A Guide to Good PR for Scientific and Technical Organizations.
PR is easy, PR is cheap and a well planned PR strategy can benefit any business, but don’t let the dazzle of Absolutely fabulous or expensive “gin palace” agencies distract you from what is a relatively straight forward promotional technique. Below is a list of five key points to help you become professional in PR.
1Who exactly are your audience
Who do you want to read your Press Release. Write down a list detailing demographics, job titles and functions of your target readers. For example are they users of your products, potential investors, or potential customers. Once your list is complete ask your self this question? Can all these stakeholders be accessed from one type of publication. If the answer is no, you will need to write multiple releases that target each stakeholder group. Yes this will be more work but it will mean that your communication will be more relevant to your target audience, more likely to be accepted by an editor and more likely to be read.
2 What do they read.
This is where those who are proficient in PR and the media earn their cash, knowing what publications people read takes research. As a starting point use your gut instinct. Ask for the media packs of titles that you suspect your targets read. Get a breakdown with regards to circulation numbers, distribution frequency and what research a publisher has conducted on their own titles. If you are thinking of using print media, ask for at least three printed copies so can look at the quality of the magazine over a defined time range. If you think the magazine is boring, too thin, or too advert heavy so will your target audience. Avoid magazine that appear to be failing (i.e. falling page numbers or distribution) and avoid at all costs publications that do not have audited readerships. Buyers beware.
Approach your research with an open mind, and also look at online and social media.
3 Adapting the message for online media
Digital media allows rapid communication, more accurate targeting (via SMS and Email) and quicker campaign evaluation. Digital also allows flexibility, and personalization of messages to smaller and smaller segments but to be effective online media messages need to be a little different. You should incorporate SEO, Keyword research and inbound marketing into your press releases, such as links to your website. Online message may also be read on a phone, or other mobile device, where there may therefore be limitations such as image type and size, so they need to be quick to load, read and action. Offer the reader the option of downloading a pdf of the full article, and place this offer within the first paragraph.
Accept the fact that digital is today and the future. Online should be your priority, print secondary. Google deniers will destroy your business.
4 Developing the correct format and media relationships
In the past I used to edit the news section for two medical publications. We would typically print news items of approximately 150 – 200 words. So why did PR agencies persist in sending items 2000 – 3000 words in length? They were too long, the agencies was simply wasting the clients money. If I needed 200 words I would use the opening paragraph and the rest would go in the bin
If you are targeting a specific title, find out in advance how many words they require and in what format. The more closely your release matches the format of the publication to more likely it is to be used. Speak to editors, build relationships, don’t just mail merge a release and follow it up with a hard sell phone call. Make friends and influence people, work with the editor.
The same goes for online although with online you may also need to speak with people call Webmasters. Reciprocal link building is more effective than just putting a spam comment on to a blog. Get to know the people who run the sites you are interested in using for your online PR. Pick up the phone.
5 Know when and why it could be time to call in an expert.
In my opinion there are only two reasons to call in the experts. Firstly you don’t have the internal resource to manage your own PR campaign, and secondly you need help building media contacts. Lets get real a PR agency does not know more about your business, market or customers than you do. PR is not rocket science. Its process driven. Agencies are no better at writing editorial copy than you are, or building relationships with experts in your field. However agencies may have resource and contacts that could help you.
In conclusion as with any marketing technique you need to start with well defined clear objectives, KPI s aligned with your objectives and a mechanism to measure results. Only then can you effectively evaluate your campaign to identify areas that worked well and not so well providing you with a framework for continually development of your commercial messages. PR is for everybody and not just the experts…Pass the Bolly….