Working with a PR firm can be an exhilarating time for a company (or nonprofit). PR can put you in the public eye like no other marketing activity. Indeed, your first time on camera in a TV news interview can be both scary and intoxicating, leaving you feeling on top of the world and wanting more.
But there are some important facts to consider as you look to uncork your inner celebrity in a series of TV interviews and news articles in 2015. And you would be wise to meet with your PR firm as soon as possible to make sure your PR plan maximizes your investment across the entire year.
Five important questions to ask your PR firm about the upcoming year:
One: What are our media placement goals?
Setting goals is as important to the success of a PR plan as they are for your overall business. Work with your PR firm to set well defined goals that are ambitious and realistic. Nobody benefits by setting extremely aggressive PR goals that can only be reached if your business name is Apple or Google. Make sure to record your goals and get your PR firm to work toward them throughout the year.
Two: Can we do a better job with social media?
Many companies have PR and social media managed by separate groups. If you outsource your PR yet have an internal social media person, then be sure to include that person in your meetings with the PR firm. If you aren’t integrating social media with your news releases and media mentions then you are missing out on social media’s ability to amplify the message and gain more organic market traction. Consider creating a calendar with your planned PR announcements and then establish a social media strategy that includes such popular platforms as Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Facebook and, in some cases, Pinterest and Instagram.
Three: Can we book speaking engagements?
Part of what PR can do for a company is to position it as a thought leader in a particular industry. Say you started a new Mobile security app for Android and iPhones; you may want to look for panel speaking opportunities for your CEO at high-profile events like SXSW Interactive or trade events held by the likes of CIO Magazine.
Four: How do we measure success?
A big challenge with PR is that it’s darn difficult to measure, at least in terms of lead generation and new sales. Still, there are ways you can measure PR like increases in website traffic to campaign landing pages, media pickups and social media mentions of news announcements. Your PR firm should be able to provide you with a monthly report on many different metrics so that you can at least see that PR is not just generating buzz but also business.
Five: How can we collaborate more?
I like to say that as PR professionals we are not mind readers. While we are adept at translating your brand’s message into ones that will appeal to reporters and editors, we can’t always know what is happening inside your business. Schedule weekly or bi-weekly calls with your PR firm to review the latest happenings (bad and good) inside the company. Only then can the PR firm know if a planned version upgrade to your mobile pet monitoring app or that new beet-powered internal combustion engine will get the press excited.
Yes, there are many more things you can ask your PR firm. But if you start with some of these then it will invariably lead to other topics.
Bottom line: the most important thing you can do to improve your PR results in 2015 is to communicate more with your PR firm and to set and manage expectations. The rest will fall into place over time, and you will still get goose bumps when you see yourself interviewed in the news.
About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded an Austin PR agency for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave directly about the PR over Coffee blog, please email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.