There’s nothing worse in PR than a well intentioned campaign to launch a new product or service that doesn’t quite make it down the track, but rather falls off of it due to lack of planning and strategy. When it’s time to announce a major company milestone, a significant upgrade to a flagship product, new product or service offering or research results (e.g. survey findings), please involve your PR team early in the process. This is essential as the sooner the PR team has the information, the faster we can go about developing a strategy to communicate the news to your target audiences. Rushing this kind of announcement is not advised as you risk upsetting journalists and miss out on securing coverage.
Here are four steps to follow to ensure your communication campaign is a success:
Do this as soon as possible. It’s not necessary to have full and complete details to get a plan underway. Even with minimal information, your PR team can determine the strategy and tactics to communicate your news. This is a good time to collaborate with the appropriate members of your internal marketing, PR, digital media and, if applicable, product team. Assign responsibilities so that everyone knows their role and how they’ll help make the campaign a success. Build out your timeline. For example, if you know you’ll have the survey findings approved and finalised by the end of June, April/May is when you want to be developing content and building assets that will support your communication efforts. You may wish to consider offering the news to a selection of media under embargo, to generate interest ahead of the actual launch date.
The more aligned PR is with marketing the better. If this will be a global campaign, it’s critical you schedule a call or meeting with counterparts in each geography to coordinate the roll out. The PR team should stay in contact with the marketing team to make sure they are getting the content needed to write a press release that will likely serve as one of the main communication vehicles. At this stage, a launch/go live date should be chosen and marketing/digital assets should be well on their way to completion. Designate a company spokesperson and begin developing the key messages they will deliver to media contacts.
Backtrack from the launch date that’s been selected and aim to have the press release completed and through all internal approvals so it can be embargoed and pitched to target media one to two weeks in advance of your announcement date. Calls and meetings with interested journalists should take place with the designated spokesperson while the release is under embargo. This will ensure coverage goes live on the same day you’re announcing your news. Issue the press release and conduct any follow up. All marketing assets (i.e. landing page, ebook) should be live and available to support press outreach.
The two weeks following the announcement are the best time to post on social channels and get as much leverage as you can from the news. This is also a good time to offer bylines and create blog posts that showcase what has been announced in creative ways. For example, feature a customer story or create a listicle that features five ways your product/service can solve an industry/prospect customer challenge.
We’d love the opportunity to help you develop an effective communication campaign. Let’s connect. Email Rahme on email@example.com.
It is essential to measure your public relations (PR) programme to enable you to measure, improve and understand how effective your PR programme is at achieving the goals and objectives you’ve set for it. PR is an investment that can have a significant ROI (return on investment).
In the past, measuring the effectiveness of PR has been a less than scientific and reliable undertaking and we’re happy to say things are starting to change for the better. That said, there are still some PR professionals that are still only tracking impressions as their means of measurement, which can be very limiting - it’s time to expand beyond this.
Impressions are a snapshot of the potential size of the audience reached, which can be helpful to a certain degree, but they don’t indicate the effectiveness of strategic PR efforts.
The overarching goal of the PR programme is to build an engaged audience—people we can reach with a client’s key messages and connect to the company brand via various communication channels. To determine whether your PR messages are reaching your target audiences, we recommend tracking the following PR metrics:
1. Key message alignment: With this metric, media mentions are evaluated based on whether or not they include content from various media pitches that have been created in support of, and aligned with, the company’s marketing goals. They are graded on a scale (1-3) with three being a prominent mention that includes key messages in the placement.
2. Content quality: The quality of earned media placements is key. Two different metrics are tracked to evaluate the quality of a media mention:
Sentiment Analysis: what is the tone of that mention? Evaluated on a scale (1-5), this is the level of positivity (5) or negativity (1) of the company’s inclusion in the media article.
Prominence: how often does a mention (company name or product name(s)) appear in an article? Was the company name part of the headline or buried deep within the copy? Was a subject matter expert/thought leader from the company quoted? Does it include links to the company website or to content assets (i.e. ebooks, blogs)?
Together, key messages and sentiment indicate how well the company brand is being received by and featured in the media. This directly impacts how your target audience(s) understands what the company does and informs their perception of your brand story.
3. Share of Voice: Share of Voice (SoV) looks at your media mentions compared to those of your competitors. This metric is about understanding where the company brand stacks up against competitors. It’s best to track SoV based on executive thought leadership content and only count coverage that features executive commentary, bylines from executives/subject matter experts or executive profiles from the company. This will provide visibility into what is resonating and where there may be opportunity to adjust or change course with PR messages.
We’d be happy to discuss the best approach to measuring your PR programme - just contact Rahme via firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how we can assist.
In theory, do what you love, love what you do is a no-brainer, but in practice is this true? PR is fast-paced, high stress and incredibly demanding at times, and while those of us at TechComms both love and hate the reality of this, we’ve chosen this profession because we know we make a positive impact for our clients every day. This is what drives us to do our best. When we’re happy at work, we are more productive and engaged. So, how did our team get to this enlightened, happy place? Here’s a few of the top tips that we live by to ensure our office stays a happy one to work in:
Choose client work carefully.
