Pitching and PR Protocols Clients Should Know
Marketing and public relations (PR) should be integrated—and the best PR agencies aim to work seamlessly with your brand’s marketing department and/or marketing partners. After all, that’s the best way to produce powerful and synergistic media results.
However, certain factors in the marketing mix are unique to PR. Here, our in-house PR team shares some uniquely-PR protocols you should know, to set the foundation for a strong relationship and generate the best possible return on your PR investment.
1. Get clear on your long-term PR goals.
When you invest in a partnership with a PR agency, you invest in your public image, awareness and growth. But it’s essential to consider why and how a PR campaign can move the needle for your business goals. Although we can help you answer both, it’s important to come to the table with your own goals in mind.
For example, maybe your business has been experiencing exponential growth over the past few years and now it’s time to invest in updated messaging to ensure the way the brand is presented matches its recent growth and renewed goals—and positions it competitively among the higher caliber competitors you’re now up against. Perhaps you’re looking for an outside investment and want to position the brand as financially appealing and viable among potential investors. Or maybe you’ve created a new product or service and need to publicize its launch in respected media outlets like TechCrunch or Marie Claire, to get the word out before competitors try to copy you
Wherever you are in your business life cycle, getting clear on your “why” will help your PR agency to craft the right media angles, to tell your story in a way that aligns with your specific goals. Consider the deliverables you might like to see, such as the media outlets you’d love to appear in or a specific number of articles you’d like to land.
Of course, the “how” is something the PR agency will handle. (Think: media relations campaigns, brand activations, announcement strategies, thought leadership campaigns, etc.) To deliver the results you want to see, your PR agency will need to have an idea of what will make the relationship worthwhile to you and your key stakeholders. So, from our perspective, it’s refreshing when a client walks into the room with some strong goals in mind. Over time, your PR partner can be an asset in helping you to re-define them as your business scales.
2. Take stock of your company news.
Just as your marketing calendar is built around the company objectives, products and messages you want to promote, so should your PR planning. Round up the news you have on the horizon for the foreseeable future, and let your agency partner in on those ideas as early as possible. As your advisors, we can offer valuable insights regarding how to best position the announcement with customers, competitors and media outlets to generate maximum impact.
A reputable PR agency will have senior leaders on staff with a deep knowledge of your industry, and can offer advice to help make your company news stand out in a crowded market. Whether you’re hosting a conference featuring big players in your industry, releasing a new product, or updating your product software with new features, it’s crucial to give your agency team ample time to develop an effective media strategy.
A quick tip: It’s best to ensure your PR team has access to your calendars and that they’re equipped with a direct line to your marketing department. (If you don’t have one or if that team needs support‚ it’s best to go with a PR agency that offers integrated marketing solutions. This will ensure your brand can establish consistent messaging and content across multiple digital channels.
Work closely with your agency leads to ensure every facet of your marketing effort is amplified, to get you the most bang for your buck and make the biggest possible impact with your media campaign.
3. Be ready to move quickly.
Have you ever heard of the Golden Minute? “Golden Millisecond” is more accurate in the world of PR. Journalists and editors need to move quickly to meet deadlines and break stories. The blunt truth is, if you don’t move quickly on reporter requests, they will move on without you.
Be ready for the substantial time commitment of preparing for interviews, discussing news and strategies with your PR team, and reviewing written materials. Make sure you have enough trained spokespeople available, so your brand can offer immediate commentary on breaking trends.
If you’re unsure about the best ways to answer reporter questions, or are nervous about saying the right thing, be transparent with us! A good agency will train you on how to answer questions thoroughly, speak confidently and avoid specific topics gracefully. Your PR agency is there to help you present yourself in the best possible light, and to showcase the good work you’re doing for your industry.
When it comes to written pieces, it’s important to adhere to word count limits and specific journalist requests for image assets, quotes, customer examples, etc. It’s important to note that news writing is more concise than marketing language might be. Revisions take time, and many newsrooms are understaffed and overworked. As a result, articles that take too much time or too many follow-ups to complete are likely to be omitted.
4. Not every story gets published.
We know it’s such a buzzkill to hear this when you’re excited about ramping up a new media relations campaign, but it’s reality: not every story gets published. You might be thrilled about a certain story or pitch angle, but that doesn’t mean it’s what a specific publication is looking for at that particular moment.
Sometimes, editors might kill a story before it runs, reporters are moved to cover urgent news, or journalists lose interest in a story. Whatever the reason, not every interview you do will publish, and not every article you write will be accepted for publication.
So, be ready to work with your agency partner to invest time in relationship-building with the press. Tactics like informational interviews, introductory calls and log-lead pitching might not generate short-term results, but these strategies will be invaluable later, when you need to lean on your press contacts for exciting company announcements, securing exclusives, or offering breaking news commentary.
5. Be transparent with your agency partner.
As much as we’d love to hear good news from your brand all of the time, any savvy PR practitioner knows that’s just not the reality of running a business. Especially for companies working on cutting-edge technology, solving global issues, or breaking ground in new markets, there is inherent risk involved with entrepreneurship.
As your advisors, a PR team is there to amplify your successes and to help you navigate sensitive issues and losses. If you’re facing internal issues (staffing shortages, layoffs, social media backlash, etc.), be as open with your agency as possible. After all, a reputable agency will operate under a sound non-disclosure agreement, and can offer expert communications.
An experienced team can help develop the right messaging, if you need to break some tough news to your internal team, or help you field uncomfortable inquiries. Additionally, being transparent early on can prevent a conflict from spiraling into a crisis — so lean on us.
6. Ask for help sooner rather than later.
We speak for the best in the PR business when we say: We are crisis experts. If you are facing a crisis or suspect one is on the horizon, it’s best to be forthcoming.
Your PR team can help you mitigate the fallout and prepare the next steps to preserve your brand’s integrity when the press — or the public — comes knocking on your door with questions. It is especially critical to be transparent with your agency in these moments, to trust their expertise and be transparent so that they trust you, too.
A mutual relationship built on trust is necessary to instill confidence in your customers via your public messaging. That strategic transparency is imperative to successful crisis mitigation.
7. Be ready to amplify your wins.
Don’t let the lifespan of your PR wins end when the articles publish! To boost the return on your PR investment, repurpose your PR content on social media, your website, blogs, podcasts and other owned channels. Additionally, PR wins can be used in investor decks, signatures and sales collateral to increase your credibility with the third-party endorsement of respected industry publications. Repurposing content will save you time and money, while driving more eyes and ears to your PR placements, positioning you for another publishing opportunity.
As PR practitioners, we’re proud to share in and celebrate your media wins! The same is true for the reporters and editors who work hard on the stories you might appear in. Posting your news placements on social media and tagging the outlet and reporter wherever possible goes a long way toward building a strong rapport with the journalists in your space.
Investing in PR is a massive step for any company — and if you’ve made it to a point where your brand is ready for PR, that’s a massive win in itself! To capitalize on that momentum and secure the best ROI, ensure you and your team are ready for the whirlwind of excitement that is PR.
Unsure if you’re ready to take that step? You’re in luck! Take our PR Readiness Quiz to find out.
And if you’re ready to make an investment in PR for your brand, reach out to us here.
Trust Relations Team