Coronavirus Impact on Social Media, PR, Brand Marketing & Advertising Agencies

The impact of coronavirus on social media marketing, public relations and brand marketing

coronavirus social media marketing

 

As publicists, brand marketers and agency owners, many of us are not prepared for coronavirus. Most of us have never lived during a pandemic, let alone personally experienced one. This is where crisis communications training will become invaluable. We are used to helping clients with short term PR fiascos or crisis communication issues. But make no mistake—we must prepare for an ongoing crisis. This will not be a crisis that will go away any time soon. As brand marketers, don’t keep marketing with your head in the sand.

As social media marketing and PR professionals, we often plan for the unexpected. But no one could have accurately predicted or planned for the massive disruption coronavirus could have on virtually every industry worldwide. Now is the time for brands and agencies to have the tough conversations.

Where do we go next?

How will our marketing change in lieu of coronavirus?

What should agency professionals do during this time? How do you market and publicize during a pandemic?

Coronavirus effects on the Marketing & PR industry 

This isn’t the time to run a scheduled social media marketing or PR campaign; strategies need to adjust.

covid19 coronavirus brand marketing quote

 

In the agency world, how marketers handle coronavirus will separate the pros from the amateurs. Remember when everyone thought they could buy social media services for a few hundred dollars because their kid in college could do it? Now this will reset the playing field.

This will be a time when it will suddenly be glaringly obvious why certain agencies charge a premium for marketing and PR services. The bottom of the barrel marketers will keep marketing through this as if nothing is going on. Their posts will be tone-deaf. They will not pause scheduled tweets or pre-written content for campaigns and will continue to market as if we were still living in a pre-Coronavirus digital environment.

The premium agency pros, however, will know now is the time to pause and reflect. Strategy means knowing when to stay silent just as much as it means knowing what to post and when. Clients may hem and haw and ask, “What am I paying you for if you aren’t going to post anything?”

They are paying you because you know the difference between when to shout from the rooftop and when to be quiet.

Do not use this as a cheap marketing ploy to get more customers for your brand. Unless you are a medical professional, tread lightly with the content you put out. This means doing a total 360 on your social media marketing strategy. Now is not the time to share the beautiful creative you had prepared 90 days out. Save it for another day or another quarter.

Coronavirus will impact every sector and industry including marketing, public relations and social media.

Here are ten things every PR agency professional should consider a COVID19 brand quarantine:

  1. Marketers need to prepare for this situation and have a contingency plan for their client’s campaigns as well as their media strategy. Have the tough conversations.
  2. Media buying budgets could be impacted if businesses lose the money they planned to spend to place ads. Discuss this with your clients before placing any other media buys. You can’t spend money they don’t have.
  3. Pause scheduled tweets or any content that has been written for the campaign.  It will look tone-deaf.
  4. Do not use this as a marketing ploy to try to get more customers. Unless you are a medical professional, tread lightly on the content you put out for consumers.
  5. Don’t try to newsjack as a PR hook to get increased brand mentions for coronavirus. 1 % of you will get it right, the other 99% will get it wrong and suffer irreparable brand damage. People will remember how you handle your marketing during this time. Take a strong leadership position instead of looking at this as an opportunity to get press. The risk of a negative brand association is far greater than the upside of a positive brand association. Think carefully about that before trying to newsjack.
  6. If you don’t have anything to contribute to the conversation, stay quiet. It is better to stay quiet than to contribute noise, misinformation or fake news. I realize clients won’t like hearing this one because they are still paying for services during this time. Strategy means knowing when to stay silent just as much as it means knowing when to post or what to post. That is part of what you are paying for. Listen to your agency.
  7. Focus on other services. Now is a great time to write fresh copy for a web site that has been put on the back burner. Think about other ways to add value outside of daily social media posting.
  8. As a brand, use your platform to share helpful information and use your thought leadership platform and authority for the greater good. Speak with conviction.
  9. Ramp up your customer service on social media platforms. If you are in the travel sector, now is the time people will be tweeting at your brand to get refunds for canceled travel. Make sure someone is answering these tweets and direct messages to avoid a potential firestorm.
  10. Do not run any paid social media ads or Google ads that run counter to the updated guidelines around coronavirus. “On Google, brands are now restricted from buying keywords sensitive events, including disease. So, for now, there are no promoted search results appearing atop vital news services reporting on coronavirus.”

Digital Marketing & PR During Coronavirus

How do we market and publicize in a post coronavirus digital media environment where every other story is about COVID19? What we can say that is helpful? Brands can’t stay silent forever, so when is a good time to inject your brand into the conversation?

We need to understand the changing needs of consumers and their emotional state of mind, and we must take that into consideration when marketing to them. If people are afraid, now is not the time to pretend they aren’t. Additionally, it is also not the time to market to a state of fear or panic. You must walk a fine line.

If you are in PR, don’t try to hijack the news as a public relations hook to get increased brand mentions. Only 1% of people will get it right while the other 99% will get it wrong and suffer irreparable brand damage. People will remember how you handle your marketing during this time. The risk of a negative brand association is far greater than the upside of a positive brand association. If you don’t have anything to contribute to the conversation, stay quiet. It is better to stay quiet than to contribute noise.

Pause your scheduled tweets. Ramp up your customer service on social media. If you are in the travel sector, people will be tweeting at your brand for refunds or cancellation policies at a higher volume. You must be prepared to service these requests with your social media team.

When will coronavirus end? Unfortunately, no one knows. Until we have an estimate, now is a great time to focus on marketing, branding or PR projects that have been put on the back burner and do not require the daily immediacy of social media posting. Here are five digital marketing and PR strategies and ideas to tackle:

SEO historical optimization: Rewrite old blog posts and update your content for answer engine optimization and updated keywords to try to appear in featured snippets.

PR materials: Is the executive bio up to date that you have been pitching to the media for the past two years? Could a fact sheet use a refresher?

Interviews: Invest in a good webcam, microphone, and lighting. Set up an in-studio environment and guide your clients through this process so they can be available to do Skype interviews from home if the media requests them. If you are asked to self-quarantine, you can still do interviews from the comfort of your own home.

Website: Everyone dreads redoing their website or thinking about their brand purpose. Now is a perfect time to think about this and take a stab at a refresh.

Organizing collateral: Have 1,000 photos from client events saved on your computer? Organize them.

MARKETING DURING CORONAVIRUS: HOW SHOULD YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY CHANGE DURING A PANDEMIC?

During a recent TV news interview, I was asked, “What is your advice to your clients – and to any of our viewers – who are using Social Media as part of their marketing strategy: business-as-usual?  Or does a story like Coronavirus that “blocks-out-the-sun” dictate changing tactics? How should brands handle their social media marketing strategy during a coronavirus outbreak?”

Here are 4 marketing tactics to consider today for a crisis communications plan:

1) Pause all scheduled tweets or social media posts on third-party apps.

2) Revise your marketing communications strategy to account for the impact of coronavirus COVID19.

3) Do not put any information out unless it is from knowledgeable, credible medical experts. Fact-check all social media posts about coronavirus COVID19 before clicking post.

4) Do not use coronavirus for cheap marketing ploy tactics. We saw a well-known PR firm do this recently with a poll around Americans buying corona beer. Don’t use coronavirus to newsjack and get your brand in the news. This is NOT the time to try to sell more products, price gouge or use PR to insert yourself into the story. If you are trying to use this as an excuse to get more exposure for your company, your brand will suffer irreparable damage as well as your online reputation.

Marketing & PR in the age of coronavirus – what brands need to know

Coronavirus is creating disruption across the world and throughout every industry. As marketers and publicists, this disruption will create grave uncertainty for our jobs and the digital marketing ecosystem we are accustomed to working in.

This is not business as usual. People are afraid. If you are running a major conference that requires business travel, think long and hard about canceling it, unless you want to suffer the negative Twitter spiral like we are seeing with Expo West or SXSW. It is better to cancel early so people have time to make alternative plans.

If you do want to give back as part of a corporal social responsibility initiative, consider creating branded hand sanitizers (if some promotional companies still have them available) and give them away for free. Yes, it will cost you a few thousand dollars, but it is a nice thing to do.

Also, consider creating a social media campaign that encourages people to stay home. Italy is leading the way with this initiative with the creation of the #IStayHome social media marketing campaign, and brands could do this on a hyper-local level.

The Bottom Line: Invest time and resources in high-level strategic public relations and marketing activities. As marketers and publicists, we often say that we wish we had extra hours and if only we had more time. Well, now we do.

Let’s spend this time as effectively as possible for clients to get the most value from our services. In a social media-driven world that is dictated by the endorphin rush of on-demand marketing, this is a wakeup call and a reminder to marketers that strategy still matters.

If your brand is quarantined, spend more time on strategy and less time on using this as a quick hit PR and marketing opportunity.

A national health crisis and pandemic is not a marketing opportunity.

*This article was written by Kris Ruby of Ruby Media Group and portions of this article originally appeared as an Op-Ed on Adweek 

ADWEEK: Coronavirus COVID19 Brand Marketing: How to Survive a Brand Quarantine During Coronavirus By Kris Ruby

brand quarantine coronavirus covid19 kris ruby

 

COVID-19 Update from Ruby Media Group

PUBLIC RELATIONS STRATEGIES: MEDIA INTERVIEWS DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

As an agency, we have made the decision to stop pitching doctors and medical experts for in-studio media, television or radio appearances during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many doctors have expressed hesitation about being in-studio with COVID-19 infection risks, and our agency does not want to put our medical clients or their patients at risk, so we are pitching clients for virtual interviews. We feel this is the safe and right response during a pandemic.

CREATE A STUDIO FOR INTERVIEWS AT HOME 

Many newsrooms around the country are increasingly practicing social distancing. What does this mean for the PR industry, clients, media commentators and newsmakers?

If you want to do media interviews, purchase LED lighting, a good microphone, and a webcam or DSLR camera for interviews. Set up a Skype or professional Zoom account, too. This will ensure you are happy with how the interview looks regarding the production quality of the interview from your laptop or mobile phone.

The media landscape will be chaotic right now.  Do not be surprised if a reporter cancels your pre-scheduled interview or is thirty minutes late for a call or misses it entirely. This will be the new norm over the next few months.

MEDIA REQUESTS DURING COVID-19

The media is in overdrive right now with an increasingly high volume of requests for doctors and medical professionals. Doctors are needed as sources/ experts now more than ever before. We will continue to send out these requests as we receive them from reporters to see if you are the right fit for what they are looking for. Do not feel obligated to respond- we don’t want the media’s timeline to add any stress to your already stressful environment right now. Respond to media requests you want to comment on and can genuinely add value to.

The majority of incoming media requests during the COVID-19 pandemic we have received are for infectious disease experts. If you are not an infectious disease expert, you may not be what the media is looking for. If you see other doctors consistently quoted in the news on coronavirus, it is most likely because they are infectious disease experts.

Ethically, we feel it is important that medical specialists in each vertical are commenting within their scope of practice.

Please understand that every week will seem like a big media week and big news week- but just because it is, doesn’t mean that you are the right person to be commenting on it.

If you are affiliated with a hospital, please check your contract with the hospital on what you are allowed to say to media outlets regarding your affiliation. For example, you cannot tell a media outlet what it is like at a hospital you are on staff at or rounding at if your hospital prohibits you from speaking with the media about your work at the hospital. Please make sure you read the contract terms carefully and update your PR firm on what the contract terms are with each hospital you are affiliated with.

While our primary goal is always to get clients’ media coverage, we take a strategic approach to media relations, which means knowing when not to talk, just as much as it means knowing when to push a message out.

Additionally, we will be encouraging reporters to call clients instead of submitting email responses for media requests. Speaking by phone with a reporter takes less time than drafting lengthy email responses. We are trying to be as mindful as possible of your busy schedule and don’t want to add anything to your plate, which is why we think asking reporters to speak with you by phone is ideal during this crisis. We don’t want to add to your stress level.  Our agency will connect you with the media directly for requests by phone at a time that works for you and your schedule.

HIGH-LEVEL PR STRATEGIC CONSULTING: COVID-19 PANDEMIC

This is a perfect time for us to focus on the high- level strategic public relations goals for your medical practice.  If you are finding yourself with a few extra hours because your practice has switched to telehealth services or you are working from home, please call me. This is a great time to do all of the things we have always wanted to do. Whether it is writing new copy for your web site or transcribing long-form content, this is a perfect time to do it. I am here and willing to serve you!

Patients are looking to their doctors during this time more than ever – they need help from you to navigate this crisis. If they have an emergency, they want to know you are available. They want to see some level of communication from your practice.  You can continue to keep people updated with tips and content that will help them during this time even if your office is not open. This is also a great time to optimize old blog content, update keywords, and create new long-form content and blogs.

SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY DURING COVID-19

Content strategies will change to account for coronavirus. Content should be focused around helping people (and patients) navigate this crisis and pandemic. Please work with us so we know what your office is doing differently during this time. If your office has closed and wants to put out an email or social media post on your COVID-19 response, please send it to us so we can edit it. If you are offering telemedicine or new telehealth services, let’s work together to push that information out so you can keep seeing patients.

Coronavirus Misinformation Epidemic: What advice do you have for people who are watching and listening regarding consuming information they see and hear about COVID19 on social media platforms? 

The media is not sensationalizing coronavirus. Reporters are putting their lives at risk by even reporting on this like I am today by being here for this segment and taking a car to do this which could have had a contaminated passenger in it. It’s easy to sit on Twitter and spout off about the media. When you are actually on the front line doing the work yourself, its a different story. We need journalists to keep reporting and showing up to work to report on coronavirus, and that will only get harder as more people stop showing up to work and start reporting only from Skype. Doctors and reporters are reporting from locations where coronavirus has been confirmed. Think about that before saying how terrible the media is.

Amazon has taken down listings for third-party products claiming to help users avoid Coronavirus.  One surgical face mask manufacturer was de-listed for making what Amazon called “unapproved medical marketing claims.” Who should you believe?  Is the Coronavirus pandemic a symptom of our reliance on information gathered from social media?

As you have followed the Coronavirus story, how well or misinformed do you reckon someone for-whom Social Media equals “the news” would be as this vital story unfolds?

Social media companies are racing to combat the spread of misinformation on coronavirus COVID-19 and many have partnered with health authorities to crackdown on the misinformed epidemic.

Americans are so desensitized to a sensationalized media environment that they think this is just another bad snowstorm or something that the media has hyped up, therefore, they aren’t listening or paying attention. People will not be prepared for this. People are still flying when they shouldn’t be. People need to be way more afraid than they actually are.

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CORONAVIRUS COVID19 SOCIAL MEDIA MISINFORMATION: PODCAST EPISODE 

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Thought Leadership Marketing: How to Raise Your Media Profile as a CEO

CEO Branding thought leadership marketing kris ruby

 

Why is your personal brand important and how can a thought leadership marketing strategy help you create new business development opportunities? Every CEO must create a personal brand strategy today. I was recently a guest on Power Lunch Live Show with Rhett Powers. During this hour-long discussion with Forbes writer Rhett Powers, we cover a CEO’s PR digital transformation and share branding secrets of how to build your personal brand on social media marketing platforms. Listen to this episode to learn what every CEO needs to know about branding.  What is personal branding in business and why do you need to learn how to master it?

During the podcast, we discussed:

  • Business press releases: Still necessary? Or a waste of time?
  • How to develop an executive visibility plan
  • CEO thought leadership marketing 101
  • How to increase thought leadership marketing as a CEO
  • How to build your brand through digital PR
  • How to create a thought leadership program
  • Social media thought leadership best practices

Listen to the full C-Suite Thought Leadership episode here:

What is Thought Leadership Marketing?

Thought leadership marketing is a way to build subject matter expertise as a leading expert and authority in your industry through content marketing, public relations and social media marketing tactics.

Business thought leaders:

  • Frequently display industry advice or strong opinions
  • Post the latest thinking on emerging trends within their industry
  • Are known as trusted advisors
  • Have a strong online presence

Why are founders and executives investing in thought leadership marketing services?

Why is thought leadership important? For starters, if you want to be positioned as a subject matter expert as a business leader, you need to develop your brand story and key messaging points. Developing your online presence and personal brand as an entrepreneur will pay dividends in the long run, from helping you close more deals to securing new business opportunities and even increasing inbound requests for public speaking. Thought leadership content marketing impacts buying decisions. It isn’t a fluff line item on your marketing budget: it is a requirement.

How do some companies establish themselves at a dominant position in their industry? 

Some brands establish themselves as a dominant player in their industry in the media, on search engine results, and at offline conferences, while others don’t. So, what is the difference? Is it strategic marketing?

The difference between a household brand and a brand that gets little to no visibility is that the content is coming directly from the leader. Brands that try to outsource their thought leadership content marketing strategies ultimately fail. There is a difference between writing your own content and having someone else edit it versus asking someone else to come up with those ideas for you.

After working with hundreds of brands for thirteen years, the key difference between brands with dominant search engine result placement is: are they writing their own thought leadership content or are they trying to outsource it to someone else?

If you try to outsource thought leadership content marketing, you are not a true thought leader. You can outsource editing, PR, SEO or anything around the content that you are writing, but subject matter expertise cannot be outsourced.

That is the difference between a winning brand and a losing one.

Results-Driven Thought Leadership Marketing

The truth is, while some components of a thought leadership marketing strategy are tangible, other parts are intangible. Thought leadership content marketing builds trust. As a business leader or consultant, you want to be positioned as a leading expert. Customers, patients or prospects need to trust you in order to buy from you or choose you as a provider.

If you ask someone why they chose you, they may not say:

  • Because I have followed all of your posts on LinkedIn for the past year and it built trust
  • Because I read that article you were quoted in
  • Because I saw your TV segment

But intuitively and instinctively, they chose you because you became a trusted advisor through your content marketing, PR and social media.

Have you ever asked your partner, why did you choose me over the other people you could have been with? And they said because I trusted you.

Trust is built. It is not one action. It is not a single blog post. A Facebook post. Or a podcast episode. It is not a singular KPI or metric that can be quantified in that way. And yet, it is the most important metric of all, because all of those actions together build trust in the most important decision: choosing you over every other option.

Is self-promotion a necessity to rank on search engines in today’s digital economy? Keep reading to find out.

Corporate Brand Building In The Digital Era 

Transcript of Power Lunch Live Show: Podcast Interview with Kris Ruby and Rhett Power

Rhett Power: Welcome to the Power Lunch Live show on LinkedIn. I’m Rhett Power your host. We do this program every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 12 noon, Eastern Standard Time.  The point of the program is to talk to today’s thought leaders, best-selling authors, CEOs, people who are doing amazing work in the world that we can learn from. Today, I have Kristen Ruby on the show. She’s the CEO of the Ruby Media Group. She runs a full-service PR and social media agency based in New York City. Now, I consider Kris a social media guru, someone we should all listen to and watch out for. She’s on Fox, CNBC. She’s been on Good Morning America, The Today Show, she is actually everywhere these days.  Kristen Ruby, welcome to the show.

Kris Ruby: Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Rhett Power: You’re welcome. You’ve been someone I wanted to talk to for a while.  I want to talk about the importance of CEOs and founders having a PR strategy to promote themselves.  I know some people consider that sort of a dirty word: self-promotion. But I think it’s essential today to do it right. You have to have a public relations and personal branding strategy. Can you talk about that?

Personal Branding Vs. Company Branding 

Kris Ruby: People want to know who they’re doing business with today. The old days are behind us of a stodgy corporate branding strategy where you have a bunch of marketers and publicists in a room who are creating a strategy for an executive.   Because of the rise of social media marketing platforms, the CEO now has a microphone to be able to put out messages directly to the media. That’s a blessing and also a curse because if you don’t have a PR strategy, you can shoot yourself in the foot with the content you put out.

People want to hear from people instead of brands. They want to know, who is the person behind the brand?

Why Your CEO Is Critical For Your Thought Leadership Public Relations Strategy

We develop brand positioning strategies around leveraging the CEO’s thought leadership to secure press coverage as opposed to making the story about the company. I think that shift of corporate branding to thought leadership marketing has fundamentally changed a lot and so to your point, I agree that you need a CEO who is going to be the face of the brand and that will, in turn, help the CEO to generate more press coverage for their company.

For example, “said so and so of x company,” and in a nutshell, that’s what we specialize in doing as a NY PR firm. Plugging in experts and corporate executives to be that spokesperson for their business and offering those experts as sources to the media.

Rhett Power: To me, it seems like if I’m the CEO or the co-founder or one of the leaders, building my personal brand can actually help the company too.

personal branding quotes kris ruby

 

How to Develop Your Thought Leadership Marketing Strategy

Kris Ruby: I work with a lot of experts and entrepreneurs.  There’s an old way of doing PR where a company would say, “We want PR for our business,” and then you would build a traditional PR strategy around their business.

Today, if someone comes to my PR firm and says, “We want PR for our company,” I ask:

  • Who is the CEO and how available are they for media opportunities?
  • Are they media trained?
  • Who is going to be the face of the brand?

Give me a senior executive to work with that I can put out on behalf of the company to get quoted in different media outlets.

Mistakes CEOs Make with Personal Branding

Are you self-promoting or aggressively posting ten times a day?  That can hurt you in the long run if there is no thought-leadership marketing strategy behind the content you put out. I’d rather see a CEO put out three great pieces of content per month as opposed to something every single day and kill their engagement with low-quality content. You need to create a social media marketing strategy that ties into a holistic inbound content marketing strategy.

Before you click post, you must be able to answer:

  • Why are you putting this message out?

You also need to understand who you’re talking to when you’re posting on social media.

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP MARKETING: HOW TO BUILD A PERSONAL BRAND AS A CEO

Rhett Power: You talked about how you’d rather see somebody put out really good content two times a month as opposed to every day.  What does that mean? And if I’m the CEO or the person that hired you to come in and help me build my brand and my thought leadership marketing strategy, what does that look like? Is it video?

Kris Ruby: It depends on how that CEO shines.  If they are great on video, then they should be doing video marketing as part of their thought leadership public relations strategy. But if they are not good on camera in live media interviews, then long-form content makes more sense as part of a B2B content marketing strategy. So, you should do whatever medium is best for you and what you’re most comfortable with.

My PR secret is that it’s not just about checking off a box every day and saying, “I clicked post today and did social media for the day,” because some social media expert told me I have to do this every day. That doesn’t achieve your high-level strategic marketing and PR goals as a business thought leader.

Checking off a box is not the same as doing something with strategic intent.

What I want senior executives to think about before they post on social media is:

If I could write a message right now to the five prospects I’m going after, what would that message say? What do I want them to know? If prospects are ignoring my emails, what do I want them to see?

And that’s the part that I think 90% of people just skip out on; they skip past it completely.

If executives just spent a few more minutes thinking about that, they could be writing content that is actually helpful and educates their end-user and reaches the people they are trying to reach.  I think that is a critical part of figuring out your personal branding and digital PR strategy is. It’s not just saying I did social media to do it.

HOW DO YOU RAISE YOUR MEDIA PROFILE AS A CEO?

Take the time to figure out:

  • Who am I trying to talk to?
  • What am I trying to say?
  • Where can I find those people in digital platforms?

LINKEDIN THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

Rhett Power: You hear a lot about authenticity or being authentic. What does that mean? I mean, because I see a lot of people who talk about being authentic, but it always seemed very contrived to me.

Kris Ruby: There is a funny Twitter account that is a spoof on LinkedIn authenticity called “The State of LinkedIn.” They take these long drawn out narratives and monologues that people write on LinkedIn where they’re supposedly being authentic and call them out because it’s literally saying this is not authentic.  So, what happens is, it’s the opposite of authenticity, and people can tell, and then they call them out on Twitter.

If you’re trying really hard to be authentic, you’re not being authentic.

PERSONAL BRANDING AND CONTRIVED THOUGHT LEADERSHIP: FAKE AUTHENTICITY

The real sign of vulnerability or authenticity is when you write something and you think, oh, maybe I should delete that because I feel raw and maybe that was too personal.

That’s when you know you are truly being authentic and people can tell the difference.

