PR Planning Tips for 2014

With the holidays upon us, you may want to ponder your PR moves for 2014 over a cup of rum-spiked eggnog.

For many of us small business owners, the Holidays are a time to focus on the “Big Picture” even as we enjoy much deserved downtime with our families and friends. The funny thing is small business owners like us never truly leave our work behind, even over the holidays. Trust me, as I write this I see my friend Graham, the owner of a small engineering firm, sitting across from me at a local Austin coffee hangout sending out some invoices before Christmas hits.

So if you find yourself wondering what you can do in 2014 to stand out from the competition and stay on the minds of motivated consumers, consider creating a PR plan for the upcoming year by following a few of these helpful tips:

  1. Budget: by not planning for PR in the P&L, your chances for success are slim to none. If you decide to hire a PR firm, then research what PR professionals in your community charge and decide what an acceptable monthly expense is given your current marketing budget. Try not to cannibalize your other marketing activities in the process, however (see my next point).
  2. Marketing: determine what you major marketing initiatives are for the year and try to figure out how to turn them into newsworthy ideas. In other words, if you plan to open a new store or launch a new product line in 2014, then plan on a PR campaign to help spread the news into your community. All marketing activities can and should be supported by PR in some way or another.
  3. Calendar: another good way to ensure success is to create a PR calendar. Mark down important dates like company anniversaries, holidays that are important to your business (like Mother’s Day for a restaurant or florist), hiring plans, product launches, seasonal changes in inventory, etc. Target your PR activities at least 1-2 months beforehand to be able to identify the right media outlets with the right message.
  4. Make a List: create a list of reporters and bloggers who tend to write about your industry, either locally or nationally, and find as much of their contact information as possible. Many media outlets like local newspapers and TV news stations provide the contact information of their reporters. Bloggers and magazine journalists may be harder to find, so dig around the website and do an Internet search on their names.
  5. Twitter: an extension of number 4 above, use Twitter to follow the journalists and bloggers you may eventually pitch. If you can’t find their contact information on a website, then you can always ask them what the best way to pitch them is in a tweet. Also, following them on Twitter helps you get to know what they like to write about and begin engaging with them before you pitch them. It’s impossible to meet every reporter you pitch but at least Twitter allows you to “break the ice” beforehand by retweeting and making comments about their tweets.
  6. Follow the News: to be effective at getting news you must first be a news consumer. Are you a salon or specialty foods store in San Francisco? Stay on top of the news in the San Francisco Chronicle, Examiner, Thrillist, etc. Watch the TV news shows in the morning to learn what kinds of businesses they feature in their reporting.
  7. Study the Competition: if your competitors are getting news coverage, figure out why. Don’t be afraid to emulate their success, but do it in a way that’s original and authentic to your core principles.
  8. Network: one way to get on a reporter’s radar is to meet up with them at a networking event. Some media outlets hold events that you can attend to get to know their staff and start developing long-term relationships that could lead to future media coverage.
  9. Editorial Calendars: some media outlets publish an editorial calendar that lists the kinds of topics/industries they plan to cover in upcoming editions. Plan to pitch your stories three months in advance for magazines and up to four weeks in advance for a weekly journal.
  10. News Trends: commit yourself to follow the breaking news in 2014 to find news trends that relate to your business in some way or another. In 2013 there were plenty of trends – the government shutdowns, 3-D printing, Bitcoins, droughts, floods, Obamacare, cyber-security – to tie your business to in hopes of getting news coverage. 2014 won’t be any different. Just be ready to pitch your business if and when major news breaks and your business is somehow impacted.

Since none of us plan to fail, don’t forget to plan for a successful 2014!

[Got questions about how to plan your PR, leave your comments below…]

About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded his own Pay-for-Performance PR firm in Austin called Dave Manzer PR and Marketing in 2009 to help small businesses become recognizable brands through creative PR campaigns. He also launched PR over Coffee to provide small business PR advice so that entrepreneurs and startups could practice “DIY” PR and promote themselves to a wider audience. To pick Dave’s brain for your next big PR stunt, feel free to email him at: info(@)PRoverCoffee.com.

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