How to Kickstart Your PR Strategy

Five steps to create visibility

Not only can a good PR strategy help you build brand awareness, it can also help you increase your sales and strengthen your brand position. Not sure where to begin? If you’re strapped on budget or just prefer to do it all, here’s how you can start planning your PR strategy from scratch.

Identify your target audience
Understanding who you’re speaking to is fundamental to any PR strategy. Ask yourself who is more likely to want your product or services. While you’ll want to reach as many people as you can, remember to target an audience that can and will buy your products or services. Your target audience can be individuals, groups who are key decision makers in their industry, or those with power to make an impact on your businesses.

Once you’ve defined your audience, do some groundwork by researching how they are consuming news and media, as well as identifying where they are most likely to be. Which blogs or publications are they likely to follow? Which social media platform do they use? Are they using each social media platform differently? An effective PR strategy calls for a tailored delivery of messages to your audience.

Develop key messages
How you develop your narrative does depend on what goals you are trying to accomplish, but at its heart, your key messages should convey how your brand or business is positioned in the market.
Regardless of whether you’re launching a new product or looking to create more buzz around your existing products, you need to consider how your brand can add value to people’s lives.

Think about these questions when you are brainstorming on how to write your key messages:
• Why does the market need your services or products?
• How is your company unique as compared to your competitors? What’s your market edge?
• How can your company impact the industry and change people’s lives?
• What are the human narratives of your brand? Why did you start your company and what problems did you try to solve?
• How are existing products (similar to yours) being presented in the media? Are there too many stories in the media similar to your pitch?

Keep your key messages short and sweet. The best key messages around are authentic, easy to understand, and succinct.

Put together your own press kit
Before you send your story, put together a press kit to go along with your pitch. You need to include a concise press release, a product fact sheet, the company profile, bios of key spokespeople, the product brochure, as well as relevant images of the new product and the spokespeople.

Be creative, but make sure your creativity highlights your brand attributes or your product’s unique selling proposition. One way to create a memorable press kit is to go away with predictable A4 folder and inserts; Dominique Low, Founder of Wanderlust Brand Communications, suggests, “how about a creative box or a multimedia press kit where you do away with a physical press kit altogether and send everyone a link to a multimedia version on a microsite?”

Create a target media list, including bloggers and influencers
Rack your brain and start building your own media database. Your database should track the different publications, blogs, and trade publications you hope to be featured in along with contact information (if any), social profile links, area of interest, and editorial calendar information. Knowing when best to pitch your story will help you go along way.

When working with influencers, Dominique cautions, “Influencers definitely enhance your brand image so work with those who reflect your brand values and have the right type of followers versus just the number of followers. It’s not always about the numbers; you want to ensure you’re reaching a captive audience who cares about your product. Also, influencers include industry experts and journalists––not just the typical social media ‘stars’.”
Tip: Don’t forget to coordinate your own social media network into your promotion network. Your employees and your own social circles have their own social networks too.

Evaluate your strategy
After each PR campaign, evaluate how well your campaign has done. Did it meet the objective you set out? If you find that your PR strategy is not as successful as you want it to be, try to identify and see what tactics work (or don’t). It takes time to refine your strategy, and what works now doesn’t necessarily mean it will work again in the future.

It sometimes helps to hire an agency or PR professionals as they have the experience to take your brand forward and can advise you on how to position your brand in the market. Better yet, they already have good relationships with media, bloggers, and influencers in the region so they know who best to pitch your story to. Before signing on with an agency, Dominique advises, “Always good to meet a few agencies or freelance professionals to gauge what’s out there, what’s best for your brand objectives, and if there’s chemistry. Even on a modest budget, there are many smaller agencies and experienced freelancers who can help you and would be able to give you more attention as well.”