Rhett Power: I was thinking about this the other day and I was trying to write an article about it and I got kind of stuck on it. But to me, it seems like if you’re genuinely trying to help solve a problem, then that, to me, is authentic. I don’t think it has to be that you have to tell your life story and all your trials and troubles to be authentic. I think it’s when you’re trying to use your experience and your knowledge to help someone.  When you talked about writing your content to those five customers, or their six customers or ten customers that you really want to reach? That to me is the answer.

WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

CREATING A THOUGHT LEADERSHIP MARKETING STRATEGY

Kris Ruby: Most people forget the problem they’re trying to solve when they hire a public relations agency. When you’ve been doing something for it a long time and you ask someone, what problem are you trying to solve? They just give you a blank stare, because they actually may not know anymore because when they started their company, the business problem they tried to solve then may not be the problem they’re trying to solve now.  You need to take a step back and look at core business challenges before starting a PR engagement or creating a thought leadership marketing strategy.

When a prospect says, “I’m interested in PR services,” and I go, what problem are you trying to solve? A lot of times, they don’t have an answer.  I say, well, you called me, you must have an underlying business problem to solve using PR as a tactic.

If there’s not a specific problem, no one from the client-side is going to be motivated to follow through on any of the work they are hiring you to do as a PR firm.

PR takes a lot of work. It is not just an investment of resources: it is also an investment of your time.

There must be buy-in from both the client and agency to make it work.

That means: collaboration, co-motivation and shared responsibilities on writing content that is being pitched to the media. If the client doesn’t have a real business problem when they hire you, the excitement will quickly fizzle and they will not be motivated to contribute the required time that is necessary to generate organic media exposure.

This is the problem when business owners view PR as a luxury instead of a necessity.

To compete in a Google-driven digital economy, PR is a necessity for building E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

Rhett Power: You can’t do anything if there’s not a problem, right? You can’t.  You don’t have a job if there’s not a problem.

Kris Ruby: Correct. I always say ego-driven PR is not a sustainable thought leadership PR strategy. Because sometimes people say, I saw so and so on TV. So, I want to be on TV, or this other person or my competitor is doing this. So, therefore, I want to do it too. But what is the problem? I mean, let’s dissect the problem there. I’m not sure that there is a problem.

Rhett Power: But they’re not on TV. That’s the problem.

Kris Ruby: Yeah, but it’s not a real problem with a deep enough business challenge that can be solved through PR. Let’s turn it around from your perspective here which I find fascinating. So, let’s talk about good PR pitches versus bad PR pitches and tell me what you think.  You deal with a lot of PR companies all the time and you’re always getting pitched by PR consultants.

PITCHING MISTAKES PR FIRMS MAKE

What do writers really want from PR pitches?

Rhett Power: I’ll say this, I think I probably get ten PR pitches a day and I get them in two different ways. I get them for the show or I get them for Forbes or INC or one of the other publications I write for. Or I get pitches because I have influence, “Will you buy this or will you test this or will you write about that?” I get a lot of people that want to be on those platforms and they want me to write about them on those platforms. And it’s often a cold outreach.  There’s been no effort to build a relationship with me.  And often I can tell it’s an email they sent to fifty other people probably. And so, with no idea- is this content that I write about? So, 90% of them go out the window, because it’s not something I write about.  I don’t write about cars. I don’t write about food products. There are a lot of things that don’t interest me, so I don’t write about them.

Kris Ruby: And these are emails from PR firms?

Rhett Power: From PR firms or from individuals.

Kris Ruby: That’s cringe-worthy by the way that a PR firm would be sending you that because it’s their job to research what you write about.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOD AND BAD MEDIA PITCHES

Rhett Power: Yeah.  But you know, somebody said to some junior associate, get the client placed in Forbes, right? Yeah. And so, they’re going to every Forbes contributor and sending an email because they have to do it yesterday hoping somebody is going to bite on this pitch.

So that’s that but then the other thing is then you’ll get somebody who might catch my attention and the story is interesting, but again, why would I do somebody a favor?

Why would I work with somebody when even if their story is compelling, they haven’t done anything to help facilitate a relationship?

That’s the other thing. You and I have been working together on some other clients for a while. And you clearly knew who I was targeting and who my audience was and so your pitches were compelling and interesting and your guests were good. So, anytime I got a pitch from you now, I would certainly look at it because you’ve done it. You did your homework and you did really well putting guests in front of me that were appropriate for the audience.

And so, to me, I’d rather work with somebody that’s focused on the relationship and build a relationship.

I had somebody that was a really good pitch that reached out in December. I finally talked to her yesterday because of the holidays, I was gone. And we talked and just like you, they provided a couple of guests that were spot on. So, I am happy to listen to those kinds of PR pitches. The other thing I think is important is understanding, Rhett does a show, he also writes for these publications, maybe if, because we know that those shows need guests. Maybe if I ask if you’ll take this person on as a guest, then maybe he’ll write an article about them if that’s our angle, right? We want an INC. placement or we want a Forbes placement. But let me get him on the show because that’s probably an easier pitch to Rhett because he needs guests on that daily show.

So just kind of understanding how all this works is really key to at least getting through to me and I know other contributors I talked to say the same thing.

Very, very few people get it right.

Kris Ruby: Really. That’s a powerful statement.

Rhett Power: Yeah, I think very few people pitch me the right way that have ever gotten through.

Kris Ruby: What does that say about the PR industry?

Rhett Power: Well, I’ll tell you what it says from my experience on the other side of it, which is hiring someone to do it. When I was running my toy company and the gift company we paid for a lot of PR that if I had known what I know now, I wouldn’t have bothered because I could have hired somebody, taught them how to do this and gotten the same story placements in the same ad placements and the same stuff that I got by hiring an expensive PR firm. I know that now, but we wasted a lot of money on stuff that I think we shouldn’t have wasted money on.

Kris Ruby: So, then what’s the difference of what is good when you are spending money on PR.  What would you say is a good use of resources versus a waste?

Rhett Power: I’m all for it because I think that there is a lot of value in having somebody like yourself or an industry-specific PR firm help you and guide you and help you create the strategy and understand the market and get better placement. There is a value in that.

But if you don’t know that and if you don’t understand what you need, and I think a lot of times entrepreneurs, at least the ones I work with and coach are like what you said, they don’t understand the problem. They don’t understand what they need. And they’re relying on a firm that maybe they didn’t ask all the right questions.  I think that happens a lot.

“You hire somebody and you just sort of check out, right? Oh, they’re going to handle the PR, they’re going to handle the strategy. And I think that’s what happens, right? Or they’re in charge of the PR. Yeah, they’re going to get any social media, they’re going to help me become an influencer. And that’s just not how it happens.” -Rhett Powers 

Kris Ruby: I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes I see people make.  They say, “I didn’t know how much time this is going to be. This is so time-intensive. You didn’t tell me.” There are many misconceptions about public relations.  Who did you think was going to write the content? You’re the expert. That expertise is not transferable.  A lot of people say, what obligations are going to be placed on me and how much time is required?

To get the most out of your public relations campaign, at least an hour of your time a day is required. I always say we can’t make you famous either.  You have that subject matter expertise. As public relations practitioners, it is our job to help shine a light on you and put that expertise in the right places online. But we can’t create that for you, you have to have already have created that on your own. I think that’s an essential piece of this for entrepreneurs to understand.

PR GENERALISTS VS. INDUSTRY SPECIALISTS

What is a PR specialist?

Having expertise within a niche in PR is very important.  And yes, there’s a difference between a PR consultant who is a generalist versus a specialist. And if you’re in the tech space, you probably want someone who specializes in tech PR and the same thing with entrepreneurship.

Is it better to be a PR specialist or a PR generalist?

I specialize in PR for entrepreneurs and PR for doctors. I have 12 plus years’ experience in each of those areas. So, if someone comes to me and says, I want you to do PR for my insurance company, I am not an expert in that area and I may not be the best fit because I don’t have those trade publication media relationships. And I think the onus is on public relations professionals to say that and not just take on any new business opportunity because someone approaches them, but instead to take on the things that they know they can do well and get great media results in.

As far as the story of our pitches or working with you, it’s funny because it’s really just organic. I didn’t set out to do anything. I like to connect the experts I have with reporters or producers who are working on a story and have a current need with a story or segment they are already doing.  It’s the difference between proactive versus reactive PR.  At the time, you were working on something, and I thought, I have an expert that I can plug into this where they would be a good person for that story. And then after I said that, I thought, wait a second, this is an interesting angle and he could make for a good guest on his show. Literally that’s how that happened. It wasn’t that I set out to write a pitch and figure out how I could maneuver my way in to get someone on your show or in your story. There is a difference. One is a contrived PR strategy to meet a quota every month, the other is adding value to a reporter’s story.

When you’re focused on how can I help this person that is critical for PR success. Give the media the expert they need or the source they need or the quote that they want versus thinking about: how can I achieve my client’s agenda, regardless of the agenda of that reporter? And I think people can tell the difference.

Rhett Power: Absolutely. You nailed it. Because yours was a totally different approach. Instead of, “Hey, I want,” I mean, it drives me crazy. The opening line is, “Hey, we want our guy in Forbes. Will you do it?”

Kris Ruby: I mean, why would you do it? Why would you care what they want, right? It doesn’t make any sense.  I was a columnist for a digital publication for almost two years. I’ve been on both sides of this and I received so many bad PR pitches. I would think to myself, these people are paying PR companies and this is the quality of what they’re sending me? I was mortified. As a PR consultant on the other side, I couldn’t believe it and I’d respond, and then they would ghost me. And I would think, I’m actually going to include you in the story. Have you ever had that happen when you actually get back to a source and you’re going to include them? And then they’re gone.  Has that ever happened to you?

Rhett Power: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Kris Ruby: And you’re like, what? You don’t know if it’s the PR firms’ fault or if it’s their client’s fault, but then you’re like, what?

PROFESSIONAL AND CORPORATE PR GHOSTING

Rhett Power: I had a guest booked last week. We booked it two months ago, a month a half ago. I reached out a week before nothing. A couple of days before nothing. It’s like you spent all that time getting me to book your guy. And… nothing.

Kris Ruby: Wait, they ghosted you?

Rhett Power: They ghosted me.

Kris Ruby: The PR firm ghosted you?

Rhett Power: Oh, yeah.

Kris Ruby: And then nothing and you just never heard from them again? But you booked the person and they were just gone?

Rhett Power: Yeah. Gone.

Kris Ruby: I think you’re going to hear from them six months from now when they have another client and they will have a burning desire to get that story placed. And this is why PR gets a bad reputation because of things like this.

Rhett Power: I want to go back to something you said; I did appreciate it. I had a great experience after the first couple of people that we hired, we did finally figure out our thick heads that going with somebody industry-specific was the best way. And that did change and the results out of that were just spectacular and gave us a much better understanding of where we needed to advertise and where we need to place our money. And I mean, it was before social media blew up like it is now and I think that would have complicated it a little bit more. But you know, I think industry-specific is smart.

Kris Ruby: I want to talk about your audience and PR strategies. We had a guest and there was a topic and so one of the things I did was a lot of background research on that topic and shared with you what I found.  Did you find that helpful? Is that something that you would want other PR consultants to do? Do you like that approach?

Rhett Power: Those were useful.  I tend to on this program, because we end up having 45-minute conversations and it’s not a one or two question and be done. And we have a chance to go really pretty deep into things. I tend to do a fairly deep dive into that person and I always discover something else I want to ask.  There are always some surprises that come out of that research, but I think it’s a starting point and particularly if they have a book or they have something going on that’s new and has to be talked about that’s very helpful. I’ve had some guests that even had questions that they wanted to send me and that’s fine. But any of that kind of stuff is helpful, particularly if there’s something that they want to say if they have a really specific message. That’s always a good guide.

HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR CEO ON SOCIAL MEDIA 

Rhett Power: What platforms do you think are working today social media-wise?

Kris Ruby: You mean for public relations?

Rhett Power: Yeah, for professionals like a corporate leader or co-founder.

Kris Ruby: I think all CEOs need to be on Twitter if you’re doing a public relations campaign. And that’s the number one social media platform that no one ever thinks about 100%. Because, for example, if a CEO is doing a media interview, I need to make sure that they’re sharing that interview on all of the other major social media platforms. And most journalists are active on Twitter, first and foremost, and so I want to make sure that the journalist is getting visibility for their writing if they are interviewing my client. It’s important that clients create a presence on each of the main social media channels so they can leverage them if they hire a public relations firm as part of a larger thought leadership marketing strategy.

SOCAL MEDIA THOUGHT LEADERSHIP: HOW TO BUILD YOUR CEO BRAND ON FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN AND TWITTER 

Having a presence on LinkedIn, Twitter and a Facebook fan page for your executive brand is critical for branding. Long-form content on your personal branding website under the “owned” media umbrella is important for you to have from an SEO perspective and also from a thought leadership perspective.

If you work with a PR firm and as you just look at it sort of like going up like that of all the press coverage you get, but the content that you’re putting out doesn’t match the amount of press that you’re getting. That’s a storm ready to brew and a major problem. Because what that looks like is that you’re just getting a lot of press, but you don’t actually have the expertise and the thought leadership behind that press coverage to sustain it.

Earned media must be in direct correlation with owned media.

What I want people to understand is press coverage is great, but you need to be doing your part to put out thought leadership content that supports the amount of press coverage that you’re getting, or else it just looks like you have a PR firm that did a great job of getting you press mentions. But are you an actual thought leader in this space? You want to see both things going up together, rather than just a lot of press but your thought leadership is nowhere.

The best way you can do that is through podcasting or putting out your own long-form content through.  I think most people don’t do that and it’s this area they skip. And it’s very obvious because if you look at their web site, you’ll see that they do media interviews, but they’re not putting as much time into their own thought leadership content in the owned media bucket. Reporters or journalists or producers want to see that versus looking at other interviews that they’ve done. Ideally, they want to see a mixture of both.  This helps confirm your credibility as an expert source. Other media doesn’t back that up; thought leadership content that you are the author of does.

People forget that thought leadership starts with actual leadership in a field before the media is involved. It doesn’t work the other way. Thought leadership and industry expertise first. Media coverage second.

Rhett Power: Really, because I am looking at my own stuff and that makes me think, okay, I’ve been writing for INC and Forbes for five or six, seven years, I’ve probably got 600 or 700 articles on INC alone.  That doesn’t translate though into bookings for TV.  Why is that?

Kris Ruby: So you’re asking how come your content isn’t translating to bookings for TV? Well, probably because no one’s pitching you for TV.  In order for your writing to translate to bookings for TV, you need a publicist who is pitching you all the time to producers. And you have to be writing about things are topical news stories like Iran. Are you writing about Trump? I don’t think you are. Are you writing about Meghan Markel?

Rhett Power: No, but I write about leadership and I write about all those things.  I’m not writing about pop news or news like that I write about leadership and yesterday, for example, I wrote a story on Patagonia and Coca Cola and a couple of other companies that are doing really well.  You know, they just opened that new store in Denver for all of their second-hand clothes.  People turn in their old Patagonia pullover and they get credit for a new one.  Business is what I write about.

Kris Ruby: If you were looking to get on TV, we’d take that and translate it to what’s happening in the news right now and position you as an expert who’s available for commentary and then I’d include relevant links, but we’d have to tweak some of what you’ve written to work with the angles or the narrative that is in the news.

Rhett Power: Because I do tweet when I post something on LinkedIn or INC or Forbes, that all gets tweeted. But I get more play out of that on LinkedIn when I retweet or when I post those on LinkedIn versus any mileage I get out of it on Twitter. You know, when INC retweets it or Forbes tweets it, then they get, you know, they’ve got a million followers or so, so they get some mileage. I haven’t seen as much benefit out of Twitter for me but I understand what you’re saying. You’re saying it’s a different audience, right? I should be focusing on LinkedIn with the business audience, Twitter go after the media with that content.

Kris Ruby: If you are writing about Prince Harry’s leadership right now or something like that, and I was doing PR, I would say, okay, give me this link. And then not only would you tweet it, but I’d also be sending that link to producers.  I wouldn’t just rely on Twitter. That’s just one portal, but I’d also make sure producers are getting it directly. So, I would do both. You know, it’s all of these things working together holistically. That’s where the PR strategy component comes in.

Rhett Power: One of the things I think in working with my clients in coaching and consulting is to make people understand that this is sort of a long game too, isn’t it? You’re not going to build thought leadership. You’re not going to build that kind of credibility. You know, you’re not going to just go on Fox and Friends or Fox Business or CNN.

“You’re not going to go on one time, and all of a sudden, you know, life’s gonna change.”- Rhett Powers

Kris Ruby: Exactly. I’ve been on national news shows over 100 times and I keep showing up. If they ask me to come on, I always say yes. I love it. That’s what I try and explain to people you have to say yes and be willing to make yourself available. I started out doing local TV on Sunday mornings upstate I’d wake up at 3 am and do that for five years before I ever appeared on a national show. I think people need to understand that.

You don’t just show up to a national TV station and say, I’ve arrived, book me. It doesn’t work that way.

Unless you have the most amazing publicist, but even then, I just think that’s not the world that we’re in.  You have to cut your teeth in these local markets and/or produce your own content online. And I think the world has really changed even from when I started 10 or 12 years ago. There’s a lot of opportunities right now with podcasts and digital streaming channels.  So, for example, let’s say you could do a TV segment or you could do a radio segment, you may not get links from either that so you’re going to have to hire a company to get you copies of what you’re doing versus something like this what you and I are doing right now which will live forever online. So, if that’s what you’re looking for, podcasting is a great portal to do that.

That’s where I think new media has a real advantage today over traditional forms of media.

Rhett Power: Well, I think it also gives people practice, right? It gives you practice for the big stage. As you said, you did local, local, local.  I don’t know how many podcasts I’ve done. I don’t know how many radio shows I’ve done, gazillions. It gets you comfortable doing it.

Kris Ruby: It does. I would also say it’s very different. There are some people that love doing TV interviews because they are two to three minutes. But doing a podcast is not like that when you are speaking for an hour. You have to really stay focused. It’s a very different type of interview, and some people love podcasts but wouldn’t want to do TV and vice versa.

Rhett Power: Fair enough. I think both are helpful. Is TV the way to really catapult your brand still? Or is it new media or is TV really still really where you can catapult your visibility?

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP MARKETING TIPS & TACTICS

Kris Ruby: TV is a great way to catapult your visibility.  I write about this as well about this notion of CEO activism. And should CEOs get involved in politics right now is that the right move for their company and if you want to be on TV, politics is going to be a part of that conversation. Nine out of 10 times, so you need to make that corporate PR strategy internally before you decide if you want to do TV.  Ten years ago, I was on the couch of a national TV show talking about optical illusions on a Saturday morning on national TV and that’s not going to happen now. It’s just not the world that we live in anymore. Everything is hard news and it’s politically driven all the time. So, if you’re okay with politics as part of your thought leadership marketing strategy, then sure, do it and it will catapult your brand if you’re open to it.

Rhett Powers: Is it smart to take a political bet on a business today?

Kris Ruby: Is it smart? It really depends. CEO Activism is a very hot topic today and it is one that is widely debated between PR pros, brand marketers and CMO’s. If you run a company where everyone is behind you in that political point of view, and when you say that you are speaking on behalf of your employees it’s a unified point of view, then sure, that’s an accurate statement. But if you are saying we all are in alignment when you’re employees are not in alignment with your corporate social responsibility stance, and then your employees feel uncomfortable working for you because you’ve just said something they don’t agree with, then no, that’s not smart. I think it’s a divided world out there.

Rhett Power: Well, I just wonder if the reason I asked you that is I wonder if the politics of today.  When I first started a company, my mother in law, a long-time small business person said never, in a small town, I will never ever put a political yard sign in my yard.  I’ll never ever put a sign in my shop window one way or the other.  I think everybody in town knew where she stood. But she never broadcast it for her business. And I wonder if today the political climate hasn’t shifted in such a way that it almost forces people to take a side. What do you think?

Kris Ruby: It does force people to take a side and I think the other thing that’s problematic when we’re working with a CEO or trying to build their personal brand is that a lot of times they think, I’m putting this content on a private Facebook or personal Facebook, and no one can see it. Well, that’s just simply not true.  There’s ways to see it. Because if you have 800 friends,  one friend could always screenshot it or share it. So, nothing is truly private anymore. But I also think that whether you agree with this or not, unfortunately, we live in a world where journalists or reporters have their own political preferences and a political bias. So, if I’m pitching a reporter, or if I’m working on trying to pitch an expert, and then a reporter looks at that person’s Twitter and sees that maybe they have political beliefs that are the opposite of what theirs are, that’s going to impact their opinion on if they want to write back to me.

Rhett Power: Sure.

Kris Ruby: And I don’t think people really think about that. If you hire a PR firm, and you’re working hard and spending money to try and get out there, and then you’re also putting out these strongly worded political statements. I think it can hurt what you’re trying to do unless you just want to be super polarizing, one way or the other. And if you are okay with that and that is the type of media coverage you want, then that makes sense.

HIRING A PR FIRM: THE PROCESS

Rhett Power: Fair enough. I don’t disagree. What is the process you would go through to hire a publicist?  What questions would you ask? What would be looking for? I mean, is it connection? Is it somebody that gets what you’re trying to do?  What do you think your clients, why did they hire you?

Kris Ruby: I think the old way is about connections. Today, it is about: do you have the ability to make new connections that makes sense in that client’s vertical. The old way is a publicist sitting there with some magic Rolodex and going through it and calling reporters- that doesn’t exist anymore.  Similarly, I didn’t have a connection with you and we built that connection over time organically and then it just happened to work out that I had experts that worked with what you working on.  Can that person ebb and flow and can they move in where you need them to move to where it makes sense? Having that skill set is probably the most important skillset in digital PR. Can they plug in a CEO’s thought leadership expertise into the media conversation?  If you have that ability, then that trumps all.

If I was looking to hire a NY PR firm,  the first question I would ask is, are you a generalist or are you a specialist? If you’re a PR specialist, what do you specialize in? And then, is there a sub-specialty within that? And next, I would say, can I see examples of other press placements you have secured for your other clients?  I wouldn’t necessarily ask to see references because I think the best reference is all over the press you have secured. They don’t need to call other people that you’ve worked with. That to me is more opinion based than factually driven. Did I drive results for this person and what does my portfolio and body of work look like that you can find online or that I can put together for you where you can see all of the press coverage I secured? I’m a firm believer that it’s not my client’s job to sell for me, they’re busy, and I don’t want to give out their personal information. I feel like there are privacy issues around that too. Maybe some other people are okay giving out their client’s information all day long. I personally don’t want to do that.

I would want to see an example of the writing.  How does this person write? You, have to be a good writer.  You have to be able to clearly communicate new ideas and boil it down in a pitch letter.

Speaking English GIF by The Comeback HBO - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

Let me see a pitch.  Most publicists still say, “You can’t see my pitch.  You can’t see anything I write this is proprietary.” And I say, why? I believe that is part of a work for hire if it is stipulated clearly in your contract. If I have a client and they just want to steal my media connections or take my pitches, then what I’m doing isn’t valuable enough. Because I believe PR is so much more than that. If my clients want to try and reach out to you are you going to write back to them? Probably not, right? Because our relationship is stronger than that, like, go ahead, try. If they try, I have a strong enough relationship with the media that they would most likely just forward me that email to me. This business is based on trust. And the truth is what are they going to do pitch themselves?  The whole thing would just be a bad look.

It’s always better to have a PR consultant pitch you to the media than pitch yourself to the media.

Most people don’t know the nuances of how to write pitches for the media or how to boil things down in a way that makes sense and can be helpful or useful for a story or segment. Or they want to send every single idea that comes up or something that’s super trade publication focused. And it’s not necessarily what your audience is going to be interested in. But there’s a skill to understanding the difference in navigating that. This is where a PR consultant or personal branding expert can be extremely valuable.

Rhett Power: Knowing what you know, I mean, you get updates on what people are looking for at a specific moment, right? And that’s how you end up doing a lot of what that producer is looking for and whether you have a fit for it.  I mean you’re not pitching a producer something that you know isn’t going to work. So, you’re not going to waste your capital on that.

