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[Podcast] 3 Steps to Crafting Your PR Gameplan

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This article is taken from the Build Your Queue podcast below, Season 1 Episode 7 with David Martin, co-founder of Heed Public Relations.

You need to share your company’s story to connect with a wider audience and draw in more customers. But focusing on storytelling and public relations can lose out to other basic needs, like drawing in leads or training your sales team—especially when you’re a small business with limited resources.

How should your business approach PR to build a local presence that eventually turns national?

To set the right expectations to craft your PR gameplan, you’ll need to consider:

  • How do you define your company story?
  • What media outlets should you aim for first?
  • How will you tie your PR back to revenue?

We’ll help you answer these questions, and show you how to craft a public relations plan that makes media outlets want to work with you. Keep reading, or listen to the full audio in the player above.

PC: Journo Link

1. How do you define your company story?

Before you can reach out to media outlets or create press releases, you need to know your company’s story. A company story is a snapshot of your business’s purpose that creates emotional buy-in.

Your story impacts whether people want to do business with you (or spread the word about your services and products). It’s what separates you from other businesses that are doing similar, or the same, things.

There are three fundamental questions you need to be able to answer, before you can tell your company story effectively:

1. What does your company do?

2. Who do you do it for?

3. What makes you different?

Part of what makes your business different is why you do things the way you do.

Most likely you know the “what” and “who” to your business (everyone has a product or service they want to share with a specific audience). But the “why,” or mission behind your products and services, is the part of your company story that resonates with prospective customers.

Why should people do business with you?

So what does that look like?

Lead your story with your “why,” and the reason you exist. Frame your company story with your customers as the hero and your business as their guide to explain why what you’re doing matters.

Make this story less about your product and more about the problems your customer can solve with your product. People relate to stories the most when they can see themselves as the main character.

PC: Medium

Delta does things differently by committing to environmental causes, too. It's what they believe in that other airlines aren't doing, and it resonates with their target consumers (enviro-conscious Millennial travelers).

PC: Delta News Hub

People want to put money into companies that are invested in the things they care about. Especially Millennials, who need to know they’re working with someone who is a part of something bigger. Research has found the two most common words Millennial consumers use to describe what they want from brands are “inspiration” and “meaning.”

No matter what you’re doing, you’ve got to have a story that tells people why you do it. Once you have that story, then you can share it through blogs, podcasts, press releases, social media, and media outlets. It permeates everything you do.

Related: [Podcast] 3 Steps to Tell Your Compelling Company Story

2. What media outlets should you aim for first?

You’ve put together a compelling company story, but you can’t just shoot for the New York Times or Forbes next, probably. It may be tempting to hire an agency and put it on them to get you into big headlines when you’re a small business with a lot on your plate, but that’s not how it works.

You need to appropriately manage your expectations.

The first move in any good public relations plan is to build a solid digital footprint, so that when a reporter gets your pitch and Google's you to see what you're all about, they'll see that you're legitimate.

Start with local media first (even if that just means publishing a press release for your launch). You can also cover company milestones and community events you’re participating in. Your local Chamber of Commerce or news outlet can be great resources for this kind of coverage.

Industry outlets and publications can also deliver a lot of leads, especially if you have a product or service that adds value to that specific industry. For these industry outlets, you’ll want to:

  • Introduce your service
  • Why and how you’re solving problems
  • Present your value proposition
  • Highlight a customer who's experiencing problems and solving them because of you
  • Remember to keep the customer as the hero of your story

Local media and industry outlets are not the front of the Guardian—but they take care of cornerstones for future growth. They’re also the bread and butter big name publications will look back at before they decide to tell your story. You need these smaller publications to build your way up to bigger headlines.

3. How is PR tied back to revenue?

PR is not a transactional strategy. You rarely spend $XYZ on a story, and see a direct return. It builds your reputation and makes business development easier over time, and that can be difficult to tie back to revenue.This can be unsettling if you’re a small business with limited resources.

When you invest in something, you want to know what your ROI will be. So how do you do that with PR?

You can tie your PR efforts back to KPIs, or key performance indicators. KPIs are not directly tied to dollars, but they are a way you can track progress and make sure you’re heading toward a direction that aligns with your business's larger goals.

Some other KPIs you can track for PR include:

1. Potential reach: you take the sum of views for online publications and webpages your business is featured in

2. Share of voice: the percentage of new publications and webpages you’re featured in, compared to the percentage your competitors generate

3. Quality of coverage: the placement of your business’s mention (headline, body) in an article or news release

4. Leads: the number of form submissions, outreach, and other inbound sales conversations generated by your media coverage

If you’re using a PR agency, they need to know these KPIs so they can help you measure them. Be explicitly clear about what those KPIs are and how they align to your larger goals as a business, so you’re on the same page.

This will make both your jobs easier in the long run when you don’t have to reverse engineer later to explain how a press release or article fits into your business’s objectives. 

The last thing you want is your company and ad agency both focusing on different goals.

It all goes back to the expectations you set.

Which KPIs should you pick?

Having a network of people who have been where you are can help you determine what’s important. Draw expertise from those professionals and ask what their goals they had during this stage of their business.

Related: [Podcast] 4 Steps to Creating Your Own Professional Community

If you don’t have that network, find a successful outside vendor who has a good track record with clients. You’re looking for someone who will sit down with you and talk in a consultant fashion about supporting your goals.

You do open yourself up for hard sales from these vendors, but they know what works and can take their experience from previous ventures and apply them to your business.

Why is your company’s story important to the media?

PR isn’t a silver bullet that will instantly change your bottom line. How you engage with your customers and set up conversion funnels for them is also important. Things like customer service and quality of product also directly tie into your PR and add to your company story.

Realizing that PR is connected to everything you do, instead of something separate that you just have to focus on when it’s convenient, is key. Every choice your business makes should keep your company story and mission in mind.

Related: [Podcast] 3 Steps to Tell Your Compelling Company Story