reality is, some company blogs are going to get your company more eyeballs than major publications, but they’ll be pitched at a fraction of the frequency. Use the opportunity to get your brand’s story told.
It may seem counterintuitive, but during the “slow time” between major company announcements is sometimes actually the best time to get coverage for your company. It just takes a little extra legwork and a half a cup of creativity. This way your brand can stay in the news year round and you’ll build tremendous momentum the next time you have a new story to tell.
Guest writer Chad Reid is the Director of Communications for JotForm, a popular online form building tool. He loves all things related to cats and considers himself a professional-level rock skipper. He’s currently receiving his master’s in strategic communication from Purdue University.