Kris Ruby: Correct. I also think that as publicists, we need to push back on ideas that are presented to us.

PRESS RELEASE DISTRIBUTION SERVICES: A GOOD USE OF MONEY FOR A NEW BUSINESS OR A WASTE?

Kris Ruby: Not everything is worthy of a press release. In fact, I think almost nothing is worthy of a press release.

I can’t remember the last time I wrote a press release. I mean, do you do anything with press releases? Nothing, right?

Rhett Power: No.

Kris Ruby: When people ask, “Can we write a press release on this?” I say, why?

The Press Release Is Dead 

Rhett Power: I haven’t done a press release in 15 years.

Kris Ruby: And what do you do with press releases when you receive them? Throw them out?

Rhett Power: I don’t even look at them.

Kris Ruby: You don’t even look at press releases anymore? Exactly. So, this is my point. If you have a client that says I want you to write a press release on this, don’t just say yes, push back and say no, because reporters aren’t even reading them anymore and they are a waste of time. I call it actually malpractice within public relations, where people don’t understand what the field of PR is, and publicists want to keep clients happy. They get these ridiculous requests thrown at them and they say yes because they want to keep the client happy and give good customer service.

My number one priority is keeping the media happy. If I can keep the media happy, I will be able to always keep clients happy because I will always have new media opportunities for them.  Clients come and go, but your media relationships won’t if you burn through them because of client requests like this.  If you start doing ridiculous amateur, rookie things that a client asks of you, which is why it’s very important that you don’t have an entry-level account coordinator or intern pitching the media, because unfortunately, they are green and don’t know the difference. And they’ll do those things because the client asked them to do and then the agencies’ media relationships will deteriorate.

Rhett Power: Right.

Kris Ruby: Which is exactly what I think you were saying before that you get these things because someone asked them to do it and you’re like, why am I receiving this?

#PRFAIL

Rhett Power: Well, because they didn’t want to be bothered to make the pitches themselves and really understand. Instead of sending out five pitches and to really tailor it to the audience you know, let me just broadcast it to my mailing list.

PR PITCHING: IS IT A DIRTY WORD?

Kris Ruby: I’m probably the only person in PR that thinks the word pitch is dirty because I don’t think about it as a pitch.  What I sent you, was that really a pitch? I don’t know, I just an idea for you that I thought would work and I didn’t give it to anyone else.   Is that a pitch? This notion of a pitch is so sales driven. It feels sleazy to me like it’s something that goes to a list and to all these people. I think we should replace the word pitch with a personalized idea that makes sense for someone.

Rhett Power: The way it came across to me, in all of our correspondence was, hey, I’ve got somebody that’s going to be good for you. You guys will connect. Right? And Thomas and I do you know, we hit it off, you know? Great, you know.  It didn’t come across as a pitch. Hey, friend, I’ve got somebody you might want to have on the show.

Kris Ruby: That’s why we need to replace this notion of a traditional PR pitch with what you’re referring to where it actually is better and makes sense because, again, that’s not a “pitch” that goes out to ten other people. It’s an idea that makes sense for you. That’s a relationship and an expert that you can use. And that’s what I think PR needs to evolve to if it’s going to survive.

Rhett Power: How do you set client expectations on what they’re going to get for PR services? Because the way I’ve been pitched before I remember and thinking of it, when I was a CEO, thinking of it this way. I’ve got a hat for the retainer that I’m paying you. I had some arbitrary thing in my mind of how many placements I wanted a month.  I mean, how do you handle that?

HOW DO YOU EVALUATE PR? WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN HIRING A PR FIRM?

Kris Ruby: It’s a great question. I’m very clear. In my first conversation with a new client I ask:

How are you going to measure the success of the Public Relations campaign?

  • Is it by the number of books sold?
  • Is it the number of press placements?
  • Or is it increasing website traffic?
  • What metrics will you use to evaluate?

PR EXPECTATION SETTING: MEDIA COVERAGE EXPECTATIONS FOR PR RESULTS.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE HIRING A PR AGENCY

If they respond with marketing-driven analytics, then I know what they need is marketing and not PR, but if they want to measure what I’m doing by the number of placements, then sure, that makes sense. An increase in brand awareness? I can deliver on that. I tell them, “I can typically secure around three to four press placements a month, but that’s not guaranteed you could have a month I guess, maybe it was zero. Luckily, I haven’t delivered that. But technically, you could because I can’t promise that a journalist is going to write about you. I can do my best to make it happen. But if something is going on in the world or the news cycle that trumps whatever I’m pitching, that will impact your PR campaign.

HOW DO I GET A FORBES ARTICLE WRITTEN ABOUT ME?

Also, we have a real industry-wide problem right now where people are sending out sales sheets, as you mentioned saying for x thousand dollars, you can get written in XYZ publication. This hurts the perception of PR and expectations around what is and isn’t realistic. Brands are trying to buy their way into media outlets.

Rhett Power: Yes, a lot of that.

Kris Ruby: And I just think this is not journalism, this is not PR. And certainly, if you’re working with me, I’m very clear that you can’t be doing that on the side. Because I don’t believe in it ethically, I think it is not okay.

Rhett Power: I get that stuff all the time. And even firms reaching out saying, “Hey, we’ll pay you to do,” I mean, like, there’s no way.  I’m not a journalist by any means. Technically I’m a columnist, but that’s just awful.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BE FEATURED IN FORBES?

Zero dollars. You should never pay someone a set price to get you featured in digital publications. Media awareness is earned, not bought! Anyone selling these articles is most likely running a scam!

Kris Ruby: That’s how I feel too. I do PR by the book in an old school way, at least in that regard, where that’s not part of the conversation. And it can’t be that you work with a publicist that practices like I do, but then you want to do that other stuff on the side because your SEO firm told you to. This is the other problem where, at this point, I’m demanding exclusivity with PR and marketing services in this area for precisely this reason. Because what you have now is people hiring multiple firms at a time, or you have people hiring a PR firm, and then a marketing firm, but then the marketing firm or an SEO side is telling him do this and that can hurt what you’re doing from a public relations standpoint. Let’s say they do that. And then someone blasts them. Well, there goes your PR campaign up in flames because you decided that this great advice from another consultant told you to do.   That’s going to be your PR, when you Google your personal brand, that will be the story about you.

So, this is why it’s hard when you have so many cooks in the kitchen from a PR and marketing perspective. And I see that happening more and more now as the agency landscape changes. When I started out in this industry, my PR contract was about two pages. Now I think it’s twelve. And people say, “Why do you need such a long contract? Well, I will tell you why. Because most people don’t understand what services they are getting when hiring a PR firm. I have a new section now that says client responsibilities and lays out what your obligations are. For example, failure of delivery on the client-side, meaning you have to participate in this process.  We’re not held responsible if you choose to hire a firm and then ghost us as a PR firm- that’s on you. It’s not on us. It is very clear and upfront that you have to participate in this process when you engage our agency for PR services. You have to work with us and you have to give us material and requested assets for this to work and be a successful engagement. More PR firms should follow suit in that precedent that I’m trying to set with that. That way people aren’t surprised. Fewer surprises mean happier clients. People don’t like surprises when they hire professional service providers. We have expectations written out and a scope of work attached to it. We have a timeline and deliverables included.  I think more of that should be included so people know what they’re getting.

PR VS. MARKETING: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?

Rhett Power: What’s the difference? I think that you brought that up, and I want to be very clear about what that difference is. PR versus the marketing firm. Because I think that term is really confusing sometimes to people. I know it is for clients I work with sometimes.

Kris Ruby: Is it the difference between PR and marketing, is that what you’re asking?

Rhett Power: Well, the terms of like, if I’m hiring, you know, you hear marketing PR lumped together quite often. And, yeah, I mean, and so, for a small business person or a leader here, that’s not a marketing-focused leader. I think sometimes those departments or companies have marketing PR departments. Right? And to me, they’re distinctly different things.

Kris Ruby: They are yes and I think that’s a mistake sometimes when they confuse the two and thing marketing and PR are the same.  Everyone thinks it is all going to be the same thing. Now. We’re all going to come together. Really. It’s not.  I’m so glad you brought this up because I think there’s such a double standard in this area because as public relations professionals, a lot of times, clients will evaluate our work with marketing metrics, but you never hear of a marketing consultant being asked to evaluate their work by PR metrics. When’s the last time you ever heard someone ask a direct marketer how many national TV hits did you get us? Zero? You never have heard that question. Right? But from a PR- How many new clients? Did you bring us? How much new website traffic did this generate? How many books did you sell? Those are marketing metrics.

Rhett Power: Right.

Kris Ruby: And you’re asked that all the time as PR professionals, but marketers are never asked to evaluate their work by PR metrics. To answer your question, PR is about brand visibility and Media Relations. It’s very different than marketing. If you want to hire a marketing firm, they’re going to help you start with more boots on the ground. Maybe Pay-Per-Click, digital marketing, digital advertising, maybe some media buying direct mailers, flyers figuring out who your target audience is.

Rhett Power: How to sell more stuff.

Kris Ruby: Marketing is interested in how to sell more stuff.  As PR, I’m interested in how can we influence more people through third-party recommendations, whereas I think marketing is focused on first-party recommendations and PR is third-party through the media. I think organic media exposure and earned PR is very powerful. But I believe in the PESO model, which is a combination of all of these different media channels including paid media, earned, search, organic and owned media. Owned media is so important. When you think about owned media, what falls under that is content marketing. Content marketing is the one area where I think that is a combination of PR and marketing if it’s done properly.

Rhett Power: And if you’ve got a PR firm and you’ve got a marketing firm or a publicist, what if you’ve got those two entities hired separately? How do you bring them together to be on the same page? Because, you know, you just talked about it is integrated in a lot of ways. How do you integrate it? How do you make sure that those two teams are working hand in hand?

Kris Ruby: You need someone who’s tasked with the responsibility of managing both relationships. If you’re going to hire two respective agencies, and then not be the person that’s managing them or not hire someone, you’re going to have a problem because what you’re going to have is people going in totally opposite directions, and no one is reigning them back in. And to answer your question, it starts with having a creative brief and a strategy and a shared document where people can see, okay, this is what our objectives are, this is the plan. Here’s how PR is going to tackle this and reach these goals. And then here’s how, conversely, marketing is going to tackle these business goals. So, you can all be on the same page and see and you can also learn.  There are key insights that I can see, oh, well, this is what they’re doing from a pay-per-click standpoint, that can give me an idea for PR that oh, well, maybe this is really who they want. So why don’t I try something in a trade publication to reach this person? Conversely, I think marketing can probably learn a little bit from PR too. And so that starts with transparency and having conversations of what both divisions are doing and frequent check-ins around that.

LARGE PR FIRMS VS. BOUTIQUE PR FIRMS:

Rhett Power: Big PR firms versus smaller boutique PR firms like yours. What’s the difference in the value of each?

Kris Ruby: I’m not just saying this because I’m a smaller PR firm.  I think the value of working with a small firm is you’re always going to get more time and greater value because you’re not paying for someone else’s overhead their fancy new office space and coffee machine because they’re scrappy and they don’t have to pay for those things because it’s a smaller PR firm.

Rhett Power: That 5th Ave office costs a lot of money.

Kris Ruby: Yes, exactly. And I also think for the same amount of money, or for less money, you’re going to get someone more experienced. Because what you see with larger PR agencies is this bait and switch sales process, which is, we’re going to take the senior person and work to get your business and take you out and then we will give you a junior account coordinator that will manage the account. I don’t see the bait and switch with smaller PR firms because the person you’re talking to is the person that usually services your account. There’s a massive value add in that for what you’re paying and the experience you’re getting when you hire a thought leadership pr agency.

Rhett Power: I think you’re going to get more technical experience with a smaller PR firm often.

Kris Ruby: Yes, I agree 100%. So, again, I’m not just saying that because I am a smaller firm, I see more entrepreneurs headed in that direction.  More people are hiring virtual agencies and more entrepreneurs are doing business with PR consultants that they’ve never even met and they work with them for years on end.  I don’t think you have to meet someone face to face to do a lot of this work anymore. Larger PR firms think that they have some sales advantage because they can wine and dine a client. My personal belief is I shouldn’t have to wine and dine someone. I think my results should speak for themselves. And maybe you think that’s this sort of millennial approach, and you still need to do all these other things that I don’t think so. I think your work should speak for itself. I mean, this is probably an interesting debate that we can have about this. I don’t know where you land on it.  I personally have hired people that I’ve never met and whether they take me out or not, I don’t really care.  I’m hiring them because of what they can do and their capabilities: not where we have lunch.

Rhett Power: Well, I’ll say this. I grew up working for one of my first jobs out of college.  I was a radio DJ and then figured out that I was never going to get off the midnight shift. And then I started working in the corporate side of the marketing and sales side of Clear Channel and then I did some agency work after that. I will say twenty or thirty years ago, when I was doing that, the wine and dine was still the model and I grew up in that system, I think. But I wouldn’t disagree with you now. I don’t think that as people get busier and busier, and I would rather when I come to New York, spend time working on- I’m not a client, but I’d rather go out to lunch or dinner with you or other influencers and other people who I know virtually, who I may never have met, who we feed off each other and we help each other on LinkedIn and we help each other on these other platforms. I’d rather spend time doing that than taking a client to lunch or dinner. Because I can’t think of the last time I took a client to lunch or dinner and business hasn’t suffered.

Kris Ruby: Exactly. I’m so glad you said that. I don’t think that’s a knock on us or people that aren’t doing it. Also, by the way, I don’t think most clients have enough time or want to do that.  Even if you ask them, would they be like, yes, let’s go? No.

Rhett Power: Yeah.

Kris Ruby: They aren’t dying to go to lunch?

Rhett Power: They are at home.

Kris Ruby: Yes, exactly. They don’t really want to do it. I think this is a move in a positive direction.  It’s not this Madman agency world that you’d see in that show when it aired. I think that’s changed. And the reason I say this on your show is because I think this is a positive thing for entrepreneurs or for anyone who’s graduating who may not have a lot of cash flow in the beginning who is worried about: how can I get business and how can I get new clients if I can’t take them out? There’s hope for you; you don’t have to. Just work on being really good at what you do.

Rhett Power: Yeah, and I think the other side of that is to spend more time.  It doesn’t negate the necessity to work on relationships.  If you’re going to spend your time, I’d rather spend that hour or two hours a night after work working on key relationships with people that I want to facilitate a relationship with on a platform and so on for me, it’s LinkedIn. Then, in any other activity, I think we still have to work on our relationships. And there’s an art to it when you do that online. That’s a whole lot different than face to face. But I do think we still need to do that. I think that’s essential.

Kris Ruby: Completely agree.

Rhett Power: I know you’ve got to get going and so do I. We’ve been on for about an hour and I do appreciate it. This is the Power Lunch Live show on LinkedIn. Thanks for joining us. Thanks for being with us. Thanks for spending your time with us. Kris, thank you.

******

WHAT ARE THE TOP THOUGHT LEADERSHIP AGENCIES?

PERSONAL BRANDING SERVICES

Personal Branding Agency – Westchester, NY

entrepreneur branding agency

 

Are you interested in accelerating the development of your personal brand? Ruby Media Group is a leading full-service thought leadership marketing agency. We help entrepreneurs, doctors, physicians, authors, and experts increase thought leadership through content marketing and public relations. Contact us today for a consultation on how to take your brand to the next level with our thought leadership and personal branding services. We have created award-winning thought leadership programs for best-selling authors, top doctors, and acclaimed experts. We specialize in creating healthcare thought leadership programs and building the brands of the most well-known business thought leaders in Corporate America. As personal branding consultants, we can revamp your brand and inject new life into stale branding tactics that haven’t worked. Our executive branding services include CEO branding, personal brand consulting, public relations, content marketing, social media marketing, CEO reputation management, brand management and more.  If you need an executive visibility strategy or are looking for a CEO branding company, contact us today to learn more. Plus, ask us about a recent case study of a digital marketing thought leader that we secured national press coverage for!

BUILD MY BRAND

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

branding expert kris ruby

PERSONAL BRANDING CONSULTANT- KRIS RUBY

Kris Ruby is widely recognized as one of the top personal branding experts in the country.  Her frequent thought leadership contributions on entrepreneurship, public relations, and social media have distinguished her as a leader in the personal branding industry.  Kris is regularly featured on Fox News as a commentator on PR, social media and crisis communications. Kris frequently shares her secrets to personal branding success in eBooks, podcasts and on her web site. As a nationally recognized commentator in social media marketing, Kris Ruby is a social media savvy entrepreneur who has a passion for building brands. She has created personal brands for private medical practices, entrepreneurs, lawyers, authors, and digital marketers. Contact Kris Ruby to learn more about personal branding consultant services.

 

 

PERSONAL BRANDING RESOURCES

If you liked this article, you may like some of our other articles on personal branding thought leadership PR strategies.

PR Tips For Developing a B2B Thought Leadership Marketing Strategy

Personal Branding in Commercial Real Estate: How to Build a Brand that Gets Noticed 

How to Leverage Social Media to Develop a Personal Brand & Increase Media Exposure 

All content on this web site is owned by Ruby Media Group Inc. © Content may not be reproduced in any form without Ruby Media Group’s written consent.  Ruby Media Group Inc. will file a formal DMCA Takedown notice if any copy has been lifted from this web site. This site is protected by Copyscape. If you would like to reproduce any portion of this podcast episode (a direct quote or audio snippet), please submit a written request. Permission is not granted for the reproduction of this episode without written authorization. This includes quotes, audio, visual, graphics from this podcast episode or transcript. 

 


B2B Marketing Podcast: How to Develop a PR Plan

b2b marketing podcast Kris Ruby

 

B2B PUBLIC RELATIONS: HOW DO I GET MEDIA EXPOSURE FOR MY COMPANY?

Are you interested in building out a thought leadership PR strategy? I was recently a guest on the Predictable B2B Success Podcast with Vinay Koshy. The Predictable B2B Success podcast is a marketing podcast for B2B marketers and public relations professionals. During the podcast, we discussed:

  • Best practices in B2B Public Relations
  • How to create a B2B PR Plan
  • Modern PR
  • Brand Positioning

Kris Ruby, CEO and founder of Ruby Media Group, shares how to drive your B2B marketing results with a powerful PR plan.

Listen to the podcast to learn:

  • The best way to approach setting up a PR plan that drives B2B and healthcare marketing results
  • Where a healthcare PR plan fits into your broader B2B marketing strategy
  • How to make sure your PR strategy succeeds with defined KPI’s & ROI
  • PR plan templates to track and monitor the progress of your campaign
  • The 5 ways to ensure your PR plan enhances your brand positioning
  • How to reach your target audience through PR in digital platforms
  • How to maximize SEO value from PR related content and media coverage
  • Why personal branding is critical to getting your future partners and audience to pay attention to your business and practice
  • The significance of video in your PR plan and strategy

PLUS: How to distribute your content and press placements after coverage has been secured.

Listen to the full episode here:

What is B2B PR?

Business-to-business (B2B) public relations targets a specific business audience, whereas business-to-consumer (B2C) public relations targets a general audience. With B2B PR, you are selling from one business to another. With B2C PR, you are reaching the public at large. Consumer PR and B2B PR are different fields within the public relations industry. A B2B PR campaign can help a business owner reach a target audience of C-suite executives through earned media coverage in trade publications or business verticals. A B2B public relations campaign can give your business a significant competitive advantage over your competitors through earned brand awareness. PR has tremendous value for mid-size and large companies that need to build up trust as a competitive asset.

B2B PR is ideal for:

  • Generating awareness among key decision-makers
  • Changing public perception of your company
  • Aiding in lead generation (but not responsible for lead gen)

Every business has goals they want to achieve and PR can be a useful tool for solving certain business problems. For example, maybe you need more revenue or need traction and name recognition for a startup brand, PR is a valuable solution to fix the business problem. As a PR practitioner, I help solve unique business challenges with the expertise of 12 years of PR experience in Public Relations.

How important is B2B marketing?

There are several benefits of B2B PR campaigns for executives and business leaders. B2B marketing and PR can:

  • Enhance your digital authority
  • Build your online reputation as a trusted advisor
  • Increase trust and credibility with prospects
  • Close your sales cycle faster
  • Generate more qualified leads

Do you come across as a trusted advisor or a spammy salesman on social media?

Does your content help your prospective clients and patients evaluate your expertise and industry insight?

Does your content address the problems and pain points of your target audience?  Or is it always about you? (Yikes!)

Quality thought leadership content leads to more informed decision making on B2B purchasing decisions.

It is not enough to be an expert. You must learn to become a visible expert in a digitally-driven economy. This must be highly specialized expertise.  Google is the new storefront. You must carefully think about what you are displaying.

The perception of your thought leadership expertise must match the reality of it.

Don’t have time to listen to the full interview? Read the expanded interview transcript below:

BEST PRACTICES IN B2B PUBLIC RELATIONS

Vinay Koshy: Pleasure to have you, Kris. I’m curious, you’ve got a string of accomplishments under your belt. What would you say is your personal area of strength?

Kris Ruby: My personal area of professional strength is combining public relations and personal branding. I like to figure out how I can take people and turn them into brands and create brand equity around their value in the market.

Vinay Koshy: What in that area of strength is something that businesses don’t know about public relations, but should?

Kris Ruby: PR can move the needle more-so than traditional marketing if executed properly.  For example, having your business featured on the cover of a trade publication can help your business development efforts way more than a traditional advertisement ever could. However, in order to get the maximum benefit out of PR, you need to create a B2B PR strategy first before you delve into tactics.

I see so many business owners today that want to jump at the next shiny marketing trend or offer. Whenever someone tells them that “this is what you need,” they go for it and try and get it. I don’t think that is necessarily a great public relations strategy for their business.

Instead, what you need to do is open up Microsoft Word and take the time to figure out:

  • What are my business goals?
  • What are my marketing objectives?
  • Where do I want to be in the next five years?

Only then after you have done that work, do you say, here’s how I’m going to plug in PR to the equation. Here’s how my personal brand plugs into that. Here’s how digital marketing plugs into that. But no one actually takes the time to do that work. Instead, they just say my competitors are doing social media, so I need to do it too.

MODERN PR: THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS

Vinay Koshy: You have a lot of experience in PR.  What would you say modern PR looks like?

Kris Ruby: Traditional PR has changed so much. With traditional public relations, you had all of these media gatekeepers that made it significantly harder to get press coverage unless you had a massive PR firm and it was more challenging to get featured in mainstream publications. Now what we’re seeing is that so many of these media outlets are being rolled up and acquired, so the market is shrinking as well as the number of traditional media publications that exist. This has led to the rise of digital PR, which is a field in and of itself. For example, a lot of executives that approach me don’t want traditional PR placements in print media because the opportunity for links doesn’t exist with traditional PR.  One of the greatest benefits of digital PR is the integration of SEO and content marketing into your B2B public relations strategy. All of this working in unison can be a powerful weapon for propelling your B2B thought leadership marketing strategy forward.

B2B PR PLAN: HOW DO YOU DEVELOP A PR STRATEGY?

Vinay Koshy: When it comes to PR, as you said, people get it wrong or can be confused. What would you say is the best way to approach setting up a PR plan that drives B2B marketing results? You’ve already alluded to the fact that executives should have a broad business strategy. But is there a place for a PR plan as well?

Kris Ruby: You should always have a PR plan before you start working with a B2B PR firm. For example, during the first two months we start working with a new client, we create a PR plan for the company that includes a fact sheet, a brand story, a new ‘about us,’ a new boilerplate that can be used in press releases (if applicable) etc.  We need time to gather collateral that we give to reporters. We also create a vision for corporate photography that we can use for new hi-res, headshots, revised executive bios etc.  We do this work to help our clients tell the right stories to the right audiences in a consistent, compelling and authentic manner.

It takes time to create a brand vision first before you ever pitch the media during the B2B public relations strategic phase. It’s not as simple as just saying “pitch the media” if you have no strategic plan behind it.

personal branding pr quote

 

As part of that B2B PR plan, you want to work with your public relations firm to determine:

What are our high-level public relations goals?

