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12 May 2016

What Really Goes Into the PR Process?

by Amy Bull 0

Within the last year, I have become fully submerged in the heady world of PR; both in the digital and traditional forms. At times, I’ve found myself feeling a bit like Edwina Monsoon reaching for the nearest sip of gin when the anxiety levels start to rise.

A lot of work goes into securing PR placements for clients, and so does a lot of heart and soul. That is why you should never underestimate the value of a good PR team or agency; we truly do become the brand ambassadors.

It doesn’t matter when you are undertaking PR duties in house, with an agency or a mixture of both, the end goal remains the same.

The Public Relations game has changed and in my opinion, has been shaped by technology and our demand for instant gratification. I’m not undermining the value of a well written press release, but at the end of the day…It’s really about shameless self-promotion. Most journalists and editors are picking up their emails on a smart phone or tablet and the process of downloading a large attachment just isn’t contusive to their busy working day. I think that there are far smarter ways to gain traction to your company or campaign than sending out a press release. From experience, if the piece of content that you are outreaching is of a high quality to begin with, it will naturally gain traction although there are a number of tools that can be used.

I think that twitter is incredibly underutilised when it comes to in house PR. It allows you to connect with writers and editors instantly, whilst giving you an insight into what they deem to be interesting and important. Analysing the topics that they are tweeting about gives you an opportunity to understand their opinions, values and even the language that they use – giving you a platform for increased engagement when contacting them.

Building relationships with journalists and freelance writers pays off enormously; these relationships are worth their weight in, well web traffic (and ultimately gold!) I have writers that write for high end online publications that now approach me for comments from relevant clients

Tweetdeck. I cannot covey in words just how much I adore Tweetdeck. Obviously it’s not a means to an end in the world of PR, but its serves as an effective catalyst for securing some great placements. Word to the wise – if you are planning on using Tweetdeck, get ready to do some furious typing. You are up against an avalanche of public relation executives and sometimes being the fastest to reply to the tweet goes a LONG way. My favourite approach is to attack from all angles so that they get ALL the notifications! This means said tweet gets liked, then replied too and if I can get hold of it straight away, I send an email immediately too with ‘Twitter Request’ in the subject field to ensure if gets opened.

Buzzstream is also a great tool for managing relationships. Like a CRM, it allows you to track progress with websites and influencers that you are attempting to contact, and change the status of the relationship accordingly. Buzzstream allows you to add websites to a specific list, for us its under the clients name. You are also able to make any relevant notes and tags to drill down at a later date; for instance there may be multiple angles that a client or campaign can be outreached, so tagging the site to the angle will make the outreach a more efficient process. Using a tool such this prevents other members of the team contacting the same sites for the same purpose and the data you add is shown in real time.

Personally, I find team breakout sessions invaluable. It’s easy to become so immersed in the work that obtaining an objective, rather than subjective view is a mere memory. Taking 30 (focused) minutes to bounce ideas off of other members of the team can often lead to fresh ideas forming. This in turn, results in any writers block dissolving and a rejuvenated outlook for the angle you are outreaching or the way in which you are undertaking the outreach itself. At Datify, we always come out with some really creative ideas after a brainstorming session and this validates how passionate everyone is about the work itself.

The relationship between clients and agency should not be passive. The client has an obligation to ensure their PR team or agency are kept at the forefront of any campaigns they are running themselves or any news worthy information the team can work with.

It’s necessary that all members of the business that may come into contact with any PR efforts have bought into it. If you have experienced and knowledgeable employees, they need to be educated about the value of marketing and PR; it’s not uncommon for communication to be slow because members of a business aren’t engaged with the value of PR activities and this results in high end ‘gold dust’ PR placements missed because a client has either responded late, or not at all.

This becomes an issue when relationships with journalists and editors become damaged and they blacklist the businesses that let them down.

There also needs to be an element of trust in the relationship. It really is in a PR agencies best interest to do the best job that they can for your business, so trusting them to write on your behalf (with final sign off) or pitching from an angle that you hadn’t previously thought of could make their services more efficient. Of course, no one knows your business and industry better than yourself, but how well do you know the PR industry? It’s a fast paced, sometimes cut throat environment and refusing to relinquish all control could mean energy and money is wasted.

What does PR really boil down to? Increased visibility, an increased reputation via mentions on a range of respected and authoritative media platforms. What is PR? It’s an investment that leads to returns.

Amy Bull

Content Marketing Executive at Datify