Public relations campaigns require a whole lot more than just sending out press releases — or at least, they should. Mass emailing and cold-calling can get you only so far. If you really want your PR strategy to be effective, you'll need to put more effort into networking, creating content and crafting pitches.
Want to make the most of your PR campaigns? Follow these expert tips from business owners and PR pros.
Get to know the media
Blindly sending out mass pitches to every news outlet you can find might get you some coverage, but it's much more effective if you take the time to establish relationships with journalists at relevant media outlets. This means researching who covers which topics, finding out what interests them, and making personalized pitches.
"My best tip for planning and running a PR campaign is to get to know the journalists or targets you'll be pitching ahead of time," said Tami Brehse, freelance PR and digital marketing consultant. "Learn what they like to cover. Follow their stories and actively comment on them."
You should also try interacting with them on social media to get more of a feel for their personality. Brehse suggested adding them to a Twitter list dedicated to their niche.
"Build an actual relationship so that when the time comes when you're looking for coverage of your latest campaign, you're reaching out to an acquaintance rather than just cold-calling a journalist who has no idea who you are," Brehse said.
Develop a brand voice
Every successful brand needs to have a unique brand voice that is tailored to their audience. It doesn't matter what your brand's voice is, so long as it works for your business and you maintain it.
"Be true to your brand voice," said John Znidarsic, senior director of social influence at The Adcom Group, a marketing and advertising agency.
"If you are disruptive, then be disruptive. If you are more reserved, that can work too," Znidarsic said. "There is nothing worse than a PR campaign that reeks of inauthenticity. Be interesting. Have something to say. But, make sure you are saying it in your brand voice."
It's also important to keep in mind that just because one brand is saying something, it doesn't mean you need to be saying it, too. Stick with what works for you.
"Say what you feel — not what you think someone in your position should be saying," Znidarsic added. [The Big Three PR Tactics That Just Don't Work Anymore ]
Get your website ready
Before you run a PR campaign, Sam Anthony, co-founder and director of development at Web agency TheSiteEdge,said you need to make sure your website is prepared.
First, Anthony said you should make sure your Web hosting can withstand a surge of thousands of visitors.
"I cannot tell you how many times we have seen websites get [what we call] the 'PR hug of death,' where they hit the jackpot with a media placement and then their website crumbles from the traffic," Anthony said. "Not only does the PR campaign suffer, but it hurts your general reputation and makes you come off as less trustworthy."
You also need to make sure your website is set up to take advantage of any extra publicity you get as a result of a campaign — this means offering deals or exclusive content to visitors.
"Capture email addresses with an offer people actually want to take advantage of by giving them a PDF resource that truly offers value," Anthony said. "Or have a sale running to ensure you are in the best possible spot to begin a business relationship with as many new customers as possible. Whatever your goal is, you just need to ensure that you put as much effort into capitalizing on the PR as you do setting up the PR opportunity."
Follow the 10/80/10 rule
While you're crafting your pitch, you need to maximize your time. Ben Landers, president of online marketing company Blue Corona, suggested using the 10/80/10 rule to make the most of your campaign and maximize the return on your time.
"I spend roughly 10 percent of my time connecting whatever we're promoting to a trending topic," Landers said. "I spend 80 percent of my time crafting the story and researching the journalists I'm targeting -- their recent stories, areas of interest and anything else I can use to connect with them on a more personal level."
Then, when you've finished your research and crafted your story, that's when you launch your campaign.
"Once I've done all this, I spend the remaining 10 percent of my time actually doing outreaching and pitching," Landers said.
Get the CEO writing
You won't always have newsworthy press releases to send out, especially if you're a smaller business, so one way to get recognition for your company or clients is to blog and write contributed content for other media outlets.
"One of the most difficult parts of doing PR for a small company or startup is that no one has heard of your company," Maizie Simpson, PR and editorial professional at Magoosh, an online test prep company. "On top of that, you're probably not constantly churning out huge product releases like Apple or Google."
To keep your company afloat in a sea of press releases when you have no news to announce, Simpson said you should establish the CEO of your company or the client you're working with as a thought leader in their industry.
"Help him or her create thought-provoking and authoritative articles related to his or her area of expertise, then publish them on your blog or pitch to a bigger publication," Simpson said. "Either way, it'll help get your company's name out there, gain some valuable links for SEO, and give you something to promote in your slower news seasons."