This just in. PR is changing in a big way and companies better change the way they think about traditional PR services. It used to be that the biggest part of your PR strategy consisted of managing your press release calendar and outreach strategy to the press and industry analysts. For bigger news this often was accompanied by a press tour where you would hop on a plane and make your visit to the New York, Boston, San Francisco triumvirate. Line up a customer quote and interview and wait for the articles to roll in.
The days of the press tour are all but over for startups except for the very biggest news. There are many reasons for this, but the biggest is that print media as we knew it is over. The holy grail of trophies for your marketing communications department, a magazine cover, simply doesn’t hold the sway it once did. How long has it been since you read a magazine cover to cover? Even some of the largest papers are folding or canceling print versions. Media isn’t the same and by extension, neither is PR.
What does this mean for the startup marketing department who is trying to figure out their PR strategy? Opportunity. It helps by remembering what PR was all about in the first place. PR wasn’t about magazine covers or articles, it was about reaching your ideal audience with your message and news. The opportunity to do that has never been greater than today.
There are three keys to reaching your audience in today’s environment; content, outreach, and influence.
Content – Think like your own specialized publisher. Blogs, podcast interviews, webinars, and YouTube videos are all important to producing content that will be interesting to your ideal audience. Strong interesting content was always the key to reaching your audience. What has changed today is that you don’t have to rely upon print or other media to deliver that message. Every company should be self publishing on their own blog and other media channels like YouTube where appropriate.
Outreach – Outreach still includes the press. When you have a press release, a great reference customer, a new product launch, you should still engage the media and make your case. What has changed is that the avenue for your content is now much broader than just the press. Start with your marketing database. How large is that database? For startups this may be in the 10s of thousands and for larger companies the 100s of thousands or even the millions. What would you pay to reach a media audience like this with handpicked content that highlights your values and messaging? Your marketing database is an ideal audience for your quality content. Start with a monthly newsletter and fill it with your interesting original content. Highlight your top blog posts, interviews, videos, or webinars. Feature a customer story or upcoming events. Essentially you are publishing your own mini e-magazine with the same goal as other publications, content that is interesting to your audience. Distribute your content as well through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube as appropriate.
Influence – Understand the key influencers in your industry and engage them. These can be analysts, press, bloggers or end users with an active social media presence. I am following a new company, Traackr, that just launched at DEMOfall09 who claims to help identify the key influencers for your industry. Once you understand who has influence in your industry, connect to them through social media. Reply to their tweets and blogs. Interview them for your own blog if possible. Invite them to look at your latest release or blog posting.
The media industry has changed forever and your PR strategy needs to change with it. Don’t forget the importance of your own original content, getting it to your ideal audience, and building connections to the key influencers for your industry and you will land yourself a large helping of success.
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