  • Are you interested in regional, national or trade press?

Here is a PR secret: business trade publications are a great resource for B2B PR because reporters are more likely to write a full profile on you than a consumer-facing outlet.

Examples of B2B PR goals include:

  • Introducing the company to trade focused media
  • Increasing credibility with industry influencers through an earned media campaign
  • Securing media coverage for a new product launch
  • Increasing visibility for the company through a media relations strategy
  • Strengthening the position of the company to the target audience you are selling to through press coverage

PR FOR STARTUPS: WHY DO STARTUPS NEED PR?

Vinay Koshy: With the PR plan, where does it fit into the broader B2B marketing strategy? Should you look at it once you’ve reached a certain level in your business? Or is it something that a startup could use straight off the bat?

Kris Ruby: It depends on the business and the startups’ PR goals. Startups can leverage PR if they have the funding to do it. I always tell startup CEOs that you only have one opportunity to get it right with the media when you launch a new business or product. That opportunity doesn’t come around again five years later. You only have one launch. You should promote the press release for a new business when you’re still new. If you miss that opportunity, you can’t come to us and say, “Can you put this out?”  No.  You launched five years ago. That is no longer newsworthy. Again, all of this starts with having a solid PR strategy for your startup. PR can be a great tool for startups to help build brand awareness, increase funding and round out pitch decks for investor relations. If you want to know more about how to get media coverage as a startup, this PR for Startup’s webinar is a helpful resource.

PR PITCHING: HOW DO YOU PITCH THE MEDIA?

Vinay Koshy: It’s more about the story that would capture the interest of the media and journalists, as well as their audience. Would that be correct?

Kris Ruby: Correct. It’s always about the story. And we can talk about best practices with B2B media relations, too. How do you create a good story? There are different layers of who a story may be of interest to.  For example, your story could be of interest to a reporter, but it still may not be of interest to that reporter’s editor or to the audience of that publication. There’s always several different audiences and layers at any given time when you’re pitching a story to a journalist.

Before clicking send, you have to think about: who will be most interested in this news?

It’s not enough for a reporter to love what you’re pitching.  Their audience and their editor also have to love what you’re pitching.  I wrote a media relations guide and it has a lot of helpful tips for your listeners where I include tips from former journalists. One of the interesting statistics is that the ratio is so skewed right now of public relations professionals to journalists– six to one. Just imagine that. Those odds are stacked against you whether you have a PR firm or not. You have so many more PR professionals, and so many fewer journalists, which is making it that much more challenging to get your pitch or story picked up in the media today.

What can you do to differentiate your brand or business? That is what you should be focused on, not Googling how you can do your own PR.  Today, there are so many DIY PR courses.  I often talk about what I call PR corporate negligence and malpractice because I think that telling a business owner to do their own media outreach can cause long term collateral damage.

FREE PR AND DIY PR: WHY IT’S A MISTAKE

Vinay Koshy: What sort of damage could people expect with DIY PR strategies?

Kris Ruby: Oftentimes, C-suite executives that try to do their own PR and media outreach without formal media training do not understand the intricacies of how the media works. For example, these are the people who read some free e-book online or spent $99 on a course think they’re ready to go and these are the same people that speak to the media and say, “Oh, this may or may not be off the record.” They’re floundering around and then a story comes out and they want it fixed. And they don’t understand that they can’t get it fixed because it’s not a paid advertisement. They don’t actually understand the difference between public relations and advertising from the start.

PR VS. ADVERTISING

PR is a storyline that you put out that you lack any control of. Advertising is something that you pay for. It’s a story you put out with graphics and creative, but you control it.  PR and advertising are very different communication channels. One is earned, and the other is paid for.

ROI OF PUBLIC RELATIONS: HOW DO YOU MEASURE PR SUCCESS?

Vinay Koshy: What about ensuring that the story actually drives your business objectives? Because you can have a great piece of content that people love, but say, “Oh, that was great,” and move on, as opposed to taking some action. Can you speak to how that drives the ROI of a particular B2B PR campaign?

Kris Ruby: You’re touching on a really interesting topic, which is the value of PR for the sake of PR without a strategy. You could secure a top-tier press placement in a national newspaper, but if it’s a story of you talking about something that has nothing to do with your long-term business objectives, then was it still valuable, and what is the ROI of that? And the ROI of that may not be what you’d expect if it has nothing to do with your business.

I always tell people, “It’s not about the ROI of any one individual press placement. It’s about the ROI of all of these press placements together over many years.”

That’s why you’ll see that most PR firms will require six-month agreements or twelve-month contracts. No one’s really doing a one-month agreement in PR. And ideally, you should be working with a PR firm for many years. The reason I say that is not just so that they can keep you on retainer and have your business for eternity. It’s so that they can represent you to reporters and develop relationships with them over a long period of time, because maybe that PR firm will pitch you right now and the reporter can’t use you as a source. But they could use you a year from now or two years from now. That’s why I think it helps the client in the long run.

As far as the ROI of public relations, there are many ways to evaluate and measure it.

First, you want to look at Google Search Console and then analytics on the back end and take a look at:

  • What web traffic did this article or this press placement drive?
  • What is the conversion rate of the traffic?

You can also look at:

  • Increase in inbound links
  • Referral traffic from press coverage
  • Branded search traffic (has the traffic increased for your CEO’s name?)

Some measurement questions to consider:

  • Did the press coverage in a national business publication increase web traffic by X sessions or visits?
  • Did a blog post generated by the PR team result in X shares on social media?
  • What is the year over year increase in business press coverage?
  • How many new reporters at top-tier outlets have been exposed to your company?
  • What is the conversion rate of pitching to placements?
  • Is there a particular article mention or op-ed that is sending consistent, referral traffic to your web site?

Metrics-driven marketers often fail to see the value in PR.

Often, the results of PR are intangible. Just because you can’t immediately see something or measure it the same way does not mean it is not valuable.

MAXIMIZING PRESS COVERAGE: HOW TO AMPLIFY & LEVERAGE EARNED MEDIA  

Kris Ruby: PR for the sake of PR means nothing if you’re not doing anything with the press coverage you have secured. It’s not just that you record a podcast interview or you get featured in a magazine.  You have to take that coverage and put it on your web site.  You have to take it and keep a list or a log of all of the press placements that you’ve done so that it becomes impressive to a producer, journalist, podcaster or reporter when they are searching for your brand name online. You also want to leverage your press coverage for your sales process as well.  One mistake I see people making is that they do all of these incredible interviews with the media.  They get these amazing national hits, and they do nothing with it.

And I bang my head against the wall and wonder why are they even doing it? Because if you don’t organize that content for people (the media or their audience), then it becomes less impressive. The onus is on you to do that, not your PR agency.  That’s actually a separate service that most PR firms don’t offer.

If you really want to take your PR campaign to the next level and build a brand, you have to package that content together to build your personal brand. This is where branding comes in and personal branding is not the same thing as traditional public relations.

A branding consultant is skilled at taking your entire body of work and packaging it together in a way that differentiates you in the market, whereas a publicist is skilled at securing interviews for you with the media. They are in two different fields.

Vinay Koshy: So, it makes sense, therefore, to have some sort of spreadsheet to track all the stories and PR releases that you’ve done over the years. Does it also make sense to have some sort of PR template that you could use to build out your plans as they evolve over time?

Kris Ruby: That’s another document you can save in Word or Google Drive where you can keep periodically updating it.  For example, when I first started out, I was more of a generalist. I became more of a specialist in healthcare PR and corporate communications. If I were creating a PR plan today, that plan would be different than when I first started my company in 2009. Today, I would want to do more targeted outreach geared towards getting on the radar of healthcare reporters or journalists in that space, so I could reach the audience in that area, as opposed to doing more general media outreach, which isn’t going to reach that audience. That not only changes your PR plan, it also changes any advertising dollars you’re spending too.

B2B MARKETING STRATEGIES: BRAND POSITIONING & PR

Vinay Koshy: I would presume that laying out your brand positioning goals is also a key part of that B2B PR plan?

Kris Ruby: In B2B PR, it’s not about being everywhere. It’s about being somewhere and targeting the ideal person or end user that you want to target. For example, let’s look at a comparison. Option A could be a national talk show. Option B could be a podcast that’s b2b like this one where it’s highly specialized. Which is more valuable to you? If your goal is to say that you got national media coverage, you could choose option A for the talk show. But if your goal is to actually get more clients and conversions for what you do, where you have an opportunity to talk about what you do and educate your prospective audience, it is option B. I think that that’s something that people don’t understand.

There’s still this allure, which I think is a fallacy, of national media.  “National media!” “We want that!” and it’s challenging for me to understand as a PR practitioner because I look at what’s happened with the fragmentation of media and I think there are so many great opportunities to get your message out to a highly specialized audience today. That audience may be smaller, and you may think it’s not worth your time and you’re dead wrong because something smaller and specialized is way better than something that reaches the whole country that may not be who you want to be reaching or want to do business with.

Vinay Koshy: Certainly, and we can bring this back to brand positioning. I would imagine that really identifying and clarifying your unique selling proposition (USP) would be a key factor. Is there anything else that we need to keep in mind?

Kris Ruby: In terms of brand positioning, in the media relations guide I talk about the five W’s as well. Why now? Is this time-sensitive? For example, let’s say you are a physician, and you’re a specialist within the field. What do you want to be known for? Because there are a ton of cardiologists. What makes you different? Do you have a specialty? And then I keep going further.  You have to really niche down and keep going deeper and deeper into that and what that looks like.  Because just saying, for example, that you are a doctor in this field- that’s not having a brand or a strong value proposition.

A personal brand that is primed for the media is when a reporter can go to you and know that you are the subject matter expert in that specific vertical. That doesn’t only happen because of the PR firm you hire.  The onus is on you to do the work and to make that happen.

People make this mistake where they think, “I’m going to hire a PR firm and they can do that work for me.” No, they can’t. All of these people have one thing in common, whether they work with me or another PR firm, they’re still subject matter experts and key opinion leaders in their field. The difference is that they don’t know how to translate that subject matter expertise in digital platforms. And that’s where I come in as a PR professional. However, their authority and offline influence still exist with or without us. If you think that you can hire a PR firm and they’re going to create that for you, think again.

No one can create that for you. No one can join the organizations that you need to join to show that you’re involved in your industry. No one can publish op-ed articles for you. No one can publish in trade journals for you. You have to do the heavy lifting. And then it’s the PR firms’ job to take that and package it. But you have to understand that you need to give someone something to work with. And just saying, “I’ve arrived” is not enough.

People don’t realize that they have to round out their brands offline before their branding package is complete online. Your brand has to be malleable, and you must be open to constructive criticism, feedback and change if you hire a personal branding firm or PR consultant. Many times, I make recommendations on what someone needs to modify before I can start pitching them to the media.

If you ignore these suggestions, your success rate is going to be limited in the coverage you get.

PR CLIENT ONBOARDING: WHY THE DISCOVERY PROCESS IS CRITICAL

Vinay Koshy: Do you find a bit of an educational process with new PR clients before they’re even ready to be taken on as a client?

Kris Ruby: Yes, it’s a steep learning curve. I know another PR practitioner who says, “I always ask how many other firms have you worked with?” And I say, well, why do you ask that? And he says, “Well if I’m the first firm, I won’t do it. Because the learning curve is that steep.” And then there are so many questions that first time PR clients have. For example, if you give interview answers – your answers may not be used.  Someone who is new to the world of PR and journalism doesn’t understand that. They think, “I gave the answers, so what happened to them?” Well, remember, let’s bring up that six to one ratio because anytime I’m pitching, a reporter is getting hundreds of other answers too from other experts.  And then there’s also teaching people how to write better interview answers to increase their likelihood of getting quoted in media interviews. There are so many nuances and layers to media relations and media training that are critical for B2B marketing success.

We have a proven process for showcasing your expertise through 3 pillars: content marketing, social media and public relations. Want to find out more? Contact us today.

MEDIA OUTREACH STRATEGY: HOW DO YOU PROMOTE A B2B COMPANY IN THE PRESS?

Vinay Koshy: How would you identify the best media outlets to reach your target audience through a B2B PR plan? I mean, I would assume that if you’re not engaging with a PR firm for the first time, you would have some idea. But are there other ways to start refining where your audience hangs out? Whether it be in terms of journals or other places online or offline?

Kris Ruby: Everyone typically has an idea of who their target audience is and how they want to reach them. If you start talking to an executive, they will typically say, “oh, well, we’ve advertised in this publication.”  That can be a clue when you’re putting together the PR & Marketing history in the onboarding stage of where someone has previously been featured in, although that history may not actually be indicative of where they should be going, but it helps you understand what they have done from a marketing perspective, and what was most successful (or not).

When you are creating a PR strategy for a B2B company, you want to spend the time to identify their business goals and objectives and understand the key answer to why are we doing this? The answer is not because they believe something is newsworthy.  There is a problem in the PR industry where a client will say, “this is newsworthy and put it out.”

More PR practitioners need to push back and say, “No, it’s not.”  They have to provide that lens of the reporter. If you look at PR firms or publicists and if there’s one line of how you could differentiate them, there are the ones that push back with clients and there are the ones that don’t. And the ones that push back, I would argue, get more media coverage for clients, because they’re thinking like reporters. And that’s why you see so many people in the PR industry today who are former producers and journalists who have a deep understanding of how a newsroom works.

I wrote for Observer for over two years. As a columnist, I understood the internal process of what it took to write for a digital publication after being on the other end of receiving pitches. That’s an invaluable experience for me to have as a publicist. I have also done over 100 national TV segments and have first-hand experience in a breaking newsroom environment. I understand how quickly TV news works, the pace that it works at, and how those pitches look from the other end regarding what producers are looking for when they’re looking for guests. And that’s just an invaluable experience that is relevant. I think more PR professionals need to have boots on the ground training and real-world experience to provide the best guidance to their clients.

Vinay Koshy: I’ve noticed that a lot of PR firms hire content managers or editors with a news or journalism background. Would you say that could potentially double as the experience and the need to know for a potential PR opportunity?

Kris Ruby: There is definitely some overlap there. It’s great to hire former writers and journalists to spearhead the content marketing and PR division. However, the challenge that I’ve seen with that is that someone who is a great writer may not necessarily be thinking about the best SEO strategy for your web site.  And someone who is also a great writer may not be thinking about your SEO goals or what content will rank and how that ties into your PR strategy. If you have great content that doesn’t pertain to the words that people are using to find you on search engines and have no opportunity of ranking on the search pages and snippets, that’s a problem.

What’s happening today is that you have business owners who are hiring all these consultants who are working in a silo and none of them are communicating with each other.  You’re paying people for marketing and PR jobs, but there’s no high-level strategy going on. All of these things are being done and no one is communicating with each other, so you are not getting as much value out of the activities or engagement as you could be.  It’s not just about having one skillset. It has to be an overlapping set of skill sets and you need to have someone that’s driving that overall public relations strategy and managing that.

To make the most out of your investment, you need to integrate your public relations program with your B2B marketing campaign for the greatest chance of success.

Collaboration across all verticals and teams is critical for the success of the PR program.  This includes sales, marketing, public relations, content, social media and external agency partners. Additionally, when you treat your agency like a vendor and don’t give them the respect of sharing the high-level strategy that you are doing across all verticals, it will wear on them over time, and it will hurt the long-term agency relationship. Mutual respect is critical, especially as lines become blurred across marketing divisions.

PUBLIC RELATIONS & CONTENT MARKETING: HOW DO YOU GET PUBLICITY?

Vinay Koshy: In terms of creating the type of content that you would use for PR in conjunction with anything else that might already be going on, blog posts or other educational informational pieces that they’d be putting out, how does a PR practitioner need to coordinate with the in-house team to develop and coordinate the publishing of content?

Kris Ruby: Our clients spend a lot of time answering interview questions, but not all of those answers will get picked up by the media for a number of different reasons. We keep track of the interview answers in a master document. If a placement doesn’t run, sometimes their answers are so good, actually, that I hope that may not be used so they can be used as a blog post on their site. So that process starts where if that happens, we have a separate service now, which is a blog writing service where we will take that as the backbones and the skeleton of a possible new post for them, and then integrate with the director of content or SEO and optimize it. But what’s great is that the writing is already done by the client. Any writing that’s done on someone’s blog should come from them. I don’t believe in ghostwriting, I believe in editing and optimizing.

I don’t believe in writing on behalf of a client. And perhaps that’s because I work with a lot of doctors in the medical field, but I think it needs to come from them. I know there’s some debate about that in the content marketing community where people think, “Oh, I’m going to hire a service and they understand medicine, they can do it for me,” and I just think well, then how are you really a subject matter expert? Your personal brand that I’m putting out there, or anyone’s putting out there for you is supposed to be because you are the go-to authority. It’s challenging to trust that someone is a go-to authority if someone else is writing on their behalf.  No one knows what’s inside your head, only you do. You have to take that knowledge, put it on paper, and then let someone edit it and optimize it. That’s how PR and B2B thought leadership programs need to work together.

Vinay Koshy: Is there an element of planning together as they create that PR plan, in terms of content that will be put out or produced?

Kris Ruby: At a larger PR agency, you’re going to see more of that. For smaller PR firms, unfortunately, I think you don’t see that and it’s separate. But it really depends on the size of the client, the PR agency and resource allocation for the campaign.

Vinay Koshy: Once you have a rough piece that you think has the potential to be used as a PR pitch, how much more needs to go into developing it to make it pitch worthy?

Kris Ruby: For blog posts, you’re looking at hours and hours of work to optimize that content. And you also need to keep doing Google searches to see what other questions people are asking to optimize that content.  PR pitches are different. So that work is going to be more about formatting it properly, making sure you’re answering any questions that a reporter has.

b2b marketing pr plan kris ruby podcast

HARO: WHAT IS HARO? HOW TO GENERATE FREE PUBLICITY 

Kris Ruby: HARO is a great tool but, like any tool, it can be useful or dangerous. Professionals use HARO to find opportunities for their clients but, too often, people who don’t know how to work with the media dive in and probably do more harm than good for their brands.

Some people use HARO, help a reporter out, as a free service. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to use HARO properly. And again, it’s a free PR tool, but what they do is they don’t actually answer the questions. HARO is about answering questions at the end of the day. That’s literally what it’s about.  HARO is about helping a reporter out. That’s what it means. It means they’re on deadline. They need you to help them now. Drop what you’re doing and answer them.  It doesn’t mean help them ten hours from now.  It doesn’t mean help them tomorrow. It means help them NOW.

So right off the bat understanding that is really critical if you want to increase your success rate with HARO. But the next is, are you actually answering the questions? It doesn’t mean answering only the ones you want and skipping the rest or taking questions out. It means answering them. And then the third component of that is giving lengthy answers.  Give a reporter a lot that they can pull from. If you give someone one sentence, it’s not usable.

I saw that from the other end when I was writing for Observer and working on two different roundup articles.  The sources that gave you exactly what you wanted and where you didn’t have to go back and forth with the publicist ten times were the people who got quoted. Why? Because they answered the questions and supply you with the requested information and make it easier to file a story and move on to the next article. One thing that would help people increase their PR success rate is creating their own podcast or blog and quoting other influencers within their industry.  The more you start to do that, the more you understand what’s really required, and how to make it easier for other people to give them what they need.  At the end of the day, that’s what PR is about.

Moral of the story: it may seem tempting to try to do your own PR with tools like HARO, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. There is an art and craft to responding to queries that PR practitioners are trained in. This is why you should leave it to the pros instead of trying to do it yourself and hearing crickets back. Also, HARO is not a PR strategy, it is only one tool.

PR TIPS: SCORE MORE INK WITH THESE B2B PUBLIC RELATIONS TIPS

Vinay Koshy: Is there anything else that we should be aware of when crafting public relations pitches for particular business-focused trade journals?

Kris Ruby: When crafting pitches, the first thing you want to do is research the writer, look at their beat and look at other things they’ve written about. And don’t just say, I saw that you wrote about this story, and you left me out. Can you add me? Also, if they previously covered it, they’re most likely not going to write the same exact article again. Take a look at broad strokes, what they write about and then say, “I read these other things that you wrote and I have something that I wanted to add.  If you’re working on anything else in this vertical in the future, please reach out.”

Introduce yourself, let them know you are a source. Also, if you’ve published an article in a trade journal, share it with them. You never know if they could add it to what they are working on.  Journalists, reporters, and producers always want to have a great Rolodex of sources that they can go to and quote.

It’s not just about getting your pitch picked up. It’s also about letting someone know you’re a source so that when they need you, you’re available.

Vinay Koshy: I’m curious, what would you do in instances where, let’s say you have an editor for a journal or magazine or some sort, but you’d like to be featured in, but they aren’t necessarily producing content themselves that get featured in that journal or magazine? How would you approach someone like that?

Kris Ruby: I would propose the idea before writing the article because you don’t know if they’re going to approve the idea. Then I would say, this is something I’d be interested in writing for your site.

PERSONAL BRANDING VS. PUBLIC RELATIONS

Vinay Koshy: How would you stand out when pitching the media? Most editors get hundreds, if not more, by way of pitches, how would you aim to stand out when you know very little about the actual editor and the interests other than what is published in the magazine?

Kris Ruby: One way to stand out is with a personal branding package where you put together a list of the other links and places you’ve been featured in, and maybe your own writing and your blog where they can see what that looks like. However, I’d also caution people away from the guest posting strategy that once reigned supreme in the digital marketing world. I know everyone still wants to do it to say that they were featured in Forbes or Inc. etc.. The problem is that you lose a little bit of SEO value when you give away your best content to these other sites because every site needs content, but you know, whose site also needs content, your own.  People are thinking so much about a PR benefit of being on these other sites to be able to say “As seen on Forbes,” but what they don’t understand is that a lot of these links are no-follow links. Google recently just made some changes with no-follow and maybe it’s going to count. Maybe it won’t.

The point is that some of this will turn into duplicate content if you take it and then put it directly on your site. And again, that’s a whole other debate about, is duplicate content of it. I don’t think it is; some people do. That’s another podcast discussion. You should keep your best writing for your web site. If you want to do this other strategy where you write content and you know that you get a follow link fine. I don’t think that you should do it for a bunch of no-follow links. I don’t think that most PR practitioners are having this conversation with their clients. And again, I think it’s negligent. It is important to understand this because you can’t ask a client to put out their best thought leadership content for a no-follow link and not understand what that means. You can’t work in digital PR and have zero understanding of SEO or what that entails in your broader digital marketing strategy. And so much of the traditional PR industry is still operating with their head in the sand about that. And I think that they need to have those skill sets work together as a fundamental component of your B2B content marketing strategy.

Vinay Koshy: I would assume that if you’re going down that route, then developing a PR distribution plan would also be important for your content, once it gets published, and if you’re not accepted there, then another potential publication would pick it up.

Kris Ruby: Sure. If you’re going down that route, you could do that and have a list of media outlets you want to pitch.

Vinay Koshy: So this would primarily go back to the original PR plan itself and the places that you’d like to be featured in. You would just focus on that and just distribute a potential story or a piece of content to those specific places. Would that be right?

PROACTIVE VS. REACTIVE PR: HOW CAN I INCREASE MY MEDIA COVERAGE?

Kris Ruby: Let’s discuss the fundamental strategies for increasing your media coverage. There are two different types of PR approaches: proactive and reactive PR. I’m a specialist in reactive PR, and what you’re asking about is proactive PR. Proactive PR is about coming up with a plan and saying, “I want to reach out to these people,” and then you pitch them. Reactive PR is when you’re reacting to journalists who are already working on a story and saying, “I need a subject matter expert.” I have found that the success rate is significantly higher with a reactive PR approach because you’re giving someone what they already need when they’re working on it, as opposed to shooting in the dark and hoping that maybe someday they’re going to write something. A reactive PR approach is dictated by what a reporter is writing about at that moment versus who you ideally want to be pitching for a larger feature story.

Vinay Koshy: That’s interesting. So, with a reactive PR approach, you have a library of perspectives and content that you can pull from?

