PR AS BRANDING TOOL, PART II
In last month's column, we discussed some of the reasons why public relations programs are increasingly being used as a cost-effective alternative to advertising as a method of building and enhancing brands. In this column, we'll talk more about some specific PR activities.
Feature Stories. Story pitches can be developed for a wide range of publications, including daily newspapers and trades, as well as magazines and broadcast vehicles. Similarly, there are many types of feature stories, such as those developed for the business press versus lifestyle and human interest editors. Familiarity with a publication's editorial calendar and submission policies is critical. It's also important to develop story pitches that are timely and relevant to the publication's audience, so you need to read and identify articles that can provide a springboard for your story.
Keep your expectations for features in the business press realistic. I'm always amused by how often clients think they'll instantly find themselves on the cover of the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. As one would imagine, editors of major daily newspapers and leading online and print business magazines are inundated with hundreds of press releases and feature pitch ideas from PR agents. To be successful, a PR effort involves lots of research and daily monitoring of stories in targeted publications. The feature story pitch most likely to be heard will be one that:
In short, the more targeted your pitch to an editor and the publication's subject matter, the better your chances of getting noticed. Here are some other guidelines:
Press Protocols. Developing relationships with the press takes time and patience. There are also etiquette quidelines of which to be aware:
By-lined Columns. These are extremely effective positioning and brand-building tools. My company ghost-writes monthly columns in several customer-specific publications on behalf of key printing executives or a company's technical expert. Columns can be pitched to local media outlets that don't have staff reporters or national publications that have had to cut on-staff writers in these hard times, making them more receptive to free content by outside agencies.
Broadcast Opportunities. Don't overlook opportunities that may exist with local radio and television programs. If your brand story is compelling and you have a spokesperson who is articulate, enthusiastic (for radio), and presents well (for TV), broadcast opportunities may not be as out of reach as you may think. Again, the key to success is development of a strong brand story and its relevance to the program you're pitching.
Next month I'll discuss ways to handle negative news situations, as well as other public relations vehicles, such as promotions.
Charlotte Mills Seligman is president of Traversant Marketing Communications. The firm specializes in planning and executing integrated marketing programs for printing and allied graphic arts companies, with nearly two decades of expertise in the industry. Previous columns and issues of the company's Ti Monthly e-newsletter are posted on http://www.traversant.com. Inquiries should be directed to (415) 357-2929 or charlotte @traversant.com.
© 2003 Charlotte Mills Seligman