Training for Good PR

Posted on Sep 7, 2011 in CHI Contemplation
Tags: media coverage, pr, public relations, public relations firms

Two friends are running through the dark on an early September morning. Conversation naturally turns to business, as it often does when executives get together to exercise before the day begins.

“I think we have a good story to tell,” one of them says.

Those are wise words for almost any business to consider. But the person speaking them was in a position to know. He had helped preside over his company’s recovery from a period of deep recession to a position where the firm was now stabilized and implementing strategies to generate new business.

So his thoughts turned to public relations. Another wise move.

“What would it cost to write a press release?,” the one executive asks the other.

A loaded question, to be sure. Good PR cannot be summarized in a one-sentence answer.

In fact, good public relations has many similar qualities to good distance running. To achieve success, you need to put in a lot of work before you step to the starting line.

To start, a discovery process can determine the best news angles. Next, you must determine target markets  and conduct research to identify the right media contacts. Message development and preparing the media pitch follows, and in between, you might conduct interviews with company leadership. All these steps require time and planning. But each step is worth it if you are serious about putting your company in a position for effective media coverage.

Good public relations can lead to feature stories, cover stories, further media interviews, speeches and industry prestige. But again, preparation is the key.

That means the scope and scale of the project might require media training to develop key messages and prepare executives to handle questions and communicate the story clearly. Confident executives might feel their experience in business prepares them well for handling media questions. But the perspectives of journalists and the goals of a company executive often differ. Knowing how to handle the questions you don’t want a journalist to ask can be as important as answering the questions you do want them to ask.

Furthermore, there are relationships to consider. If your expertise lends itself to being a source and spokesperson for your industry, these opportunities should be capitalized. Sometimes these opportunities already exist through relationships maintained by public relations firms who consult regularly with journalists in your industry. We all know the best business leads come by referral, and public relations is no exception. Journalists like to know who they’re talking to as much as anyone.

Then there’s the strategy for what to do with media coverage once you get it. Think about it: if you’ve worked so hard and come so far to generate media attention, it makes sense to leverage your investment rather than let it lie there. Maximizing your public relations through social media, the web and internal or sales communications channels can deliver great benefits.

Finally, documenting the process so that it can be repeated makes a whole lot of sense. Why not leverage your return on investment for future success as well?

Good PR is really all about getting other people to tell your story for you.

No serious runner would go out and compete without having first put in the miles of training in preparation for his or her target race. The same paradigm works in preparing for a public relations project or campaign. You choose your target and then put in the work to make sure you’re ready when the opportunity arises. It pays to get help in figuring out where you want to go, and how fast. And then practice. Prepare. And get a coach if you’re not sure how to train yourself for success. All the best athletes do it. Perhaps you should, too.

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