Kris Ruby: There’s no library because all the questions are new and different every time depending on the story or segment.   The library has to exist in your head. You have to really understand the breaking news in your industry to be able to meet the needs of journalists if you’re going to do reactive PR because they’re going to ask you, “can you comment on this?” and if you don’t know what they’re talking about, then you’re going to lose with reactive PR.

The best thing you can do is follow the news in your industry every day so that you are ahead of the curve when a reporter says, “Instagram is removing the follow feature,” and you know what they’re talking about.  Because if I go to a client and say, “what do you think about this story?” and they say, “what are you talking about?” we’re going to lose that opportunity. But if that client is already following the news, they’re going to be able to give me an answer in two seconds. Part of a reactive PR approach is that you have to dedicate at least an hour every day to reading the news.

Vinay Koshy: And I’m assuming that you would very much be using social listening and tools in that space to keep track of all that’s going on, especially with the media.

Kris Ruby: There’s new technology that’s being created as we speak. Something like a HARO 3.0 that will bridge the gap with social media and what reporters are working on. We’re seeing some of that technology come out right now, which is an exciting time for the PR industry. I hope the whole industry shifts in that direction. And one area that doesn’t exist in is TV and getting guests for TV. I would like to see something like that happen in broadcast too- it would be interesting for the industry. I don’t know if it will ever happen, but it would be cool if it did.

Vinay Koshy: Taking that same thought and applying it to social media because even news clips and things of that nature can be viewed on social media. What other tools that allow for that engagement with like podcast hosts or live TV, live video streaming, hosts and things of that nature?

Kris Ruby: There are podcast aggregation sites where you can find podcast guests and a lot of the resources are paid at this point. Cision is also a paid service. As an agency, we spend thousands of dollars every year on paid media query services. That’s part of the value you get when you work with a PR firm.  One of the benefits of working with a PR agency is that they’re covering the cost of all of that for you. Similarly, if you work with an SEO firm, you’re assuming that they’re paying for all of those tools, too.

B2B PR THOUGHT LEADERSHIP: WHY IT MATTERS FOR THE C-SUITE 

Vinay Koshy: How important would you say video marketing is even if you’re not being featured on other channels, whether it be a major distribution network or a TV station on say, channels, we’re talking B2B here. So, let’s say LinkedIn.

Kris Ruby: Video is a critical component of your B2B PR strategy. LinkedIn is practically giving away organic views right now.  In terms of organic video reach, the views are off the charts compared to Facebook. It is what Facebook was many years ago in terms of getting people to see that content right now. If you are a corporate executive, you need to be creating video in between your press placements and media interviews as an integral component of your thought leadership public relations program. LinkedIn is the best way to reach key decision-makers in the C-Suite.

However, there is one major problem that I want to address. If you were to create a chart of an executive creating a critical mass of media coverage in a very short amount of time, their content has to back up their PR. It can’t just be that you’ve gotten featured in 20 places but you’re not publishing content to support the subject matter expertise behind that, or else it looks like the PR firm did all this great work, but where is the content to back it up? This is what I call strategic PR.

Most PR professionals don’t get involved in this component of it, because their job is to get the client hits.  They get the hits and they think their job is done. I disagree. I think it’s not. You need to guide a client with a holistic PR approach to what is best for their entire business. Because if you get a bunch of press placements in all of these media outlets in a really short amount of time, that can almost damage your credibility, because suddenly you came out of the woodwork.  “Where did this person come from?” is what people start to wonder, and if you’re not putting out content on a business blog to back that up, it can negatively impact your PR campaign. You need to do all of this in a very integrated fashion.

With media fragmentation and so many live streaming and digital options right now, people still say, “I only want to be on traditional television broadcast channels.” Look at the success of Cheddar TV or some of those other digital media outlets. Those are great PR opportunities for coverage that you shouldn’t pass up, as long as you can obtain HD video links from the national TV appearances.

Vinay Koshy: For someone uncomfortable with putting themselves on screen, what would you say would be a good place to start and start thinking about content that they could use or create around the video and place on channels like LinkedIn?

Kris Ruby: Everyone is great at doing what makes them most comfortable. If you are uncomfortable in front of a camera, it’s hard for me to say that you should definitely be doing video or live TV, even if the market dictates that you have to do video right now as part of your social media marketing or PR strategy.  I can’t necessarily say you should do it. However, you may be more comfortable doing something like a podcast, and therefore that may make more sense for you. You should do what you shine in.

You shouldn’t just do everything because a social media or PR consultant tells you that you have to be everywhere. Do the thing that you’re best at. For example, there are people who are conference speakers and they’re on the circuit and that’s their thing. Those same people may not shine on-air, just like someone who is on-air may not shine being in a conference around a bunch of people because they’re more introverted. You have to know your strengths, and then let someone else know what they are and develop a plan around that. But don’t develop a plan around your insecurities or doing something that you don’t like or you’re not comfortable with because a PR practitioner tells you to.

Vinay Koshy: So play to your strengths.

Kris Ruby: Yes, you know why? Because your content is going to be better.  I’ll give you a great example. A woman who wears a dress and they’re not comfortable in it. People always say, well, you shouldn’t wear that. Wear what you’re comfortable in. Because then you’re not thinking about your dress. You’re thinking about what you’re saying- it’s the same logic here.

B2B MARKETING SUCCESS: FINAL THOUGHTS

Vinay Koshy: What would you say is your top tip in creating predictable B2B marketing success?

Kris Ruby: My top tip in creating predictable B2B marketing success is to understand that public relations is not going to be a one-off approach.  You have to be doing content marketing, PR, personal branding, digital marketing, plus social media all in unity.  You can determine at any time where you want to increase the level of x percentage on each one of those areas. But it’s not going to be something where you just decide not to do any one of those areas for any extended length of time.

I see executives who achieve amazing results with any one of those areas, and once they get results, they rest on their laurels. Unfortunately, that is not a way to have predictable B2B marketing success. You want to understand what’s changing in B2B marketing and public relations so that you don’t feel like a dinosaur.  I started my company as an entrepreneur when I graduated from Boston University’s College of Communications at 21. I’m 33 and now and I can still feel like a dinosaur at my age too! I like to share that with people because a dinosaur doesn’t have to do with age, it has to do with the amount of time you have in any given industry, and what changes that industry has had over that length of time. If I were still practicing like I did when I was 21, I’d be out of business.  You have to keep innovating and stay in the game.

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B2B PR TIPS

Final tips for developing a B2B Thought Leadership Marketing & Public Relations Strategy:

  • Develop original and unique perspectives as a business leader
  • Showcase POV on emerging trends
  • Post a Speaking Engagement on YouTube
  • Share a Conference Presentation on SlideShare
  • Post a blog on trending industry Issues or the latest research
  • Share key insights on LinkedIn. What is the future of your industry?
  • How can you display forward-thinking subject matter expertise to show you are on the pulse?
  • Analyze emerging industry trends.
  • Share a unique perspective or POV that has not been regurgitated.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

B2B PUBLIC RELATIONS CONSULTANT- KRIS RUBY

Kris is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, an award-winning NY public relations marketing agency that helps companies leverage the power of content marketing to increase exposure. Over the past decade, she has consulted with small to large scale businesses, including Equinox and IHG hotels to name a few. Kris is a seasoned social media strategist with 10 plus years of building successful brands. Kris Ruby has led public relations programs for B2B clients and Fortune 500 companies as well as private NY medical practices. She’s a sought-after digital media strategist and PR consultant who delivers high impact social media training programs for executives, and she is a trusted media source and frequent on a commentator on social media tech trends and crisis communications, and often speaks on Fox News, CNBC and Good Morning America, among other TV networks. 

ABOUT THE PREDICTABLE B2B SUCCESS PODCAST

The predictable B2B success podcast is a show that helps business owners, marketing and sales executives achieve predictable growth by expanding their influence. Each episode features an interview with a founder, sales or marketing executive or thought leader in the B2B space discussing topics like marketing strategy, sales strategy, strategic partnerships, customer success, customer experience, people experience, hiring, social media, content creation and marketing, podcasting, video marketing, influencer marketing, agile marketing and much more.  The show features well-known authors or hosts of popular podcasts but most importantly you’ll hear from those who have hands-on experience in creating predictable B2B success. Through each episode, the show will help you explore the best ways to create predictable B2B success in your business. This podcast will make you a better B2B publicist and marketer!

PUBLICITY PROGRAMS FOR B2B MARKETING/ B2B PR AGENCY SERVICES

B2B Marketing to Doctors– Medical Practice PR 

Elevate your B2B marketing plan with PR services and reach new customers and key constituents with a public relations strategy. As an award-winning B2B public relations agency, we have secured B2B PR results for companies including feature stories in business trade publications and even cover stories in trade-focused verticals. To see our B2B PR portfolio, reach out.  RMG specializes in developing publicity programs that work in conjunction with B2B marketing plans to drive increased visibility, leads, sales and earned media coverage. For a complimentary audit and to learn more about our B2B marketing services, contact us today.

Do you have a marketing podcast for B2B marketers and publicists? If you are interested in having our CEO on as a guest on your podcast, contact us here.

For more digital marketing advice, read our next article:

Thought Leadership Marketing: How to raise your media profile as a CEO 

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Public Relations Podcast: Inbound PR Success

Inbound PR Kris Ruby podcast

 

Listen to the Inbound Success podcast interview I recorded to learn more about public relations and how you can leverage PR as part of your inbound marketing strategy.

“It’s so interesting to me that somebody from the PR world so intuitively gets what it means to do inbound marketing correctly.  There’s a lot of practical information here for any marketer who has ever considered using PR as part of their strategy.”-Kathleen Booth, Inbound Success Podcast Host

Inbound Success Podcast

“Ruby Media Group CEO Kristen Ruby breaks down the top myths surrounding PR and inbound marketing. In this podcast, Ruby gets into detail about who should consider using PR, when to use it, how much you should expect to pay, and what kinds of results you should expect when you hire a PR firm.”

In addition, we cover the difference between PR for brand building and PR for SEO, as well as the difference between reactive and proactive PR.

Listen to the full PR podcast episode here 

INBOUND PR PODCAST HIGHLIGHTS

Highlights from the Inbound Success Podcast Interview: 

  • A PR specialist is different than a media relations specialist.
  • PR can encompass anything in a communications and marketing plan, whereas media relations is specifically about interaction with the media.
  • PR is a great strategy for any business or healthcare practice that is looking to build a long-term, sustainable funnel of leads.  It is also great for building your personal brand.
  • One of the key benefits of PR is that it can contribute to building your domain authority, which is helpful for SEO.
  • In terms of setting expectations for a PR engagement, the results you can achieve are very dependent upon the news cycle and what journalists and reporters are interested in covering.
  • You should expect to commit to working with your PR firm for at least one hour each day.
  • When it comes to inbound PR, it’s important to build up online authority so that the media sees you as a credible source. Building this authority starts with what you are doing offline. The key is to translate that offline authority into digital platforms.
  • For doctors looking to get started with healthcare PR, publish content that is aligned with your media coverage goals. This content can be published on your website, LinkedIn profile, etc.
  • The cost of PR can vary widely depending upon the scope of services, the type of media coverage that you’re looking for and the size of the NY public relations firm you want to work with.
  • If you want to be on national TV as part of your PR plan, it is worth investing in media training as part of your public relations campaign.  This will prepare you to be on camera and to learn how to field difficult questions from TV anchors, reporters, and journalists.
  • There’s a difference between reactive and proactive PR. Kristen specializes in reactive PR, which entails responding to reporters’ requests for sources, as opposed to proactive PR, which she says is going out to the media and spamming them with unsolicited pitches.
PR quotes kris ruby PR podcast

Listen to the Inbound Success podcast to learn more about public relations and how you can leverage it as part of your inbound marketing strategy.

In an exclusive 45-minute PR podcast interview, you will learn the answers to your most pressing questions about PR and inbound marketing including:

  • What is inbound public relations?
  • The difference between PR and media relations
  • How we built a client’s Domain Authority to 32 only using PR (and no paid advertising!)
  • Why media coverage success rates are significantly higher when you practice reactive PR
  • Why Twitter is critical for your public relations strategy
  • PR for brand building vs. PR for SEO
  • Why content marketing and Inbound marketing must work together for a successful Inbound PR strategy

PLUS 

  • What makes for a newsworthy story?

 

ABOUT THE PR PODCAST GUEST

Kris Ruby specializes in strategic Public Relations and Media Relations and has over 12 years of experience. To view a full list of Kris Ruby’s podcast appearances, click here. 

Podcast hosts: Do you have a podcast about PR? Are you looking for Public Relations Execs to share key insights? If you are interested in having Kris Ruby, CEO of Ruby Media Group, on your podcast to discuss all things PR, drop us a line.

P.S: We are passionate about educating people on how to leverage PR to increase media exposure. If you have a B2B or Healthcare marketing podcast and you are looking for a guest to educate your listeners about public relations, I am happy to share PR tips with your audience.

Plus, we always promote PR podcast appearances on social media if the information is valuable for our audience and people can learn key takeaways from the interview.

For interview and media requests, contact us here.

inbound pr podcast kris ruby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Ruby Media Group Founder Kristen Ruby breaks down the myths surrounding PR and inbound marketing. In this podcast episode, she goes into detail about who should consider using PR, when to use PR for your business, how much you should expect to pay for PR, and what kinds of results you should expect if you hire a PR firm.

In addition, Kristen covers the difference between PR for brand building and PR for SEO, as well as reactive vs. proactive PR.

There is a lot of practical information here for any marketer who has ever considered using PR as part of their strategy.

Highlights from my conversation with Kristen Ruby include:

  • A PR specialist is different than a media relations specialist. Kris specializes in strategic Public Relations and Media Relations.
  • PR can encompass anything in a communications plan and marketing plan, whereas media relations is specifically about interaction with the media.
  • PR is a good strategy for any business that is looking to build a long-term, sustainable funnel of leads, as well as to build their brand.
  • One of the big benefits of PR is that it can contribute to building your domain authority, which is great for SEO.
  • In terms of setting expectations for a PR engagement, Kristen says that the results you can get are very dependent upon the news cycle and what journalists are interested in covering.
  • Kristen says you should expect to commit to working with your PR firm at least one hour each day.
  • There’s a difference between reactive and proactive PR. Kristen specializes in reactive PR, which entails responding to reporters’ requests for sources, as opposed to proactive PR, which she states is going out to the media and spamming them with unsolicited pitches.
  • When it comes to PR, it’s important to build up online (and offline) authority so that the media sees you as a credible source.
  • For clients looking to get started with PR, Kristen recommends that they begin by publishing content that is aligned with what they are hoping to get coverage about. This can be published on their website, LinkedIn profile, etc.
  • The cost of a PR engagement can vary widely depending upon the scope of services and the type of media coverage that you’re looking for and then the size of the firm you want to work with.
  • If you plan to be on TV as part of your PR plan, Kris says it could be worth investing in media training as part of your PR package, as it will prepare you to be on camera.

Listen to the podcast to learn more about public relations and how you can use it as part of your inbound marketing strategy.

ENHANCED TRANSCRIPT WITH BONUS MATERIAL:

Kathleen Booth (Host): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. Today, my guest is Kristen Ruby who is the CEO of Ruby Media Group. Welcome Kristen.

Kristen Ruby (Guest): Hi, thank you so much for having me.

Kathleen: I’m so happy to have you here. You are in the field of PR and we don’t get to talk about PR a lot on the podcast so I’m really excited to dig into it with you, but before we do can you just tell my listeners a little bit more about yourself, and about your company, and what you do?

Kristen Ruby:  My company is Ruby Media Group. I have been a public relations consultant for over a decade now. I work with clients and businesses of all sizes from small to midsize companies to Fortune 500 companies. I also do PR campaigns for medical practices and doctors.

I help companies with brand building, content creation, social media, public relations, and more.  My mission is to help people get found online through integrated digital PR strategies. I am great at taking people’s offline thought-leadership and translating that online into digital platforms.

INBOUND PR: PUBLIC RELATIONS AND INBOUND MARKETING

Kathleen:  This podcast is all about inbound marketing and people have mixed opinions about where public relations fits within that mix as an inbound marketer. I think there’s also a lot of misconceptions about what public relations is, especially today as the field has evolved over time.

You had some really interesting viewpoints on that and I wanted to start by having you explain what you see as what PR is, and the different uses of it, because there’s PR for SEO, and then there are other types of PR.

PUBLIC RELATIONS VS. MEDIA RELATIONS

What is the difference between PR and Media Relations?

Kristen Ruby: There is a difference between PR and media relations, so I want to also explain that first to your listeners.

PR can encompass anything in your communications and marketing plan, whereas media relations is specifically about interactions with the media.

I do a lot of media relations work, whereas some public relations practitioners focus on community outreach, partnership outreach, or sponsorship activations.  These areas fall under a larger umbrella of PR and communications. So, PR can encompass many different areas of outreach, whereas media relations specifically focuses on communications with the media.

What does a publicist do?

A publicist will help you navigate through your interactions with the media and will get your brand message and story out there to the public. A publicist will also handle media inquiries and manage interview requests and talking point coordination on behalf of your company.

HIRING A PR FIRM: WHEN SHOULD YOU INVEST IN PR FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

How to measure the value of PR.

Kathleen:  What do you see as the value of PR for the companies that invest in public relations? Who is it right for? When should you engage a PR firm for PR services?

Is PR worth it?

Kristen Ruby:  With PR, it depends on what stage you’re at in your business. For example, let’s say you’re a medical practice and a doctor, and you’ve been around for ten years, you already have a waiting list of patients, but at this point, you have other strategic business goals.

Maybe you want to become a paid speaker. Maybe you want to write a book and you want a publisher, and you need a social media following for that.  Or maybe you’re at a different level in your medical career where now you want to focus on putting out educational content to reach the masses because your time is limited, and you can only see a certain number of patients a day.

For that type of medical practitioner, I think PR is ideal because it fits in the brand building bucket.

If you’re someone that is saying, “I need more patients in the door tomorrow, and I’ve just launched a practice,” I would say traditional marketing would make sense for that, including direct marketing and digital advertising.

When is the best time to hire a PR agency?

Kristen Ruby: You have to evaluate, “Are you looking for sales and leads tomorrow out of this, or can you have a longer sales funnel with what you’re doing?”

Kathleen: Yeah, that’s a good point. I often hear about PR a lot from startups, especially B2B technology startups. There seems to be this assumption that in the beginning, PR is something that you should invest in almost before marketing. I think part of it is this desire as a startup to plant your flag in the ground in the marketplace and get your name out there.

But then, the other part of it is also, from my perspective as a marketer, about building domain authority. That goes back to PR for SEO, so I wonder if you could talk about that.

PR FOR BRAND BUILDING VS. PR FOR SEO

Kristen Ruby: I have a great case study of PR for SEO. We worked with a health care client and we launched their personal branding campaign from scratch with a new website and an in-depth strategic deck.  We had not done any direct marketing, and we’ve only done PR for them.

Their Domain Authority ranking now is 32 and that’s all from public relations. So, all of that authority and they have not done any paid advertising. It’s all backlinks from PR articles that I’ve gotten them.

Now, again, that was never even a primary goal of why we did PR for this brand, but I think one of the amazing things about that campaign is that it can happen when you’re not even trying for it.

With traditional public relations practitioners, there’s often a disconnect with SEO and PR because they’re so focused on getting the press coverage, and working with producers and journalists that they don’t realize they are building someone’s backlink profile and Domain Authority while they are executing a PR campaign.

Of course, you can never guarantee any press placements, and we could talk about that as well, but if you get backlinks it can be great, especially if you are securing press coverage for a client in a third-party national media outlet, and that outlet has very high Domain Authority, you’re benefiting from that.

Kathleen:  It is tremendous potential if you have a well-known media entity. Those backlinks can be worth a lot.

Kristen Ruby: Yes.

PR FIRM EXPECTATION SETTING

What should you expect from a PR firm?

Kathleen: I want to talk about expectation setting when you work with a PR firm because that can seem very alluring, and I’m sure you have clients who come to you and say, “Get me mentioned in The Wall Street Journal, or on TV, etc.,” so can you talk me through when you first start working with a new PR client how do you determine what’s possible and how do you set expectations around that?

What should I look for when hiring a PR firm?

Kristen Ruby:  The first thing that we ask a prospect who is interested in hiring Ruby Media Group for public relations services is, “What does PR success look like to you? How are you going to evaluate the PR engagement and what do those metrics and KPI’s look like?”

For example, if they say, “We want to be on The Today Show within a month.” Obviously, that’s going to be an unrealistic expectation. If they say, “We’re looking for around three or four press placements and digital mentions a month.” That’s a realistic expectation with my PR firm. I’m not sure if it is with every firm, but for us, I know that I can deliver that.

If they say, “I want you to guarantee a set amount of media bookings whether that’s on radio, or television, or any outlet.” That’s something that’s not realistic because no PR firm that’s worth their salt is going to be able to give those media guarantees.

The reason for that is because we are working with the media. The media dictates what they want to use and what they don’t want to use. Our main deliverable is very much dependent on a third-party variable at any given time: the media.

What should a PR firm do for you?

Kristen Ruby: The problem is that people hire publicists and think that the publicist has much more power than they do. I don’t know if that’s because public relations practitioners misrepresent what they can do to try and close a deal, but it’s just not realistic. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about public relations.

For example, if you look at any given week in the news cycle there’s a lot of political news happening, such as the Trump impeachment hearing. What if you had a PR client that’s booked on TV this week? That segment will most likely be canceled because of the news cycle.

Kathleen: And if it wasn’t canceled no one would probably pay attention anyway because everyone’s attention is diverted somewhere else I would think.

How does a PR firm work?

Kristen: This is why it’s so important if you’re hiring a PR firm to understand this.  The news cycle and breaking news dictate what’s being covered. It’s not your client that dictates it.

So, if you can come up with some great tie-in to the news, or if your client’s a political expert and they can comment on what’s happening, it adds value to the breaking news peg.

That lends itself back to your original question, which is how to determine if someone’s going to be a good PR client.

In this heavy political news climate, a lot of PR practitioners will gravitate towards prospective clients that can comment on those areas because they know that they can get them booked on TV for media interviews.

We go through an internal checklist about who’s going to be a good fit. It has to do with expectations. Are they realistic?

The next question is: do you have at least one hour daily to work with your PR firm if you hire an agency? People make the mistake of hiring a PR firm and then they don’t give them what they need to do their job effectively. You have to supply content to your PR firm so that they can get you out there. That content is the backbone of what they are pitching to reporters.

You have to let your PR firm know if something’s going on that you can comment on, tell them. If there is a link to a news story that you think is interesting, share it with them and explain why. But this notion that you’re going to hire a PR firm, and then you’re not going to talk to them, and they can get you press coverage is very unrealistic.

PR TIPS

What makes a story newsworthy?

Kathleen: Now, someone comes to you, and their expectations are realistic in the sense that they say, “Hey, I would love to get four press mentions this month.”

I’m assuming that there’s some kind of content that’s needed, like you can’t just call up a reporter and say, “Hey cover this company,” full stop, period. There needs to be some kind of a story. So how do you work with clients to determine what that story is and cultivate something that’s newsworthy?

PROACTIVE PR VS. REACTIVE PR

Kristen:  There are two different types of PR. There’s proactive PR and reactive PR. I’m a specialist in reactive PR. Reactive PR is when you’re using different databases, whether it’s HARO, ProfNet or Cision, to reply to reporters queries in real-time.

There are a lot of new platforms coming out where those journalists are saying, “We’re writing this story, do you have an expert to speak on X?” That’s when I plug my clients in to be able to comment on those stories.

Proactive PR is a traditional old-school approach where you’re going out to journalists and spamming them and saying, “I have this great idea, why don’t you cover it?”

But the problem with that approach is that they may or may not be writing about that topic. So, I think the success rates are significantly higher when you practice reactive PR, because you’re giving the media what they want, when they’re already working on that topic and it makes their life easier.

Kathleen: So you really, in that case then, don’t have to necessarily have a breaking news item or a piece of content. It’s really just authority and expertise that you’re pitching?