We can’t be all things to all clients. When we specialise and become experts, we provide better service and we keep from running around the office all day like our hair is on fire! ‘No’ is a perfectly acceptable response to a client if what they’re asking for is far outside the scope of what you can deliver. However, you should always manage clients’ expectations so that they know from Day One exactly what you are able and willing to do for them, to avoid unmet expectations. Falling into the trap of overpromising and under delivering hurts your personal brand, and impacts the brand reputation of the consultancy you represent. So, it’s far better to make wise choices when it comes to the client work you accept.
Make sure you’re working with a supportive and collaborative team.
Does the team you work with have your back? Do your clients embrace you as part of their extended team? Are you being appreciated for your efforts and the contributions you make? It’s important to take stock of this periodically to make sure you have the right support system around you to lean on and learn from because, without it, being a happy PR becomes more of a challenge. Taking time out to socialise with your team is important, for example having a cake when it is someone’s birthday or going out for a Christmas dinner together. We do that sort of team bonding lots here at TechComms, and it’s made our team closer and stronger.
Make work-life balance a priority.
We can’t stress this enough: you must do what the airline attendants tell us and put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others. When you’re not taking time out of your busy working week for self-care and the pursuit of outside interests, it shines through - and not in a good way. It can make you more anxious, short-tempered and less open-minded to new ideas. So, we always recommend leaving your desk to go and make a cuppa, signing up for after work activities or volunteering. Most importantly though, and this is something that even our MD stresses, make sure you enjoy your time off work when you take leave. Go enjoy yourself and spend time with family and friends. Come back refreshed, renewed and ready to impress your clients.
Know your superpowers.
We all have strengths and weaknesses. The secret to fulfilment at work is focusing on what you can do well. How can you best contribute to the cause? For example, perhaps you’re a social media warrior, but when it comes to making phone pitches you feel more like hiding under your desk. Instead of putting yourself through the misery of it, talk openly and honestly with your team about where you’d like to focus your energies to support your clients’ PR needs. Then, go off and do an amazing job at what you do best.
In the digital world we live in, it’s impossible to miss the power that social media now has over our collective consciousness. Never before have we had more platforms for engaging audiences and sharing our stories. Approached in the right way, social media outreach can be incredibly effective for taking your PR programme to the next level.
Here are 3 ways that social media can be leveraged to help build brand awareness:
1. Strengthen relationships with key media and industry influencers: It’s really important to actively follow target media, industry analysts and influencers. It keeps you up to date on what they are covering and the kinds of articles and news items they write on a regular basis. You may find opportunities to comment on posts and establish yourself as a source of relevant information on topics they cover. And when a reporter sees that you are one of their followers, it may help forge a faster connection the next time you speak with them or meet them at an industry event.
2. Craft more cohesive and effective PR campaigns: Social media complements all other types of outreach you would traditionally do when making a news announcement. Giving the campaign a specific hashtag helps to focus your efforts and gives employees - beyond your marketing and in-house PR team - a way to promote company news or new products and services. The use of a hashtag can also engage customers and a good example is the #widgetforthat hashtag that one of our clients used to put their own spin on their promotional campaign ‘There’s an app for that’. Alongside our client using the hashtag, their customers, partners and even some media professionals used it throughout the PR campaign to tweet and re-tweet with great effect.
3. Manage company reputation and amplify stories that can’t be told on other mediums: With so many eyes watching every move you make and ears listening to every word you utter, you want to make sure you’re posting thoughtful, brand relevant information and showing you’re a good corporate citizen. Social media is also a great channel for sharing stories you couldn’t write about in a press release or likely wouldn’t be covered by the media - like when your employees team up with one of your customers to volunteer for a day at a favourite charity and the story behind that. But that story is one you can most definitely share via your social media channels, along with photos from the day, and your followers will enjoy learning more about the people that work with your business.
Our take on the key social media channels for PR:
· LinkedIn: Provides an excellent medium for enhancing your thought leadership positioning within your specific market. Creating a company LinkedIn page is highly recommended as it can often be the first impression people have of your organisation before they take the time to visit your website. Regularly posting on LinkedIn and encouraging people in your organisation to share posts with their professional networks increases your reach and builds awareness for your company.
· Twitter: Love it or hate it if you’re not part of the twitterverse you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to engage with your target audiences and even improve employee relations. Tweeting on a regular basis about interesting articles or events in your industry can also go a long way toward establishing your company as a thought leader.
· Instagram: Works best if your brand has good visual content to share – like photos from that charity day your employees volunteered for. Companies in the business to consumer space are likely to have more success engaging with target audiences as compared to a company that is in the business to business arena. Regardless of whether you’re B2C or B2B though, Instagram is useful for showcasing company culture, which can help you connect better with customers and prospects.
