Most companies go through quiet periods when their news output—product announcements, partnerships or customers, etc.—is limited. However, as PR professionals, part of our job is to know how to maintain our clients’ presence in their respective industries during these times.
Our clients are invested in our ability to work with them even when they’re not coming out with major news.
If we are able to consistently keep our clients in front of their key influencers and establish them as thought leaders, then it will only make our job easier when they do have news to share.
The high-tech industry, where I have worked in PR for several years, can be somewhat slow moving in terms of hard news, due to the nature of a crowded marketplace; partnerships with well-known brands, which can make the release process move at a snail’s pace, and long R&D periods, are often the culprits.
Within that framework, I have developed the ability to position my clients as thought leaders and keep them in the news year-round. While some of the examples below are derived from my own experience, the concepts can be applied to any industry and any client.
I realize that everyone knows that PR professionals should be interacting with key media and analysts on all the different mediums such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s old news.
But following through on this when you’ve got other, more pressing items is a different story. And if you manage a team, you’re responsible for that interaction and making sure everyone else is doing it, too.
Instead of simply hoping it’s getting done and waiting for potential results, PR professionals should be strategic about this outreach.
Create a list of the top 20 influencers for each of your clients, and split them up among your team members. You can make sure everyone is interacting with their contacts at least twice a week by having them mark it down in a shared spreadsheet.
As for the interaction, I don’t think it needs to be reserved for social media, as this type of relationship building goes far beyond that.
While interacting on Twitter or Facebook is certainly valued, you and your colleagues should also be actively (and intelligently) commenting on an editor’s articles or sharing recent analyst reports.
I also suggest giving these contacts a quick call or shooting over an email every once in a while to say hello, congratulate them on a noteworthy accomplishment or even ask them what they’re working on (if you’ve been building a relationship, this kind of call should be welcome).
Everyone on your team should truly get to know those contacts, instead of just throwing client-related information at them.
Then, when it comes time to pitch them on an article idea or actual news, your name stands out from everyone else and they will know and respect you and your team as peers.
Sometimes you have to dig a little bit to find your clients’ story within the main story. I’ll use an example from my own experience to illustrate.
The Super Bowl is a seemingly mainstream sporting event that doesn’t seem to hold many press opportunities for back-end communications companies, right?
But if you think about it, service providers are impacted by America’s biggest game, too.
More than 68,000 people attended the 2012 Super Bowl. Think about all of those people trying to upload pictures or videos to Facebook or Twitter or even sending texts all at once from the exact same spot.
It would be hard for providers—yes, even “the nation’s largest network”—to manage that kind of surge.
Of course, there are companies out there that help service providers do just that, and many reporters might be interested in hearing about this angle.
If you have a client that provides this service, like I do, you can capitalize on current events to make a great story that establishes your client’s value to a mainstream audience.
Companies that provide back-end solutions probably don’t have the opportunity to be featured in mainstream publications very often, so finding angles like this opens that door.
As I mentioned in my first point, editors are much more likely to read and respond to your emails if they know who you are.
Once you feel like you’ve established a relationship with an editor, try suggesting a topic that you think he or she would be interested in writing about.
Another tactic: Share some insight on an upcoming trend that they might not have spotted, and see if they would be interested in writing about it.
These topics shouldn’t focus on your client’s products, but instead be about something general within the industry. It can also help to provide an approved quote from your client that provides thoughtful commentary so that neither side has to spend time on a briefing.
ANALYZING THE ANALYSTS
Obviously, this is also somewhat dependent on having a good relationship with analysts since they charge for this information—they’re paid to know what the trends are.
But if you know an analyst well and feel that you can contribute to a discussion as well, feel free to ask if he is seeing a particular trend over others.
One of the best ways to promote thought leadership for your clients is through contributed (or bylined) articles.
Not only do these articles allow your clients to bring issues important to their business to the front of the discussion, they can help your client to control the message.
This is also a good option for clients that don’t have a lot of time to spare but want to be in the discussion. Briefings with media take time to schedule and conduct, and they don’t guarantee an article.
The bottom line is that your clients can’t provide solid news at all times—and they shouldn’t have to. Our job is to have a strategic approach that ensures they are always ahead of the curve and making an impact. PRN
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Lydia Howard is an account manager for Vantage Communications. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5 PR Tips for Keeping Your Client in the News
1. Create an outreach spreadsheet for your team: Make sure everyone is interacting (on Twitter, short emails or phone calls, etc.) with their contacts by having them mark it down in a shared spreadsheet. Then, when it comes time to pitch them on an article idea or actual news, your name stands out from everyone else and they should know and respect you and your team as peers.
2. Make current news relevant to your clients: Did your client help loved ones find each other during a major storm? Or do they help a mobile network handle the surge in phone calls around the Super Bowl?
3. Suggest topics or trends for editors to write about: These topics shouldn’t focus on your client’s products, but instead be about something general within the industry. But you could get your client quoted as an expert read by their target customers.
4. Ask analysts what trends they envision in the next six months: If you see that your client is playing into that trend well, offer to set up a meeting they just might include your client in their next report.
5. Garner contributed articles on current trends: These articles allow your client to raise issues important to their business, and your clients have control over what gets published. This is also a good option for clients that don’t have a lot of time to spare but want to be in the discussion.
This article appeared in the June 10 issue of PR News. Subscribe to PR News today to receive weekly comprehensive coverage of the most fundamental PR topics from visual storytelling to crisis management to media training.