Kristen: It’s authority and expertise, but it’s also answering a lot of media questions, and usually those questions tie into a breaking news story. If a reporter is working on a vaping story. You could have authority and expertise, but you also need to have expertise in that news area that’s happening with vaping in the country right now. It’s a combination of all of those factors together. But to answer your other question about packaging, I have a motto.

HOW TO BUILD YOUR PERSONAL BRAND

My PR motto is “Package, pitch, promote.” Phase one when I work with a new PR client is, “how can we package this story?” Who are they? What does their brand look like? The first thing I’ll do is do a deep dive on Google. I want to look at their website. Do they have a press-friendly web site for the media? If not, that needs to go up before we even work with them because journalists are going to look for that.

Next, what has been written about them online? Do they have a critical mass of authority online? If they don’t, that needs to be created. Third, who are they? What do they want to be known for?

What is their area of expertise? If there is going to be a lower third for their title tag on television, what would it say? Expert in what? So, we need to figure all that out. Finally, do they have a high-res headshot for the media and do they have an executive bio?

All of that has to be done in the first two months of us working with a PR firm. Even though it sounds simple, most people don’t have all of that ready to go. So, we get that lined up for someone before we start with them, and then next we start putting together an FAQ document in Microsoft Word.

I recently created a helpful media 101 pitching checklist that I can share as well as a media guide too which may be helpful for your listeners.

DIGITAL PR: HOW TO BUILD ONLINE AUTHORITY

Why digital PR is your secret weapon for increasing E-A-T on Google 

Kathleen: Now, I think it was the second thing you mentioned there was they need to have is that after the website, they need to have some sort of critical mass of online authority established. What does that mean? What are you looking for there?

Kristen: I’m looking to see that other reporters and journalists have quoted them. I think that lends itself very nicely to the new Google Quality Rater Guidelines. I wrote an article on what Google is looking for regarding digital authority and E-A-T. It’s very important. It’s all about having authority online.

That’s where PR can help. If you’re trying to increase your E-A-T on Google, you need digital authority. It’s not just about you saying that you’re great. When they look online, they need to see that other people are saying you are great and that you are an expert in what you’re saying you are an expert in.

This is a very interesting time, and this is sort of changing the game in general for PR. You can’t just pivot. You can’t just say that you’re an expert in everything anymore.

You have to become an expert in one thing and it doesn’t matter how many times you say it. This is going to be a major game-changer for PR.

Launching a PR campaign: How to get started with PR for your business

Kathleen: So, if somebody comes to you and they don’t have a lot of mentions online, can you work with them? Can you get them press coverage? How do you start with PR and brand building? What’s that first step?

Kristen: The first step is that we do a brand audit and build that out for a longer period of time before we ever pitch anything to the media.  It all starts with content marketing and strategic management consulting.

If you want to show your expertise, you have to put out consistent content that aligns with that expertise.

The best place to start if you don’t have other people mentioning you is to your web site or LinkedIn where you can show what they know. You can also publish an e-book, or any sort of other inbound marketing campaign, which is important. Having people link back to that content to start building authority is critical even if you have no other outside media coverage to start with.

Why inbound marketing is necessary for PR

Kathleen: That’s helpful because when you think about how inbound marketing and PR go together, I’ve talked to lots of companies that think you start with PR, then you do inbound marketing and then maybe you do PR again.

But if what I’m hearing what you’re saying is correct, it sounds like it does make sense to begin with some inbound marking first so that you have that content already created. You have potentially gotten mentioned, you’re starting to establish some authority. Is that accurate?

Kristen: Yes. You can’t say that you’re an expert and have no content to back that up and expect journalists to write about you.  At that point, you’re just a self-proclaimed expert. If a PR consultant is going to pitch you to the media and that journalist looks you up, and they don’t even see content written by you, how are you an expert? It doesn’t make any sense.

I think that’s a major mistake that a lot of executives make. There are some PR practitioners who skip the content marketing part and that’s not practicing the new method of digital PR. Content marketing and inbound marketing must work in unity with your public relations firm. It should not be separate.

PR PRICING: HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO HIRE A PR FIRM?

Kathleen: One of the questions I’m sure that anybody has if they haven’t worked with a PR firm before is, this sounds great but what does it cost? I’m not asking what do you charge, but can you give me a sense of if somebody’s considering doing PR and they’re going to work with a consultant outside of their company to do it, what sort of budget should they have to get started with a PR firm?

What does PR cost? 

Kristen:  The cost of hiring a PR firm depends on so many factors.  A startup, entrepreneur, book author or small business is not going to spend 100k monthly on PR services. So, it is important to understand that many of the numbers you see floating around online for PR services widely differ depending on the vertical, industry and media coverage goals.

Public relations consultants and freelancers will be able to offer more competitive pricing because you aren’t paying for their overhead. If you want to work with a large size PR agency, you will pay for the brand name and may not be working with the senior-level strategists unless you are willing to pay a premium for it.

How much does public relations cost?

Before you can answer, “how much does PR cost?” ask the following:

  • Is your brand ready for PR?
  • What is the budget you have allocated for PR services?
  • Do you want to work with a smaller firm or do you like the appeal saying you work with a large agency?

The scope of services, the type of media coverage that you’re looking for and the size of the PR firm will dictate the answer to the cost of PR services.

Typically, I would say a reasonable range that PR services start at could be anywhere from $5,000 a month and then up from there. For some of the larger NY PR firms, they could be charging $35,000 or $40,000 a month. It depends on the size of the public relations firm and the other ancillary services that the public relations firm is offering.

How much do PR packages cost?

Let’s say the cost of PR services you signed up for is $10,000 per month. It is important to keep in mind that there are outside costs as well that may not be covered in your monthly retainer. This is where understanding a la carte PR pricing is important, plus the outside costs section of the contract you sign with a PR firm.

For example, do you need media training? That’s going to be a separate cost. If you need an electronic press kit (EPK) created for your business, that’s also going to be an outside cost. If you need a personal branding website, that’s going to be another cost.

If you need photography and new headshots, another cost. So, a lot of times those costs are not built into the ongoing retainer for a PR campaign.

Managing scope creep is also very important in PR to understand what the role of a publicist is and what areas are considered a separate wheelhouse.

Can I afford a public relations campaign?

$6,000 monthly may seem like a lot to a small business for PR services, but this fee pales in comparison to the cost of a full-time in-house communications director or chief marketing officer. The question isn’t, can I afford to hire a public relations campaign for my business?

The real question is: can I afford NOT to hire a public relations director for my business?

Interested in PR? Contact us today to learn more about our Public relations packages.

MEDIA TRAINING

What is media training?

Kathleen: Let’s talk about media training for a minute because this actually came up in a conversation that I recently had. Can you explain what happens in a media training session and what are you being trained on?

Kristen: Media training prepares you for live on-camera television interviews in a breaking news environment. How can you answer tough questions from news anchors? How can you learn to not say things like ‘um’ while you’re doing interviews? When I conduct media training with corporate executives, I will record them and we’ll go playback what they sound like. If they do a TV segment, we will rigorously critique that segment, and say, “This is great, but here are all the things you need to do to improve.”

For example, can they maintain eye contact? That’s what we look for or are they looking all over the place? Are they using a lot of transition words? Can they cut back on that? Are they using modifiers like “in my opinion” that can be cut and that do not add value to the interview? Are they talking for way too long? Have they been trained in how to speak in sound bites for media interviews? All of those areas are critical components of media training.

Kathleen: It’s so funny because listening to you describe it, it makes me think of podcasting because I’ve been doing this now… I’m on episode 110, and when I podcast, I always send my audio off to be transcribed and then I have to edit the transcription for the show notes. Reading the written version of what I say is the most horrifying thing in the world.

I have discovered that I start just about every sentence with yeah. My guest says something and I’m like, “Yeah, let’s talk about that,” or, “Yeah, and I have a question.” It’s just so funny and I imagine it’s the same thing with media training when you playback a recording. All of a sudden you’re like, “Wait, I say that, that much? I had no idea.”

Kristen: Yes, exactly. That’s why it can be scary and also why it is so important. For example, in addition to running a PR firm, I’m also a television commentator. I’ve personally been on TV more than a hundred times on Fox News or other outlets, and even if it’s segment 101, I’m still rigorously assessing what I sound like because if I’m not doing that I’m not learning and I’m not getting better. I think that people don’t realize that people that are on-air all the time are doing this very same thing. It’s not just something that you start when you hire a PR firm. You have to keep doing it.

How do I prepare for a media interview? How to handle the tough questions.

Kathleen: How do you advise people to handle it when they don’t want to answer a question from a reporter? Is it, “I don’t comment on that?” Is there a certain way to gracefully avoid answering the question?

Media Training Tips and Techniques

Kristen: There are two media techniques we use for conducting media training that can be helpful with that question. One, I’d call bridging. So, if you don’t necessarily want to answer something or if you’re not sure how, I would bridge it and transition it into something else. You can say, “This is a really interesting question; however, I think this is the larger question.” So that would be bridging. That’s one option.

The second approach is to always be honest. If someone asks you a question and you are not qualified to speak on it, just tell someone that. Say, “That’s a really interesting question, however, I’m not sure I’m the best one to answer this, but if I had to take a stab, here’s what I would say.” You can say something like that as a modifier or you can say, “I’ll get back to you on that one.” You could do what Mark Zuckerberg did at the congressional hearing, where every single question he said, “I’ll have my team get back to you on that.” That’s a perfect way of answering (or dodging) the question.

How does PR work? Which PR opportunities are worth responding to?

Kathleen:  Circling back to PR for SEO and in tandem for inbound marketing backlinks. When you’re pitching and you mentioned that you do reactive PR, how do you screen through which PR opportunities are worth responding to and which ones are not?

Kristen:  The first thing I do is look at the media outlet. Is it a well-known media outlet, or is it a random blog? The back-linking part I don’t look at until the very end when a story is live because you don’t know if they’re going to include a link or not. For me, if I’m going to send something to a client, I’m looking at it to think, is this an anonymous query? If it is, we’re not replying. Is it a large national media outlet that we’ve heard of, which would be great to get a mention in regardless of the backlink? Then yes, I’ll send it to them. Is it worth their time to answer this?

How many questions are on there that they want answered, and do I realistically think the client can answer it by the deadline? All of those things factor into whether or not I think that they should look at that. Again, I look at backlinks as an added bonus of doing PR, but if people come to me and say, “You need to guarantee backlinks,” I tell them, “There’s no way any public relations professional can guarantee backlinks.  Reporters don’t even know if a link is included.”

So, there’s a lot of scams out there right now where people will send you this nice long sheet and go, “Oh for X thousand dollars, for this one-off I’ll get you quoted for this mention.” Well, Google’s changing the game right now, rather, with how all of that’s handled and if you look at the quality rater’s guidelines, they also clearly mention that they can tell and that they’re very aware of those links and that they don’t count for much.

That’s a waste of time and a waste of money. Spend your time and resources doing PR the right way, and if you get links out of it then that’s an added bonus.

Kathleen: You mentioned anonymous queries, and this is something that I’ve always wondered about. I look at HARO all the time and as you said, some of the calls for sources say, “I’m with this particular news outlet,” and then others are anonymous. I’ve always wondered about that because sometimes I think, “Oh, well if they’re anonymous they’re some podunk place.” But then other times I think, “If they’re anonymous maybe they’re someplace big, but they don’t want to let people know that.” I don’t know. What has your experience been with anonymous queries on Haro?

Kristen: It’s a gamble. It’s 50-50. It can go either way. So sometimes it could be a major media outlet, but they have an internal editorial policy, which may state they don’t want someone else scooping up the story or that the reporters can’t use HARO. So that reporter may put it in as anonymous. So technically they’re not using HARO. That’s one option. Another thing is that it really is a much smaller site and they know that no one is going to answer their query if they say, “This is for my hole in the wall blog that no one has ever heard of.” So, it can go either way.

HOW TO FIND PR OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUR BUSINESS

How to identify PR opportunities with free tools

Kathleen: For somebody who’s listening and thinking, “I’m not ready to hire a PR firm yet, but I might want to dabble in trying this out for myself.” There’s HARO (Help A Reporter Out), which is a free source that you can read and respond to. Are there any other helpful places that somebody can visit to see what kinds of stories reporters are working on and potentially respond?

HOW TO GET MORE PR: FREE PR IDEAS

Kristen: The best thing that they can do is to read the news. I know that sounds so simple. Yet, so many people don’t do it. Everyone is looking for this cheap quick fix on how they can do something, which is why I’m not really a fan of do-it-yourself PR for a number of reasons, but the main one is that Do-it-yourself PR can actually be quite dangerous. I’ve seen people make major mistakes because they’re not media trained.

They say all sorts of things. They don’t really know what on the record versus off the record even means, and then they want someone else to fix it. And they can’t. Because they read some advice somewhere and told them to try it and then it hurt them, and then their CEO is not happy. You have to be careful.

However, if you’re interested in figuring out, “What is the media really writing about?” So maybe you’re a digital marketer and you want to get quoted in the news. Go into Google and then click news. Then put in digital marketing. That’s the first step I would take.

HOW TO GENERATE PR FOR YOUR BUSINESS

If you don’t want to hire a PR firm, I would set up Google Alerts for the key industry terms and for your name. I would use a site like Mention because a lot of times Google Alerts doesn’t pick up everything it needs to. Then I would start seeing… For example, let’s say I comment on Instagram. I have Google Alerts set up for Instagram.

Or for Trump’s tweets or anything relevant to what I talked about, and then I get… that just becomes part of my day. So maybe you’re a cardiologist and you’re speaking on artificial intelligence and cardiology. I’d set up a Google alert for “AI Cardiology.” That’s more of an inbound approach to PR really because it all comes to you.

Then you start formulating an opinion on that. I would then take that opinion, write content around it, put it on your own site, and then I think what you’re going to start to see is that if its good content and you optimize that content, you can be found for that content by a member of the media.

I will say this, people always say, “How did you get started in television?” I got started in television because of content. I wrote a really cool article on how social media was impacting the world of dating and it was for Jdate.com, and this was like 10 years ago.

I tweeted that article. I did not have a PR firm at that time and I was still more so in social media. A TV producer found my article on Twitter. They found the content, they liked the content, and they said, “This would make for an interesting segment, would you like to come on the show?” That’s literally how I got started in my career in TV—all because of content.

I would urge your listeners to consider that strategy when you’re thinking about how to get there. That’s a do-it-yourself PR approach, but it’s not dangerous because you’re not necessarily reaching out to the media directly. It’s a content-first approach.

Why Twitter is key for your PR strategy

Kathleen: Now do you find that there are certain channels where you can publish your content that make it more likely that you will be found by a reporter?

Kristen: Twitter and LinkedIn. Journalists are the biggest users of Twitter by far. We have clients that say to us, “I don’t want to be on Twitter,” and I say, “You don’t have a choice. You have to be on Twitter because if I’m getting you hits, I need to tweet those hits because reporters want traffic to their articles.” This old school notion that PR is just take, take, take and not give is so antiquated. You can’t expect that someone’s going to write about you and then you’re not going to help push traffic to those articles. Which is why whether it’s a podcast, or it’s a reporter at a different outlet, they want to see that you’re pushing it out too. Social media is an integral part to that process.

Kathleen: Twitter is so incredibly misunderstood. I find that with every client I’ve ever worked with… I was in the agency world for 13 years and almost everyone, including the heads of many agencies would say, “Twitter is a waste of time.  I don’t want to be on Twitter.” It always blew my mind because not only is that where all the reporters are, but it’s the only platform where you can directly reach out to anybody regardless of where you’re connected with them. So, the access on Twitter is unbelievable.

Kristen: If you want to get on the radar of journalists, they are on Twitter. The other thing you can do is create a favorite list and look up some reporters and then add them to a favorite list and start to favorite them for what they’re doing, or replying to them and get on their radar in that way. It’s a great way to use Twitter and strategically hashtag. If you really want to learn how to use PR, go on Twitter and type in #PRfail.

They will actually blast different publicists or do-it-yourself PR practitioners, and you can learn from that. It’s just amazing. They’ll post bad pictures on there. I think there used to be a blog called Bad Pitch Blog. I don’t know if it’s still around, but you learn how to do PR the right way by looking at it the wrong way.

Kathleen: Yeah. See I still say yeah. Even though I try to get myself not to. Now I’ve also heard that YouTube is valuable. Especially for getting picked up for television because that allows people to see your on-camera persona. Have you found that?

Kristen: I think that definitely makes sense more so in the entertainment field. It adds credibility and anytime you do a TV segment you should post it to your YouTube channel. Do I think that I would have gotten discovered from YouTube if I was just doing something on my own? I don’t necessarily think so, no. But entertainment, yes. If you’re a singer, sure! That’s just a whole other area of PR.

LinkedIn for PR: how do I promote my business on LinkedIn?

Kathleen: Interesting. You mentioned LinkedIn. How do you see LinkedIn playing into developing a PR strategy?

How to use LinkedIn for your PR campaign

Kristen Ruby: Publishing articles on LinkedIn is valuable to your PR strategy and using hashtags on LinkedIn can also be very helpful to getting your content found by a larger audience. LinkedIn is at this amazing point right now where they are really almost giving away views in organic traffic, more so than Facebook is at because they want to become more of a social network. So, there’s this massive opportunity, especially with video on LinkedIn right now, if you want people to find what you’re doing. From what we’ve learned with PR clients, video performs the best.

You could put the same video on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and you’re going to see the organic view count is significantly higher on LinkedIn.

Kathleen: Absolutely. I have been testing out LinkedIn video now for several months, and I did a LinkedIn video recently about it because I looked back at all of my posts and the posts that had video in them, almost in every single case got 10x the number of comments and views as a post without video. It was so starkly obvious what a difference it made. I completely agree with you on that.

Kristen Ruby: They want to incentivize users to be doing more videos. So that’s why you can see it. If you look at the analytics, you’ll see that that’s what they’re trying to do.

Kathleen: And it won’t last forever, I’m sure but right now it’s a great opportunity. I want to talk about results. Obviously, you can’t divulge client names, but can you just, in an anonymized sense, give me a sense of what kind of results companies that you’ve worked with have seen from PR?

Kristen Ruby: Sure. For example, one client that we worked with has received over 35,000 visitors in organic search traffic alone over the past year. Again, we’re not doing any paid marketing or any paid advertising. That’s just because of content marketing and PR. That’s all inbound PR referral traffic. Another company is actually ranking in search engine results on page one for specific questions in the snippets, which everyone is trying to rank for right now. This is from content that we created for them years ago that’s ranking in the Snippets now.

That content hasn’t even been historically optimized yet, and it’s still ranking. Why? Because we answered questions. That has to do with our approach that we started on Facebook where we grew that audience from zero to over five thousand engaged fans and used their business fan page as a community and group page. Because of that and because we took the time to answer their questions with an ‘ask the expert’ format, that skyrocketed their search engine results.

That’s something people should be doing. Answering questions is so underrated. People spend so much time on SEO but don’t actually answer questions. If you want to appear in snippets you have to do that. I would also say podcasting has been, for that client, a big part of their PR growth strategy, in terms of being a frequent podcast guest on relevant health shows.

They’ve probably recorded over 900 minutes of time on podcasts and I can see the analytics and conversion rates. I see people’s comments when they say, “I heard you on this podcast. I’m interested in coming to you now.” I see on their social media page where they say, “I read about you in this article.” Well, I know what those articles were because I placed them. So that’s PR. Or, “I read about you. Are you taking on new clients or new patients?”

I can track it from the PR hit to them then going to the social media pages to saying, “Are you taking on new patients?” Or direct messaging that, and then to a new lead going through the contact form, and becoming a patient or a client. So, I would say, again, that’s not any sort of… that’s happened across the board for several clients as a result of our PR work.

Kathleen: It is interesting how it snowballs too, right? You get your name out there and that is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy because you’re building that Domain Authority, which helps you get found more. As you said, the content that you create that lives in the snippets can live forever.

PR IS AN INVESTMENT 

How do you quantify the ROI of PR?

Kathleen: So, it is sort of an investment as opposed to, you think about paid advertising and it’s like a drug. You can’t ever stop. But this is more like an investment.

Kristen Ruby:  Media snowballs into other media. That’s what people have to understand, and I think people that have a short-term approach to PR, then they shouldn’t hire a PR firm. If you’re going to hire a PR firm and you’re thinking, “You know what, I need you to do X, Y, Z by this date, and I need it now to do X.” It’s just not going to happen, and even if it doesn’t happen, it’s the wrong approach because you’re not building a community.

You’re not building anything that has intrinsic value to others. So, you just getting hits is good for you, but how is that good for others. So the clients that I’ve had great success with are… The one thing that they all have in common is they are other-centric, they’re not me-centric. So when you’re other-centric it allows us to do the best job we can for them because they’re building out something larger than themselves and all of it is around education. I always say, “Ego-driven PR is not a sustainable PR strategy.”

It’s important for people to understand that. The PR strategies that we deploy are education-focused, and I think clients get the best results, and again, even if it’s education-focused, that sounds very similar to inbound marketing.

Kathleen: I was just going to say, that’s basically the premise of inbound marketing. It’s a give before you get kind of mentality.

Kristen Ruby: Exactly. What’s so funny is that these people that work with me and hire me, they just really wanted to get great educational content out there into the world and build up their brand. When they’re working with me they’re not necessarily saying, “I need more clients or patients or people in the door,” because they’ve achieved a certain level of success and they want to do other things. The most amazing thing that happens is all of this happens as a result of it. But it’s not because they were even trying to achieve that goal. It’s because they put their users and their audience first, in terms of just giving, and giving, and giving great advice and content.

Kathleen: Right, well that’s so interesting and thank you for explaining all of that. When it comes to inbound marketing, is there a particular company or individual that you think is really killing it and doing it well?

Kristen Ruby: It’s hard for me to say that any one person is doing inbound marketing well because the way I look at this is I look at different attributes of how someone is doing something well. So, I can’t necessarily point to one person.

I can give you all the answers that I think everyone else points to all the time. I could say Gary V, and Gary’s great, right? Of course, Gary Vaynerchuk is doing it. I’m sure every single guest in your show says that, so I want to give you a more unique answer.

Doctors that are taking the time to answer patient’s questions are doing it well. Again, I don’t want to name any specific ones, but I think that in general if you take the approach where you look at the most frequently asked questions that you’re asked all the time and you write them down, and you write content around it, I think it helps you and it helps your patients and it helps your clients.  Anyone that’s doing that gets a gold star in my book.

Kathleen: I’ve always really admired Mayo Clinic for that. They are like the Wikipedia of medicine. It almost doesn’t matter what you Google, they pop up with an educational article on that thing. Causes, symptoms, treatments, etc. Though we cannot name specific doctors, I would say the Mayo Clinic, in general, is an institution has really done a great job and committed heavily to inbound marketing.

Kristen Ruby: I think if people wanted… just a tip for inbound PR is to use the notepad in your phone, and when people ask you questions or if a prospect emails you a question, save that question. That can be a foundation of your content marketing strategy. People spend so much time trying to figure out, what do I write about? Well, just write about what you’re already answering!

Kathleen: Yes. It’s staring all of us in the face, right?

Kristen: Exactly. Also, when you write that, write about how people are… The language that they are using to type into Google when they ask you those questions. But I think something that most people are not doing today is that they’re just missing the boat on optimizing their content for questions. I think that’s something that… The term is called historical optimization, which I think is critical of any PR SEO campaign right now where everyone has to do it.

Refresh older content that you’ve written with historical optimization and use PR to amplify the content. So, if you’ve written a great blog post and maybe you’ve done a podcast, you should include that podcast link into whatever relevant content that you’ve already written around that. So, you’re constantly just adding value to your audience.

Kathleen: Yes. It’s so funny because I 100% agree with everything you just said, and it’s so interesting to me that somebody from the PR world who so intuitively gets what it is to do inbound marketing correctly because that’s really what it is all about.

Kristen Ruby:  I don’t understand how people can practice PR today and not have an understanding of inbound marketing because if you don’t, you’re not helping your clients at maximum capacity. Those clients are setting their money on fire. You cannot be doing all of these marketing/ PR activities and have SEO in a different area and content marketing and inbound marketing in a different area. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t help your business if everything is disjointed.