· Facebook: On a case by case basis, Facebook can be a good channel for specific news items or company events. We tend to think of Facebook as being more fun than the other social media channels so, in addition to news and company events, we share team lunch and Christmas party photos on ours. If you’re not sure whether Facebook is right for your business, ask your PR team for advice on how extensive your Facebook presence needs to be.
With all of these social platforms, it’s important to keep in mind the level of effort needed to keep them up to date and relevant. Designating a digital media champion in your organisation can help. This person can work closely with your PR team to ensure social media outreach is working best for your company. It’s also essential that your company has a social media policy in place to ensure all employees know what is acceptable for posting and sharing, and the importance of representing your brand and company vision with integrity.
At TechComms, we’ve worked successfully with clients to create social media strategies that complement their marketing and PR goals. We’d welcome the opportunity to work together so contact us via email@example.com to see how we can help you create one for your business.
One thing we can count on in business is change. Sometimes these are small changes—minor tremors that shift the balance and other times they are seismic shifts like in the case of a company merging with another company or being outright acquired by a company or investment firm. When times are A-Changin’, your PR team can be your best ally in helping to keep the transition smooth with both your internal and external audiences.
First things first
We’ve stressed this before in our blog: Five Ways to Strengthen your PR Relationship, but it bears repeating –the earlier you engage with us on big news the better. We are under NDA. We will not share or leak or do anything that could jeopardise the announcement of your news. We will NOT do this. So please call us as soon as possible and give us as much background and details as you can. While your internal team is working on the FAQ documents, customer communications, etc., we will get to work drafting a press release. Often times nailing the press release messages can be the best way to approach your overall communication strategy. It forces everyone to stop and think about how you want this news conveyed to your public audiences and the words your executives will use to deliver key messages.
Working with the other side
Once we have a solid press release draft, it’s time to begin coordinating with the other company both their marketing and PR teams so that everyone can get on the same page in terms of what messages will be communicated to the media, who will be the spokespeople and how you’ll team up or support each other in press briefings. For example, will both company spokespeople jointly do press interviews or will one company take the lead? We can then create press talking points for the designated spokespeople. It’s important for the PR teams for both sides to be allowed to collaborate on the announcement to ensure there is no double pitching to key media targets and the PR outreach is shared effectively to maximise the PR placements. To ensure a successful outcome (aka positioning this news event positively), it is imperative that competition (and we do appreciate at times we are actually having to cooperate with competitor agencies) and egos do not interfere. There should be a shared feeling of ‘we’re in this together and we all want the best outcome possible.’
Post news announcement
Once the press release has been issued and the day-of press interviews have taken place, it’s time to take stock of how the news is being received with the media, your customers and your internal teams. Your customers and internal employees are your primary audiences following the initial news announcement as they will long-term feel the biggest effects of this change. The worst thing you can do is go dark while you figure out how to bring two companies together or work with a new company overseeing your brand and product direction. Keep announcements you had in queue rolling and be sure to actively update your key media targets with any news.
At TechComms UK, we have extensive expertise helping clients masterfully prepare for and execute successful PR strategies related to mergers and acquisitions. Please contact us to learn more.
There is often confusion on what the difference is between AR and PR and how to best manage an AR programme. In the first part of this series, we looked at the do’s and don’ts of analyst briefings. In the second part, we are now going to share some best practices that can bring you some great results.
Have a strategic narrative
The story and message has to make sense and be relevant.
It is easy to fall into a tendency to provide the basic information, an architecture map and a cursory note on customers. But there needs to be an overarching theme and a strategic vision for the business. For the presentation to have any impact, the content must match the strategic vision. Without this approach, the client’s briefing will meld into the 20 other briefings that week with varying degrees of impact.
Foster a business relationship
Analysts are business people as well as industry researchers. They will have one eye on their existing client base, another on potential new work. The briefing is not just a (largely) one-way flow of information. It is also an opportunity for the analyst to help your client with potential consultative work or bespoke research in the future.
Budgets or plans may not allow this at the start, but it is worth remembering, the analyst is likely to contact you again for a regular update and suggest areas where your client may benefit from a strategy session, a custom report or speaking slot at one of your events.
Keep in regular contact
One of the regular gripes we hear about from analysts is the refrain that after the briefing, the analyst never heard from the client again. This results in an analyst being interested but unfulfilled. PR agencies have the bad habit, on occasions, of only organising analyst briefings around an industry event (Mobile World Congress (MWC) is a good example) and effectively by-passing analyst relations activity for the rest of the year. Until MWC comes round again.
That’s just one example of the damaging effect of not maintaining the analyst relationship. When a client is planning an analyst event, it’s chances of securing analyst attendance are increased if they have kept your target audience regularly informed. After all, why should they attend if they hardly know you? So, in short, have a structured analyst relations programme that values the analyst.