Whether you like it or not, if you’re running a business, you will be placed in the media spotlight. Not only that – don’t you want to be a part of the buzz?
Regardless of your reason for making headlines, you need to be prepared.
First, however, let’s talk about why you need to be ready to master – and generate – your own media coverage.
Media coverage speaks to credibility; few public relations strategies produce brand awareness and trust faster than the coverage appearing in newspapers and magazines your target market turns to for insights and information. A recent Nielson Survey of Trust in Advertising survey revealed that people trust coverage so much that only online consumer opinions, branded websites and recommendations from people they knew ranked higher.
Coverage also plants a seed for potential action in a huge proportion of readers. Some readers might follow through by hunting down your name on a major search engine, others might click the hyperlink embedded in the coverage, while still others will recall your brand and buzzworthy tidbits as they chat with their colleagues and associates.
That recognition snowballs over time, with potential leads getting rolled up all along the way.
Pro tip: Hustle to turn your website into a lead capture machine – you could miss out on highly qualified clicks if you don’t!
PR Strategy Prep: Moments You Can Expect
With so much potential benefit to handling your time on the center stage well, it’s reassuring that there are a few events for which you can prepare.
For instance, the news media love stories about growth and change (especially those that are supported by indisputable evidence). That goes double for local businesses; publicly recorded activities like mergers and funding could mean more investment in their readership’s region, job growth, economic impact to potential clients, and more.
Not only do you want everyone to discover these moments – they’re a matter of public record. That means reporters will snap up these big moments whether you’re ready or not.
PR Strategy Prep: Moments You’ll Never See Coming
There’s a scarier variety of PR moments you’ll need to handle, as well: the PR crisis. These dark clouds settle over businesses and their employees on a daily basis, regardless of industry.
A crisis – in the form of an accident, tragedy or potential wrongdoing – will have reporters calling and asking questions. That reporting fervor is backed by a strong public interest in the “what, how, when, where and why.”
That means their questions will be difficult – at best.
Not only that, but reporters thrive on inconsistencies and conflict. They’ll compare what one person says against something someone else has said – especially when it comes to people with real power in a company or organization.
In the heat of the moment, it’s very easy to say something that you may not want to see in print.
PR Strategy Prep: Moments You’ll Want to Create
The last, and possibly best moments you’ll want to prepare for are those moments you want to create.
The opportunities for these moments are numerous, and include:
- Applying for and winning industry awards
- Securing a speaking engagement at an industry conference
- Sharing the findings of original research
- Announcing new executive hires, and more
Create Control and Unity for Each Scenario
Strategies for all of these moments boil down to three essential components: developing a set of key messages, creating responses to likely questions and training your executives in how to interact successfully with the news media.
- Generate a Formal, Consistent Set of Messages
Key messages are foundational to PR strategy because they help to control the brand identity and information people will hear and remember about your business. They also ensure consistency and help you stay focused when speaking to not just the media, but employees and other stakeholders as well.
In short, they are bite-sized summations that serve as your master “playbook” in defining what you do, why you do it and what makes you stand out from your competition.
If you’ve developed your messaging ahead of time, both you and your team will be ready to represent your brand clearly and consistently in any situation.
- Create Responses for the Hard Questions
Tough questions are a reporter’s raison d’être. When a PR crisis looms large, you’d better be ready. You can prepare by writing down the questions that worry you as well as those which you might not want to discuss in the public arena.
Then, with the help of a PR professional, come up with answers that you like and that are true. While anticipating uncomfortable questions makes for a more manageable PR crisis, having answers on tough subjects will come in handy in situations you can’t anticipate.
- Train Executives in Interacting with the News Media
The ability to present information well to the media has not always been a job qualification for executives, but it’s a necessity in the digital age.
Reporters work overtime to uncover information that will turn heads, so you’d best be prepared to deal with them in a calm, cool and thoughtful fashion. That’s why it’s crucial for your key executives to have experience answering questions of all kinds – on the record and in front of cameras.
A media training session will provide the ground rules for interacting with reporters, responding to live questioning and tying back those responses to your key messages.
Making the Moment Yours
Taking the time to prepare for these make-or-break moments will give you not only the control and unity of voice that shapes (and controls) your brand, but it will also save you untold stress and effort when they finally happen.
Would you like more help with your PR?
Gabriel Marketing Group caters to companies looking to increase market awareness and sales through the strategic planning and execution of highly effective marketing, public relations, branding and communications programs. Try amplifying your PR with our free guide, “The 5 Required Strategic Elements to Maximize PR for Your Tech Company