Government contractors come in a tremendous variety of sizes of what PR can do for them. PR programs should too. Some companies use public relations extremely effectively, with favorable stories appearing in a variety of relevant sources. The most impressive are often small and mid sized firms with limited resources that are able to maximize the value of their PR. This kind of ongoing coverage gives the coveted impression that the company is much larger and has a greater market footprint than actually they do.
Regardless of the size of your company or your marketing department, we, at The Borenstein Group, have identified some ways to scale PR to your company and get the most of your media relations efforts.
Don’t Go for an All or Nothing Strategy
Sometimes PR folks attempt to boil the ocean and take on too much in an attempt to “get coverage.” By tracking all editorial calendars and reporters who so much as dance around the edges of the story you’re trying to pitch, you’re probably taking on too much and will get too little as a return.
Rather, an industry specific approach probably makes more sense. (This isn’t the solution for everyone, but it is often a way to better target your efforts.) By targeting the editors and reporters in you industry, through trade pubs and online sources, you’ll get more bang for your buck.
Big question: what sort of coverage will have the most significant impact on revenue growth for your company? Coverage for coverage’s sake isn’t the solution. Is the answer investment-driven business publications, local business sections, trade publications and online sources, features sections, or a mix?
Most of us who work in PR have heard it from a CEO or other key executive. “We need to be covered in ________.” Sometimes that becomes the central strategy, even if it’s untenable. Regardless, you need to work with the hand you are dealt to get the results leadership desires.
Identify the key outlets you want to be in, story by story. Determine what you have to offer each publication. If you’re going after trade magazines, determine what you have to offer that’s compelling to their readers and work your pitch from there. This may sound like old news to many PR pros, but success often lies in the basics—and strategy always does.
Tips for Identifying Media
Here’s another important question: What are your prospects and customers reading? Not sure? Have your sales reps who visit them ask them and/or take a look around their office to find out. Those publications should be on your short list. If you do customer surveys, ask the question.
Another good way to establish key media is to determine where your competitors are appearing. Their story is clearly of interest to the editors and readers of those outlets. Maybe yours is too.
Maximize PR’s Value—Article by Article
The value of coverage is by no means limited to the day or month in which it appears. Including favorable coverage on your web site is a no-brainer, but what else can you do? Reprints of significant articles can be valuable for sales kits. Direct mail campaigns can include, among other things, a case study that ran in one of your industry’s leading magazines.
You should link to coverage in your email newsletters or other electronic communications. When sales reps are working to move a lead through the pipeline, they can forward on coverage that highlights a problem that prospect is facing. Even if these articles aren’t read verbatim, they go a long way in establishing credibility for your organization. And of course, by hyper-linking to articles that appear online, you’ll be increasing your search engine visibility.
Don’t Forget Letters to the Editor
Many trade publications and other publications run letters to the editor. If your company is following a significant trend or you have feedback on coverage, craft a letter to the editor for your CEO, president, etc. Not only is this quick-hit coverage, it can pique the editor’s interest and lead opportunities for your organization.
To Byline or not to Byline?
Should we do by-lined articles? What value to they have? We get these questions a lot. The answer lies in two questions. First, do the publications you’re pitching run bylined articles? For some industries, such opportunities are limited. For others, such as healthcare, there are opportunities, but rarely for vendors.
If there are opportunities in your industry, and you have a story to tell, do you have the bandwidth to support bylines? Sometimes it’s easier to get the opportunity to submit the story than it is for the executive, developer, subject matter expert, etc. who will contribute to the story to provide information. It’s important that you know what you’re getting into, particularly if the article is to be technical and require much time from others in your organization.
Determine how you’ll measure.
How will you gauge PR’s impact on your overall marketing program? Frankly (and intangibly), CEOs love to see articles about themselves and the organization they’ve helped build. While not necessarily quantifiable, this is eminently important.
Measure spikes in web traffic when stories appear. Measure the referral sites that push readers to your site. These are good indicators of editorial impact.
The questions your inbound sales reps ask should include asking how the prospect heard about the product or service. Even if they report something vague like, “I saw it in a magazine,” try and have them push for where they saw it. Even if they don’t remember the publication, they may tell you it was a trade publication. This helps eliminate variables and determine if more calls are coming in around the time editorial hits.
To learn about how to scale your government contractor marketing and public relations program, contact Borenstein Group via the web or at 703-385-8178.