So, when you’re interviewing a PR firm, you need to make sure that they understand this because what I see is, you could hire a firm and they could get you all these hits, but if you do nothing with the hits then it’s a waste. It’s not just about getting press coverage. It’s about what you do with the press coverage afterward that truly matters.

If you record a podcast and no one hears the podcast, was there any point in doing the podcast? No, there was not. You have to market the press coverage that you get.

Kathleen: Yes. Totally agree. Second question because you are a PR person who clearly understands marketing. The world of digital marketing is changing so quickly. You talked about Google updating its quality rater guidelines. How do you personally stay up to date and current on all of these things?

Kristen Ruby:  I read a lot of different search engine marketing blogs. One is Search Engine Land. I get so many of these different newsletters.

I go to Google News and I look for the terms. I will click Google, I will click news, and then I’ll put in SEO or I’ll put in Google or I’ll put in rankings. I mean, that’s my own approach because I want to see things that are happening by the hour and not everyone is necessarily searching that way. For me, I think it’s important.

The reason I developed that habit is from doing news segments as a national television commentator on social media and tech trends. I could literally be booked to talk about something and then two hours later that story has changed.

It’s one thing to sign up for newsletters, but it’s another when you’re in a breaking news environment and the story has changed.

Kathleen: That’s a really good point for anybody who’s preparing to be interviewed to just do a quick Google news search right before your interview to make sure that nothing has changed.

Kristen Ruby: Yes. Because a lot of the time everything changes. And then you could be watching a teaser and they go, “Coming up, so and so is talking about this.” And you don’t want to be caught off guard by saying, “Who is so and so”?” and they go, “That’s you, and you’re live in two seconds.”  You want to avoid that from happening, which again, goes back to the importance of media training and being prepared. I’d also say don’t check your email right before you go on air because that can really throw you off your game. A very important media training tip!

Kathleen: That’s a great piece of advice. Well, so many good nuggets here Kristen. I really appreciate you sharing this with all of us.

public relations strategy

 


10 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Chance Of Media Coverage

PR pitching mistakes

How to Get Media Coverage For Your Business

As a seasoned Public Relations specialist for over a decade, I have seen Executives sabotage themselves when they try to pitch the media. They routinely make the same mistakes that hurt their media relations efforts and can kill a story from ever seeing the light of day. But luckily for you, you can learn from their mistakes and from my industry insider PR knowledge to get more traction for your PR campaign.

Why is media coverage important?

Anyone can buy media coverage, but not anyone can earn media coverage. Media coverage is important because it builds trust with third party media outlet names that your consumers, clients, and patients know and trust.  Consumers know the difference between paid media and earned media. They can tell when you have purchased ad space vs. when a media outlet organically mentions you as a trusted expert. When you do a quick Google search, are you more likely to trust the paid ads or the organic brand mentions? Media coverage will propel your business and medical practice forward. Earned media is infinitely more effective than paid media in building trust with key constituencies.

Securing press coverage for your business is a continual process.  Pitching the media can take months before a journalist is interested in picking up your story or writing about your business.

DIY public relations guides teach business owners how to get their pitch picked up.

But that is only half of the equation!

Business owners are often caught off guard when the media replies to a pitch they sent out and is finally interested in writing about them.

If you don’t have the proper assets to give to the media when they are ready to interview you, you may be sabotaging your golden opportunity for earned media coverage.

In this article, you will learn:

  • How to prepare for media interviews
  • How to pitch the media & press
  • 10 pitching mistakes to avoid

If you want to get media coverage for your business, you must take the time to create the foundations of your brand prior to pitching the media. The truth is, if you pitch the media without having these assets, you are just wasting your time. Even if a reporter loves your story, if you don’t have high-resolution photos or video clips of you previously on air, your pitching success will never make it beyond 50%. This article is about taking you to the PR finish line. You learn how to do PR the right way by understanding how to do it the wrong way. If you are serious about generating media coverage for your business or medical practice, avoid these PR mistakes and invest in the proper resources to propel your brand forward.

10 PR & Media Pitching Mistakes 

Avoid these PR mistakes.

1. Not having high-resolution photos: It perplexes me how many entrepreneurs pitch the media and do not have a simple high-resolution photo or headshot. This is an absolute must if you are pitching a personal branding angle to a journalist or if you are trying to secure a column in a trade publication as a contributor. If you don’t have a high-res photo, you can delay the entire process. You also need to have branded lifestyle photography for feature articles or human interest stories. If you are pitching an entrepreneurial angle, an editor will want to see you in action, meeting with clients or doing what you say you do best. Newsrooms are severely understaffed, so don’t expect a reporter to send a photographer to your office for a photoshoot.

2. Wearing clothing that clashes on camera:  If a producer wants to book you for a national television segment, they will want you in the studio within a few hours. Finding television friendly attire that looks good on camera can be time-consuming. Start looking for outfits well before you are ever booked for a TV segment. For men, this can be as simple as a nice suit. For women, bright-colored dresses with short sleeves or three-quarter sleeves work well. To avoid any on-camera surprises, make sure you have tried on the dress sitting down to see how long it will appear on screen.

3. Using an outdated executive bio: Do you have a recently updated executive bio that can accompany all of your outbound pitches to the media? If not, start working on this now. You should have a few different variations of your bio: one for trade publications, one for consumer pitching and a different version for bylines.

4. Missing contact information:  This sounds simple, yet so many people skip this obvious step. They pitch the media and do not include an email address or a cell phone number to reach them on their website. Journalists don’t want to spend time submitting lengthy contact forms to reach you. Make your contact information visible in the footer of your site to increase your chances of visibility. If you are going to provide a phone number, make sure it is a direct line, and not a spammy 1-800 number.

5. Missing media collateral:  If you are pitching a human interest story to the media, journalists will want to see some basic information. This makes their lives significantly easier so they can review these pertinent details working on the story. It may also spark new story angles they may not have thought of.  Include FAQs about the “why” of your business. Try to answer all of the questions you think they may have so they can pull in relevant details from the Q&A or fact sheet. Always send this in Microsoft Word and avoid sending a PDF.

6. Including photos without image names:  Journalists work on several different stories at a time and speak with different sources. If a journalist requests photos, make sure each photo has a file name instead of the regular “DSC2019.” Naming the image file will also give you an added SEO boost if they decide to run the images with the story. Think about the search terms you want to rank for when considering what to name each file.

7. Not having additional sources on file: If you are a doctor who is pitching a broadcast segment about a new health epidemic, make sure you have other sources lined up to support the claim. You sitting alone in a dark room discussing the story is not a complete segment. The media may want to speak with someone who was impacted by the epidemic, a professor on the epidemic and also have you provide your medical expertise on the story. They are also going to want b-roll footage as part of the package. Make sure you have all of this lined up before you pitch the media.

8. Using expired Dropbox links:  Set up a Dropbox account before pitching the media. There is nothing more frustrating to a journalist than emailing a source numerous times and waiting to get the story assets they need, especially because of something like an expired Dropbox link.

9. Missing major newsworthy talking points:  If you are pitching yourself as an expert, you must be frequently consuming the news. A journalist doesn’t want to hear that you have never heard of the story they are working on that is trending in your industry. If they call you for a quote about a story and you have no idea what they are talking about, they will seriously question your credibility. I set up Google alerts for my industry so that I am always well-versed to comment on breaking news.

10. Lacking knowledge of what the media likes:  If you want to be quoted in the media as a subject matter expert and thought-leader, educate yourself on what journalists are looking for in expert sources. You can search on Twitter under the #PRFail hashtag to see what journalists hate. If a journalist asks your opinion, they aren’t looking for a one-line response. If you give them a one-liner, they are less likely to quote you. It is better to give more substantial content to a journalist that they can pull quotes from then to give less.

Not following these public relations tips could reduce the likelihood of being included in a story.

How do I get the media’s attention?

Start by following this list!

Media Pitching 101 Checklist:

  • High-resolution headshots
  • Lifestyle Photos (horizontal)
  • TV-ready attire at the office (in case the media calls!)
  • Updated executive bio
  • Contact information is easily accessible
  • Updated media collateral
  • FAQ document in Word
  • All photos are properly named
  • Additional sources are ready to comment
  • Dropbox links are active (not expired!)
  • Google Alerts set up for your industry

How do you approach a journalist?

Give journalists what they want, how they want it, when they want it and in the preferred format they want it in.

How to get major media coverage for your business 

Sick of sabotaging your chances at media coverage through failed DIY PR attempts that lead nowhere? Contact us today to start increasing exposure and visibility for your business.

Need help avoiding these media mistakes? Our full-service media relations agency can assist you.

Ruby Media Group can:

  • Set up a photoshoot with the top personal branding photographers
  • Media train doctors and corporate executives
  • Set you up with a TV stylist to make sure you look your best on camera for national media interviews
  • Write a polished new executive bio for you that gets the attention of producers, journalists and reporters
  • Work with your website developer to create a press/media page to impress reporters
  • Create pitches and newsworthy angles that will get the media’s attention
We know what the media likes. We take the guesswork out of it for you. Focus on what you are best at and leave the rest to us.

 

NY Media Relations Agency 

Get more media attention with the publicity you need and deserve. Ruby Media Group is a leading New York based Media Relations Agency. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about our media and public relations services including media training, crisis communications consulting, creating a media coverage plan for your business or medical practice and monthly PR services.

Media Interview Preparation Resources

Media Interview Checklist

Media Training Guide

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kris Ruby has over 12 years of experience pitching the media. As a seasoned public relations specialist, Kris Ruby has secured thousands of media impressions and press placements for clients in national publications. Ruby Media Group is an award-winning NY Public Relations Firm and NYC Social Media Marketing Agency.  The New York PR Firm specializes in healthcare marketing, healthcare PR and medical practice marketing.  Ruby Media Group helps companies increase their exposure through leveraging social media and digital PR. RMG conducts a thorough deep dive into an organization’s brand identity, and then creates a digital footprint and comprehensive strategy to execute against. Specialties include content creation, strategic planning, social media management, and digital public relations. RMG helps clients shine in the digital space by extracting their strengths, developing story ideas, and crafting compelling news angles to ensure journalists go to their clients first as story sources and thought leaders. Ruby Media Group creates strategic, creative, measurable targeted campaigns to achieve your organization’s strategic business growth objectives.


Corporate Social Responsibility, PR and the Rise of CEO Activism

150 CEOs of major companies demanded the Trump administration and Congress to take action on gun violence.

In a recent segment on Fox Business, branding strategist Kris Ruby, CEO of Ruby Media Group, discussed:

  • How CEOs and their companies can ‘do good’ in the court of public opinion
  • Is CEO political activism fair to shareholders?
  • Is corporate social responsibility a great PR strategy? Or will it lead to long-term economic failure?
  • If it does lead to loss of profit, is it worth it because CEO’s are giving back to society on a larger level?
CEO activism

CEO Activism: Brands and Political Activism

Is taking a political stand a mistake for brands?

Every brand is taking a political stand these days on social media. But is it a mistake? And can it cost you profitability in the long run?

Taking a political stand as a CEO used to be considered a public relations “no.”  Now, it appears almost every Corporate Executive is changing their tune on this old adage. When did things change and why? What can we attribute to the rise of CEO activism?

  1. Millennial consumers. Consumers under 30 demand corporate social responsibility from their leaders.
  2. Social media. Social media changed the playing field. Many CEO’s are now using social media as a portal to share political views. CEO’s believe, “If I can use my power and social media network to make change in this world, then I will.”

The social media microphone of corporate executives

A lot of CEOs today, particularly in big tech, have celebrity power – a sort of bully pulpit they can work from. As I stated above, anyone selling to people under 30 has to take this into account because younger consumers demand much more corporate social responsibility from the companies and brands they buy from.

Social media has changed the speed at which this information is transmitted and the transparency of politicians’ viewpoints.

Should CEOs get involved in politics and weigh in on controversial issues?

There are expectations for CEOs to speak up on issues anywhere from gun violence to ICE raids and immigration reform.

Consumers are now relying on big brands and corporate executives to impact legislation on topics that were traditionally siloed for the government to handle.

How has this impacted integrated marketing communication strategies?  I am not sure we have seen the full ramifications of how this will impact a brands marketing communications strategy.  We are in unprecedented times.

Yes, corporate political activism seems to have skyrocketed under this administration, but at what cost? All of these decisions can have real-world economic impacts as well.  And at some point that is going to catch up.

While it is great to read the headlines of corporate social responsibility, you rarely read about the PR aftermath of partnership or vendor disputes regarding the fallout from some of these decisions.

CEO Activism: the pros and cons  

Even if the CEOs goal of political brand activism is good in nature, it can still have a ripple effect on every other part of their business.

For example, how does a CEOs political views impact their companies’ media relations efforts? Does it help or hurt them if the press has different political views than the CEO? Similarly, how does this help or hurt the CEO if their employees have different political views?

CEOs say, “Employees want us to speak on their behalf and we are using our power to be their voice.”

However, did anyone ever check what their voice was? That assumes that all employees have the same political views across the board. Employees can feel trapped working for companies that have taken a very public political stance that they don’t agree with. They are afraid to speak up because they don’t want to get fired.  They are working for someone in a political environment where if they express dissident they will be on the outskirts.

CEO Activism and workforce politics

Everyone has a right to free speech, even CEOs.

If a company takes a stand and it ends up driving away customers, the company makes less money and the company stock price goes down.  If shareholders don’t agree with a CEO, they can decide to sell the stock or hold onto it and collect their returns if the stock performs well.

Employees are in a similar situation — if they disagree strongly with a company’s opinion, they can leave. We have historically low levels of unemployment, so it’s easier for a worker to find a new job than ever before. However, just because it is easier, doesn’t mean that most employees will automatically jump ship. Instead, they can stay in the position and it can feel like a slow arduous death.

Taking a side, whether it’s principled or a gimmick, endears you to millions of people on that side.

But what happens to the other side?

For starters, companies with a strong opinion about social or political issues on the far right may not have as much access to talent.  For example, if your company publicly supports Trump, about half the country might not want to come work for you. Similarly, if your company publicly denounces Trump, what about the other half?

When speaking about CEO activism, Richard Edelman stated, “…But we’re also using the power of our employees, who are going to be our motive force.  Employees want us to speak on their behalf. And it’s an urgent time for CEOs to mobilize, in the sense, their entire supply chain of those who contribute to their businesses and get them to write letters as well.” 

“CEOs feel that they are empowered to step forward into the void left by government, that three-quarters of people, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, now want CEOs to stand up and speak up on behalf of issues of the day.  And that’s a new kind of moment in the corporate world. So CEOs are doing so, with the backing of their employees and the backing of their customers.”- Richard Edelman

Let’s dissect this for a minute.

This statement is inherently flawed for a number of reasons.

  • It assumes that all customers have the same political view, and that all employees have the same political view.
  • This is a utopian view of society that does not take into consideration that there are two political parties in this country.
  • One cannot assume that all of their employees and customers agree with them unless they know without a doubt that 100 % of their base only has one political point of view.

Should brands take a political stand?

Business leaders are drawn into the political process at a rapid speed. But does partisanship really have a role in Corporate America, and what impact can it have on the economy? Business leaders are already entrenched with daily corporate negotiations.  Do we really need to add a halo of polarized politics on top of all of it?

Some believe that if corporate executives do not take a political stand, it is a complete abdication of their responsibility as business leaders. Does Congress want to answer to business leaders? And do consumers really want to be entangled in their favorite brand’s political preferences? Will this help or hurt business?

It is also important to note that brand activism as a PR stunt is always pretty obvious, and consumers can tell when a brand is not coming from an authentic place.

Similarly, if your short term goals are financially motivated, consumers can sense that as well.

So, where does this leave CEOs and public relations managers who find themselves smack in the middle of this burgeoning era of corporate political activism?

Should consumers rely on brands and corporations for political activism?

Yes, but only if your target audience is partisan, and you have data to back that up. If your target audience includes consumers from both parties, you should strongly consider if inserting your brand into controversial political policies makes sense. Just because it is the hot PR strategy of the moment doesn’t mean it is a profitable one for your business.

If you want to alienate half of your employees and consumers, go for it. But traditionally, companies prided themselves in caring about all of their customers.  That should include customers from all political backgrounds. As a brand, you cannot preach inclusivity, when in reality, you are actually executing corporate exclusivity, while ignoring any differing opinions.

BONUS:

Listen to the 1-hour podcast interview with Kris Ruby on CEO Activism on The Kinglsey Grant Show

CEO Activism podcast kris ruby

 

 

 

Don’t want to listen to the podcast? Read highlights from the podcast episode here:

Transcription Highlights:

PR and Marketing Pros: Do you really want to insert your brand into politics?  

When CEOs become brand ambassadors. Are CEOs the new influencers? 

Many brands state that they are non-partisan and do not endorse parties or candidates. But all of that quickly goes out the window when the CEO takes to Twitter to put their name on a partisan issue. What executives say and do matters, especially on social media marketing platforms. Gone are the days when a corporate executive could have a public view and a private one. Everything is enmeshed into one. While some brands outwardly support political candidates, the people behind the brand may have different opinions from the C-Suite. All of this can cause PR problems and the perfect storm.

Imagine this scenario: a brand publicly supports a candidate. The CEO posts a different political view. The agency and account executive post an opposing view on social media.  Can you see how this can start to confuse consumers?

Engaging in brand activism: What Marketers Should Know About Brand Activism

Controversial issues, public relations, and brand activism

The power of the media to draw public attention to particular social issues has always been a central focus of the news business. But what if CEOs of major companies now had the same power as large media outlets have as a result of social media? Could this power be harnessed for good? Or could it be used to further push their corporate agenda? Brand marketers and public relations consultants face a pressing challenge this election year.

In this podcast episode, we cover:

  • Should CEO’s take a political stance?
  • Does politics have a place in your marketing and public relations strategy?
  • When does CEO activism start?
  • The Risks of Brand Activism
  • What is brand activism?

Why are so many business leaders are engaging in CEO activism today?

CEO’s are the new Hollywood celebrities using their social media platforms to give their Oscar acceptance speech.

We are witnessing a major shift of PR strategies in corporate America, where even ten years ago, public relations professionals would tell clients to avoid taking a public stance on politics as part of their corporate communications strategy.  Today, we have gone the opposite direction where it’s a ‘cool’ thing to do for CEOs to jump in and say what they think about guns or whatever the hot topic is. They’re hopping on this bandwagon because they think, “We’re going to make real change, we’re going to tell people what we think.”  But the problem is sometimes what they said can have deep business consequences. We saw that with Nike with the tax incentives that were lost for them to build a plant.

Brand activism campaigns that backfired

Brand faced backlash 

There is a divide in America among CMOS, CEOs, brand advertisers, and publicists on what a brand marketing strategy should be and how far of a line they should cross when it comes to politics.

Consumers don’t always want the story behind the product. Sometimes, they just want the product.

You don’t always want to know the whole story behind every product you purchase. Now, that’s the opposite of what brand advertisers say today who say it’s all about the story and about taking a stance.

If you order pizza, you just want it to be pizza.  If you buy new shoes, you just want a pair of shoes.  You get a toothbrush, you just want a toothbrush.  You get a razor, you just want a razor.

We have seen brands who are willing to get involved in social issues win, but we have also seen them lose in a very big way.

Potential Risks of CEO activism CSR PR plans

  • Run the risk of losing your best employees who may not be in alignment with the CEOs POV
  • Could potentially lead to damaged brand equity over time.
  • Can irritate shareholders
  • Employees can become disengaged and productivity can decrease
  • Lowered employee morale
  • Can lose your most important talent
  • Trust can erode in your brand if you don’t follow through on issues you publicly support
  • Can develop a corporate reputation for jumping on the bandwagon for media attention

Caving to the CSR agenda may be the ‘cool’ thing to do, but it can have collateral damage that results in long-term economic problems.

There can be loss of profitability and loss of sales and revenue long term and that’s what no one looks at. In the moment, they look at what they perceive as the short-term gain which is a lot of free or media and press coverage saying, look at what this company is doing and all the social media mentions and earned media in general.  That doesn’t necessarily equate to long-term profitability. People look at short-term PR wins, but they’re not necessarily thinking, how does that actually impact how many shoes we’re selling or how many razors we’re selling? I get that people are happy about all of the earned media that they’re getting but what actually happens to the stock price long term? And what happens to the brand equity long term, because that can certainly take a hit. So sometimes people will say, oh, their stock price did fine and they did better than ever. Okay, but did they irritate a core group of consumers so much that they will never win their business back? Will they never, ever buy their shoes again? You can’t necessarily look at that as seeing that short term with sales results, you need more time to see the ripple effect of that.

  • Do not forget your core audience that built your brand
  • Weigh the balance between short term and long-term PR goals for CSR
  • Your true fans and your core consumer base are the audiences who built your business. Some companies decide to pivot as their business needs change over time. That is okay, as long as you are okay with potentially losing the initial early adopters.

Is corporate social responsibility a great PR strategy?

“Leaders should create an environment where people are going to be engaged, motivated and inspired and I find that these things will do the opposite. Because if a person doesn’t really align themselves with this, they’re not going to do the things that the company wants them to do. And therefore, productivity and profit are going to get hurt in the long run. And the question is, is CSR PR and CEO activism really worth it?”  – Kingsley Grant

Corporate Social Responsibility can be a great PR strategy if it’s integrated in the right way with your larger integrated marketing communications plan. If you truly believe in what you’re saying and you have thought it through, it can be a home run.   But if you want to do something, for example, to raise environmental awareness, and you’re taking a strong stance, if you really thought that through, and you figured out how you can integrate that in every way, and not just make it a PR stunt and integrate that throughout your entire company, then that is a great move. But if it’s not integrated with your larger business strategy, consumers can sense that and it can feel like a PR stunt for quick earned media attention.

Social media has played a major role in CEO activism

It is better to lose a media opportunity that wasn’t right for your company than to stick your foot in hot water and have no crisis communications PR plan if you have to backpedal.

the social ceo CEO's communications strategy

Executives are getting more attention because of social media than they ever had before. This is a blessing and a curse and must be harnessed properly. This is why it is still important to have PR teams weigh in on corporate social media strategy. Like it or not, these executives are bringing a heightened level of brand awareness to their company. CEOs are the new influencers. They must learn how to manage that influence.

Unfortunately, many CEOs are trigger happy with social media. They now have the ability to post on social media without running anything through the traditional gatekeepers of a PR firm or CMO.  Ten years ago, if a CEO was going to put out a statement, everyone on the communications team would review it ten times before it was distributed. That is simply no longer the case. There’s no real thought or strategy behind some of the things that they post because they’re excited about their new celebrity power so they keep posting.  Overposting on social media will dilute your message over time. I’d rather see a CEO do one great post a week, rather than posting every day.

No, you don’t have to be everywhere and strike while the iron is hot. Wait until it cools off!

 

KEY: trust + consistency + conviction

If you want to stand for something, truly stand for it. But don’t take a stand and then not put out any content on that topic that aligns with your POV four months later. Say whatever you want and take a strong stance, but don’t take a stand because you can get a quick PR hit from it, take a stand because you actually really believe in what you are saying and follow through on that stand.

Taking a stand does not mean writing a LinkedIn post or putting your signature on a document and then doing nothing with it.  That is my biggest issue right now with what CEOs are doing. It just feels hypocritical to me. Four months later, I don’t see anything from them on it. They should all have landing pages on their site. If you’re going to take that stand and go out in the media publicly and get press coverage on it, you really better do something to follow through.

“You will be surprised that what you hear today is only a drop in the bucket. She delivers. I have been watching her in the media and also her posts, I want to encourage you, as you’re listening, that if you hear something that resonates with you today, make sure you check out, Kris, because she has a lot to say about this and will help your company create long term strategies and something that’s sustainable, which is what you really need for your company. So, don’t let this be your time to sit down. Act on it today.

If you want to be involved in corporate social responsibility as a company, you might want to go back and think about what she said. Be consistent. Let that be the thing that people know you for and make sure any CSR PR is not just a one-time thing like some other companies are doing.  Lead with that kind of integrity and that consistency that people can know and can trust you for where people will applaud your conviction. I applaud their stand I applaud what they’re really doing. at least they’re being consistent. That is what my big takeaway is from this episode.

