Strategically Communicating with Your PR Specialist and Journalist
Key Players in Your Success
A strong Public Relations campaign is important to your company’s success. And two critical relationships for good PR are between you and (1) your PR specialist and (2) at least one strong and connected journalist in your market.
Here’s how to communicate effectively with each and help ensure a strong relationship that benefits all.
The PR Specialist
You have your PR Specialist on board. Whether you’re working with in-house professionals or an outside agency, the basic elements of strategic communication are essentially the same.
The following suggestions will provide guidelines for the clear, two-way communication that accomplishes your PR objectives.
- Have goals. Specific goals. Specific goals, in writing. It’s too vague to state “We want to start a blog.” Provide the detail: “We want to start a blog on our website. We’d like to focus on engineering innovations in the tool and die industry, particularly in automobile applications. We want it to be published three times each week.” That’s specific.
- Let your PR Specialist review your goals and comment from their perspective. Perhaps you’ve chosen too narrow a topic or maybe a different frequency would be best or perhaps the blog might work better on another platform. Let your Specialist provide input. You are the expert regarding your company; your PR representative knows best about how to get the word out.
- Once you and your Specialist have agreed on the final goal and how it will be accomplished, get it in writing.
- Establish benchmarks and check in frequently.
- Provide feedback as programs unfold. Early intervention makes desired changes easier to accomplish.
- Never fail to give kudos liberally when deserved, and be firm but fair in your criticisms. You are the customer, and a collegial relationship is best for all.
- “Lather, rinse, repeat.” That is, as new goals and ideas evolve, follow this process each and every time. Shooting from the hip can result in shooting yourself in the foot!
…on to the Journalist
If you don’t have a PR Specialist to foster a relationship with key journalists, that leaves it’s to you. Taking the basic example of a Press Release, here are some suggestions for fostering strategic and targeted communication that benefits you both.
- Know Press Release etiquette. Volumes have been written on this topic, so do a little research. Basically, follow the preferred format as defined by the publication. If you can’t find it in print, call. Each outlet has preferences. Ignore them at your peril.
- Don’t make a busy journalist read through paragraphs of dross to get to the meat of your story. (Not that they would. Snag them in the first paragraph or you’re done. Time is short!) Remember: who, what, when, where and why. And don’t forget how.
- If you’re promoting an event that is in the future emphasize “when” by putting the date in the very beginning of the release. That lets the journalist know where the item will fit into their world of deadlines, and having to wade through paragraphs for that information is frustrating.
- If you are quoting someone in your release or offering them as an expert, make sure that you have permission and provide appropriate contact information.
- Do not attach mega files to your email. While photos and clips are welcome, this is not the way to provide them. Check the guidelines or call the office. Links are sometimes preferred, but some publications are very specific in how they wish to access these files. Ask.
- Proofread! Do it again!
- Nothing cutesy in the subject line. Use titles: “Ms. Doe” or “Mr. Smith.” No first name basis until you’re invited.
- Feel free to follow up by phone to confirm that your communication was received. If you must leave a message, be brief and give the journalist the option of responding by phone or email.
It’s not terribly difficult, but in talking to journalists, it’s amazing how many submissions fail to follow these straightforward guidelines. Remember, journalists are paid to get the news out there. Make it easy for them, and reap the rewards.