Kris, I want to thank you so very much for taking the time to be with us here on the show and delivering such great value. I love your conviction. You speak with power and a voice that I believe people will have to listen to.  for me, I want to listen to the voice. I thank you for bringing a fresh perspective.” -Kinglsey Grant, podcast host

POLITICS AND CEO ACTIVISM: FINAL THOUGHTS

The traditional hierarchy that existed within the corporate world no longer exists when it comes to politics.

The question as a CEO is: what is your time worth and do you want to spend the time to engage in the backlash that will happen as a result of putting your opinion online

There is room for one opinion and one narrative in this country. If you try at all to veer away from that set narrative you will be attacked and unfortunately, that also means that your business is going to be attacked.

CEOs have to think about: what price is this worth to me for my mental sanity. A CEO is thinking about running a business in addition to a firestorm for putting out an opinion online

You end up apologizing for something that is so far off course from what you ever even meant. That’s not strong brand positioning or messaging when you are forced to make apologies for when you never put out to begin with. We see forced corporate apologies written by PR professionals because they are being told by their handler they have to do this. I’m not sure those people said anything that was so wrong in the first place.

3 key takeaways:

  1. Limit your risk and liability every time you put an opinion out.
  2. Think about what are the ramifications of this. Am I okay with this post being used on the cover of the NY Times?
  3. Most executives don’t realize that reporters are pulling tweets into their stories. When you tweet, it is public so they are pulling those tweets into their reporting.

 

Brand Activism Resources

Most consumers want CEOs to take a political stance

What CEOs Should Know About Speaking Up on Political Issues

The right and wrong way to do CEO activism

Should CEOs be activists?

When should CEOs take a political stand?

The cost of CEO activism

Interview: How CEOs and executives should be using social media

how ceos should use social media

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This article was written by Kris Ruby, CEO of Ruby Media Group. Kris Ruby has over a decade of experience in public relations and CEO personal brand management. In addition to consulting CEOs on crisis communications, Ruby is also a political commentator. She has appeared on Fox News over 100 times and on countless other networks discussing the politics of social media and corporate branding.  Most recently, Kris Ruby discussed the issue of Nike’s political marketing strategy with Kaepernick on Fox News and Fox Business. Ruby also provided commentary on Gillette’s political marketing strategy with the “The Best Men Can Be” campaign on Cheddar TV. 

All content on this web site is owned by Ruby Media Group Inc. © Content may not be reproduced in any form without Ruby Media Group’s written consent.  Ruby Media Group Inc. will file a formal DMCA Takedown notice if any copy has been lifted from this web site. 

This article was last updated on February 20, 2020. 


Media Relations Guide

Media Relations Etiquette

A Publicists Ultimate Guide to Strategic Media Relations 101

How can I use this media relations guide for my public relations campaign?

This guide is for public relations practitioners looking to increase best practices and for clients who want to understand how the media really works so that they can form better relationships with their external agencies and PR firms.

As a public relations strategist, I have handled media relations campaigns for B2B companies and private medical practices for over a decade.

The one thing I have witnessed over and over again during the onboarding period is the steep learning curve when someone hires a PR firm for the first time.

“PR is SO much work. You never told me how much time this was going to take when I hired you!”

The goal of this guide is to help you navigate unchartered territories of working with journalists, reporters and producers so that you gain a better understanding of how the media operates. I believe that there should be no surprises when it comes to PR.

When there is transparency in the process of how the media operates, you will develop more realistic campaign expectations. Additionally, it will also save you hours of wasted time spinning your wheels trying to figure out why you spent time answering journalist queries that die in a black hole where all other bad pitches go to die.

Hint: not every query you submit answers to will be used. It’s important someone tells you that upfront so you don’t spend time guessing at the basics of media relations 101!

Plus, when you are more informed about how public relations works, you will (hopefully) have a better relationship with your PR agency.  Too many clients/agencies have strained relationships and I believe this stems from the central problem of not truly understanding how the media works. This is not your fault. No one ever explained it to you, and believe me, there is a lot to explain!

For whatever reason, PR’s like to keep a veil of secrecy when it comes to how they work their magic. I want to change that by putting you, the consumer, in the driver’s seat.

In The Ultimate Guide to Media Relations, I will teach you:

  • How the media works
  • What the role of a PR firm is
  • Client responsibilities when a PR firm is retained
  • How to work with your PR firm to get the best campaign traction
  • Media relations best practices
  • Media Relations etiquette

PLUS learn how to answer questions from a reporter to increase your response rate.

Too often, PR firms get blamed for things outside of their control. Let’s change that, starting now!

MEDIA RELATIONS 101

What is Media Relations?

Media relations is defined as the specific practice of handling media requests with the press, while public relations refers to the management of a company’s relationship with the public and all external stakeholders. A Director of Media Relations is responsible for all contact with the press on any and all earned media opportunities.

Additionally, media relations strategists are responsible for securing new press opportunities, building relationships with press outlets, pitching journalists, crafting press materials and media advisories, contacting news media, handling all incoming media requests, and developing a press outreach strategy.

A media relations strategist:

  • Tracks brand mentions in the press
  • Discovers new media opportunities and media outlets
  • Searches for new press opportunities
  • Secures regular, consistent media interviews
  • Manages media lists in target publications
  • Contacts media on behalf of your company
  • Shapes public opinion

What is the difference between public relations and media relations?

Public Relations Vs. Media Relations.

Media relations is a subset of public relations.

For a long time, media relations was the largest component of PR because traditionally, the media were the primary, trusted gatekeepers to information. It took insider connections to get the media’s attention. All of that is still true today, but parts of it are very different.

The State of the PR Industry

How technology affects media relations 

Newsrooms are shrinking and social media has democratized the publishing of information. There are far more PR practitioners in the U.S. than journalists.  According to Bloomberg, Public Relations jobs have exceeded those of reporters by more than a six-to-one ratio, which is significantly up from last year. According to data from the U.S. Census, the ratio was two-to-one 20 years ago.

PR professionals outnumber journalists by 6:1

This represents a 2x increase in 10 years.

PR Industry Stats

While media relations is still part of the mix, it is usually a smaller component of most public relations plans. It is also significantly more challenging to get the attention of journalists than it ever has been before! That is why learning how to pitch the media and what makes a story newsworthy is so critical in today’s media landscape.

Journalists report receiving anywhere from 20-300 pitches from PR professionals per day. Many of these journalists also report only writing one article per day. See the discrepancy and why this is such a problem?

Technology has also had a significant impact on the field of media relations. As a result of social media and the rise of direct to consumer PR query services, you now have the ability to speak directly with the media. On the one hand, this is a good thing. On the other, it further inundates journalists inboxes with pitches that are off base and go straight to their spam folder.

Journalism & PR employment statistics

What is the job outlook for Public Relations?

As newsrooms shrink, the PR industry grows.

Stats on Media Relations: 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the U.S. Department of Labor, “Employment of public relations specialists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The need for organizations to maintain their public image will continue to drive employment growth.”

According to Harvard Business Review, the average worker receives 12,000 emails a year, while writers at top-tier publications receive 38,000 emails. Wow! Can you imagine being a journalist today and being bombarded with so many pitches?

According to Bloomberg, “Employment for public relations specialists will expand to 282,600 in 2026, up 9 percent from 2016, according to projections from the Labor Department. Meanwhile, jobs for reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts are forecast to decline 9 percent to 45,900 over the same period.  For the news business, that would extend already sizable declines. Newsroom employment fell 23 percent to 88,000 from 2008 to 2017, with the number of newspapers dropping 45 percent to 39,000, according to a Pew Research Center study.”

This is a serious problem for your media relations efforts, especially if you are trying to pitch the media yourself without an external agency. Journalists are increasingly frustrated with their inboxes being blown up by PR professionals, and PR professionals are finding it harder to land their client’s digital ink.

WHY YOU NEED MEDIA RELATIONS

Media relations is the most critical part of a PR campaign. Other public relations activities such as community outreach can be mastered without intricate knowledge of how the media works. However, media relations is the most specialized component of public relations. To understand why you need media relations, you first need to understand how publicists and journalists work together on stories and segments.

Digital Media Landscape

 

How do publicists and journalists work together?

Journalists and publicists work closely together on interviews, articles, and broadcast segments.  Good publicists can make journalists’ lives easier when they are on deadline by providing access to interview opportunities with subject matter experts and key opinion leaders that may otherwise be hard to reach.  Additionally, PR firms have access to media contacts that many people do not have. While you certainly could try to build these relationships on your own, it would take a considerable amount of time, effort and media savviness to navigate the changing landscape.

MEDIA RELATIONS JOB DESCRIPTION

What does a media relations agency do?

Careers in Public Relations & Media Relations

A media relations agency is responsible for handling all interview coordination between the expert source and the media.

So, what does a media relations specialist do and what does the job entail?

A media relations specialist is responsible for handling all incoming media inquiries for a corporation. There are several variations of the job title, which can often appear as:

  • Press contact
  • Media contact
  • Director of PR
  • Director of Media Relations

A media relations specialist makes sure a journalist receives requested high-resolution images or a sources executive biography.  They are also responsible for making sure your PR efforts aren’t sabotaged to ensure your best chance of top-tier coverage in major press outlets and publications.

Ideally, a trusted media relations specialist provides authoritative sources to journalists and producers who are on quick turnaround times or tight deadlines.  Publicists and media relations specialists understand the sense of urgency that comes with deadlines and filing stories and are able to give the media what they need fast.

Media Relations Skills: organized, reliable, excellent writer, ability to multitask, critical thinking, ability to analyze news trends and condense information,

THE IMPORTANCE OF MEDIA RELATIONS 

Why is media relations important for strategic public relations?

Journalists and producers are working on several different stories and segments at any given time and your client is not always their top priority.

If you don’t understand media relations and PR etiquette, you run the risk of never being quoted in that media outlet again. If a journalist has a bad experience with a source, they may be likely to share that negative experience with other journalists. Is that really how you want to be perceived simply because you didn’t take the time to understand the language of the media or how things work?

There are so many intricacies that go into Public Relations. PR is an art. It is a craft. This is often why I do not recommend DIY Public Relations. When pitching is handled through a Media Relations Agency, the communication is often clearer, and the ball doesn’t get dropped. Often times, a PR firm may go back and forth with a journalist up to 20 times fact-checking a one-line quote in an article. After the fourth or fifth email, people who attempt the DIY PR route usually stop replying to the journalist and risk getting cut from the story entirely. PR firms don’t let that happen.

NYC PR FIRM OFFICE

 

Why is media coverage important?

Media coverage is important because if you do great things in your career, and no one hears about it, then it defeats the entire purpose of what you are trying to achieve, right?

Media coverage enables the mass public to hear about all of the great things you are doing in the world. It gives you an opportunity to control the narrative and share your story and expand your reach through free press mentions.

Media coverage also gives you an opportunity to reach larger and highly targeted audiences beyond the people, clients or patients your business or practice serves daily.

Without national media coverage, many brands never would have been built. Media coverage is the central conduit and launchpad to give these brands wings to expand key messaging.

Media Coverage Benefits: Media coverage can snowball to other opportunities including paid speaking engagements, conference keynotes and social media brand endorsement deals.

Imagine being able to reach your target audience through regular media interviews on cable tv shows, blogs, magazines, newspapers, large publications and niche podcasts? We can make that happen!

MEDIA TRACKING IN PUBLIC RELATIONS

What is media tracking in public relations?

There are many ways to track media placements and press placements, but first, let me explain what a media placement is.

What is a media placement?

A media placement is earned press coverage that is secured through public relations tactics in a variety of digital and traditional channels including but not limited to digital media, print magazines, newspapers, radio, television, podcasts and more. Earned media placements are “earned” through PR efforts. Conversely, media that is paid for is called advertising.

What is a PR placement?

For example, when our agency secures press coverage for a client, we email them a link to the coverage, which includes the publicity mention with a link back to their web site. We typically say, “attached please find a link to the press coverage secured on your behalf.”

A PR placement means that the client’s quote ran in a media outlet and the journalist used their quote and the story is live. Publicists are responsible for placing these quotes and stories when they act as the liaison between the media and expert sources.

How are Media Placements shared?

There are several ways to share PR placements with clients: email, texting screenshots, press clipping reports or by sharing editor feedback they received with the client on why they were such a great source!

MEDIA RELATIONS STRATEGY

Before reaching out to a reporter or sending a pitch, it is critical to develop a media relations strategy.

Determine:

  1. What outlets you want to pitch
  2. Who the reporters are at those outlets

To develop your own media relations action plan, do the following:

  • Create a targetted media list
  • Use media relations tools to help with this!
  • Craft an electronic press kit (EPK)

What is a media relations strategy and why do you need one?

Are you looking to get quoted as an expert? Do you want brand mentions? Feature profiles? National broadcast TV segments on cable nows? Or Internet shows with strong backlinks?

Effective media relations starts with a high-level strategy and it must tie back to your business goals and objectives. For example, a client looking to leverage PR as part of their SEO campaign may opt not to do broadcast tv segments because backlinks are rarely included. Conversely, someone looking to build strong brand exposure may prioritize getting booked on TV as their #1 media goal.

No two media strategies are the same. But, if you want to ultimately fail with any PR firm you hire, do a spray and pray approach and don’t take the time to develop a media relations strategy. If you do this, you will hire and fire every firm you work with for all of eternity and will continue to be disappointed. This is on you, not the firm. Why? Because only you know what truly drives your business and only you know in your heart what you want the outcome of the campaign efforts to be. Don’t make other people guess at this. Lay it out there. People aren’t mind readers.

A publicist could land you top tier media coverage and meet every KPI you set in the contract, and you still may not be happy. Why? Because maybe you are looking for PR to ultimately drive leads and sales instead of media coverage. Or, maybe you are looking for at targeted PR campaign to get on the radar of other referring physicians. If that is the case, consumer press may ultimately be useless, and a highly targeted campaign in medical trade journals makes more sense. The point here is you have to really tell someone what you want and then help point them in that direction.

Ultimately, it’s not just about getting media coverage. It has to be about something larger that is more targeted. For example, getting booked to talk on television as an expert about things outside of your wheelhouse may not meet your ultimate objective of building a brand as a leading expert in your field.

If you are only looking for press coverage in a very specific niche, that means you only want to provide commentary to the media in a narrow scope. That strategy is debatable because most likely your agenda is not the same as the national media’s agenda and what is trending in the news, but that is topic for another article (or book!).

You also have to be clear with how you will measure results. If you hire a PR firm, their success is measured in media coverage secured. It is not measured in sales, leads or any other metric that is used in direct marketing.

Pro Tip: If you don’t develop media relations KPI’s in your contract, don’t be upset when your PR firm gets you a bunch of press placements that have nothing to do with what you envisioned. It is your responsibility to define what the targets are that you want to reach, not theirs.

MEDIA RELATIONS ETIQUETTE

One of the biggest mistakes people make with media relations is they do not follow basic etiquette rules when communicating with the media.

Follow these media relations etiquette rules when working with reporters

3 media relations etiquette rules to follow when publicists work with journalists to ensure success

  • Thank the reporter for media exposure. It is incredible how many publicists skip this simple step. Too often, publicists look at an article from the perspective of how their client will see it and forget to look at it from a perspective of gratitude to the journalist who included their client in the first place. Journalists work hard on stories. If a journalist is giving your client editorial space or digital ink, say thank you for the coverage instead of complaining that the link wasn’t right or the quote was cut short.
  • Act as a Media Gatekeeper. Media Relations Strategists must act as the gatekeeper between the client and the media at all times. The best public relations professionals value their relationships with the media first and foremost. They believe clients come and go, but the media stays. If you burn through those relationships with the media for a client who may or may not keep you retained, you ultimately will damage your reputation as a publicist. However, if you know and respect the rules and filter PR requests, journalists will want to keep working with you, and clients will learn over time that you know what you are doing. Hopefully, they will begin to understand why you say no to certain requests and will begin to trust your strategic media guidance on topics such as how to stay relevant to the media.  If you are continually pushed by a client to pitch stories you know are not newsworthy, it may be time to reevaluate the engagement.
  • Market Your Media Coverage. Promoting your earned media exposure and press mentions on social media is critical to amplifying the value of the press placements for your business. Do not forget to share the media coverage on social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and your blog. Journalists want to drive traffic to their articles. If they included your client in a story, return the favor by tweeting a link to the article and directing eyeballs to it. This small social media act of gratitude can go a long way in ensuring your client is used again as a source. Always extend the value of your media coverage through a strategic cross-channel digital marketing strategy. Being featured in the media is irrelevant if no one knows about it!

IMPROVING MEDIA RELATIONS BEST PRACTICES 

Buzzstream conducted a study with over 500 journalists on their preferred PR pitching preferences. Here is what they found:

  • 39% of reporters stated they would like to receive exclusive research in a pitch
  • Only 15% said that want to receive “emotional stories”
  • Only 5% of reporters said they want to be contacted by phone
  • 81% of reporters said they want to be contacted through email
  • 69% of reporters preferred to be pitched in the morning and only 9% wanted to be pitched in the evening
  • 88% of writers prefer to be pitched less than 200 words
  • Reporters said they wanted subject lines that are direct, concise, descriptive and include keywords relevant to their beat
  • 33% of reporters said they are very likely to delete a pitch if it has bad grammar

PITCHING JOURNALISTS: HOW TO GET YOUR PITCH NOTICED

Effective Media Relations Strategies

How to Answer Questions From a Reporter

  • Do not provide one-word answers. Provide the journalist with thorough interview answers.  I won’t send a journalist interview answers from a client that are one-line replies, and neither should you. I will go back to my client and ask them to re-do the answers because I know what a journalist is expecting and want to give them lengthier answers that they can pull good quotes from. Additionally, if the answers are missing the mark on the question the journalist asked, I will also ask them to re-do the answers before submitting. A good publicist knows what a journalist needs and can anticipate the needs of their editor as well. They may even have worked in journalism prior to becoming a publicist, which further helps them to understand what is truly newsworthy.
  • Watch the clock. Do not say you will provide interview answers by a certain time and then provide them after the journalist’s deadline. If your client bails on the answers, let the reporter know ASAP and, if possible, provide the reporter with another source. Do not leave them hanging. Additionally, when you are replying to queries from reporters, time is of the essence. For every one press query posted, reporters receive hundreds of responses. You want to be one of the first to reply.  If clients are asking you to submit queries hours later or after a journalist’s deadline has expired, don’t do it.  It reeks of PR amateur hour.

How Do Journalists Conduct Interviews?

Reporters have different methods of conducting interviews. Some journalists want to speak by phone, while others want to send questions to sources by email. Publicists are responsible for figuring out the journalist’s preferred interview format and coordinating interview times, answers, and any additional information a reporter needs from a source. Often, the journalists preferred interview format may conflict with the client’s preferred interview format.  This is always a challenging and volatile situation to navigate through.  It never gets easier.

How do you approach a journalist?

Media 101: How to follow up with editors

Freelancer Writer Lindsay Tiger recently shared 13 helpful tips for PR’s to know when working with the media in my PR group. This should be mandatory reading for all PR firm clients to read.  She gave me permission to share the below 13 PR tips with readers.

What journalists want in PR pitches and what reporters really want from PR specialists (and their clients!)

As someone who interviews experts every single day, I wanted to share some friendly tips for what works (and doesn’t) in terms of commentary. I’m often asked why certain quotes aren’t included, while others frequently are, so thought insight might be helpful:

Don’t ask when the story will be live. I don’t know when the story is publishing. You will probably find out before I do. I wish I knew!

I can’t promise coverage, ever, for any reason, no matter what. Even if I stay at a hotel for two nights. Even if you send me something. Even if it’s expensive. It’s not an exchange, it’s a review. It’s unethical for me to guarantee anything, and final edits are always out of my hands. I wish more people understood the difference between paid influencers and journalists.

Don’t ask for quick edits. I don’t have access to the CMS system, and I want to make a change as badly as you do, but I can’t make it happen. It’s up to my editor. I wish I could make a quick edit — my bylines would be better!

An expert can have one title — not 20. It’s cool they’re a career expert, a botanist, a yoga therapist, an author, a podcast speaker and a certified life coach… but I only have so much space in my word count.  I only have 1,000 words to work with and I can’t include two lines of titles. Choose the most appropriate for the story topic.

If an editor makes me link to an affiliate, I have to. I can’t not, it’s part of my story assignment. I’ll always try to tell you if that’s the case. If they change the link to an affiliate, I probably can’t change it back. I wish I could.

I can’t change internal processes. I know your clients are pressuring you and you have deliverables and I totally understand. Your job is hard, just like mine.

Short doesn’t work. When an expert simply answers a question in a sentence, I delete it. The purpose of expert commentary is to add insight and depth, and one or two sentences is a waste of your time, their time and my time. Ideally, 4-6 sentences per question is awesome. I’d rather cut down than have to beg.

Send me the raw stuff.  I know as publicists, you edit responses. I do appreciate it from a grammatical perspective but also, having raw commentary that’s super-long and winded, is sometimes great. I can pull what I need easily — and it saves you time!

Make it different. Especially when I’m profiling many executives in one story, it’s the most unique angles that stand out to me. Sure, everyone says to go to bed earlier if you want to be a morning person — but what else? It’s great to have a perspective that is out of the norm. And psst: sometimes when someone is super interesting to me, I’ll even pitch a feature on them!

Don’t be shady. Seriously. SO MANY TIMES I take out tracking links. SO MANY TIMES, an ‘expert’ is recommending a product they’re paid to endorse. SO MANY TIMES, the advice is only about using their product or service. This isn’t cool, ethical or genuine — or helpful.

Give it time. At least a week, preferably two. Writers are often working on a dozen or so stories at the same time, so I will never know if I’m using quotes within 24 hours after you send them.

Don’t plagiarize. Under no circumstance, ever, EVER, EVER should you submit commentary that’s been published on your blog or send to another writer, ever. I legit pay for a plagiarism checker because this has happened to me so many times.

Two people can’t say the same thing. Even if there are two people running a business or the founders of a company, you can’t write a direct quote that’s attributed to two people. Pick one or send unique answers for each.

 

STRATEGIC MEDIA RELATIONS

A successful media relations strategist knows how to walk the tightrope of the client’s needs and the media’s needs on a daily basis. The goal is to mitigate the level of stress and try to strike a balance.  You must be able to work in a high-stress environment daily to succeed in media relations. Even though clients hire you to get press coverage, they may get perturbed by the daily disruption of media requests. Remind them of why they hired you, and that this is all part of the process of getting earned media coverage. Yes, PR is a lot of work from the client-side and from the agency side. PR isn’t for the faint of heart. There is a reason why Public Relations is continuously listed year after year as one of the most stressful jobs in America.

Ready to increase media exposure for your business? We can help with media training, media relations consulting, media relations strategy guidance and execution of ongoing media relations work with national media outlets on behalf of your company. Contact us today to discuss how we can help get you more interviews and get you booked, fast!

The importance of having an internal communication media relations process  

Always have an internal media relations policy in place

It is critical to have a media relations strategy and a media relations communications process internally to handle media inquiries. If you hire a PR firm, you should make sure your staff knows to direct any and all incoming media requests to the PR firm. Make sure not to sabotage your own PR efforts. Training your staff on best practices of working with your PR firm is an absolute must. For example, if your PR firm is pitching you and a reporter calls up your practice manager but the manager takes a message and doesn’t relay the message to you until ten hours later, the reporter will most likely move on to another source. Train your staff on how to work with the PR firm and the proper protocol on handling time-sensitive requests from the media.

Remember, being quoted in the media or mentioned in an article is not your right. It is a privilege and an opportunity to be featured in media outlets. It is called earned media for a reason. Earn it!

Media Relations Checklist 

  • Help them help you
  • Respond to press queries in a timely manner
  • Provide thought-leadership content to your PR firm
  • Do not give one-word answers
  • Let your PR firm know newsworthy topics you can comment on
  • Dedicate at least 1 hour per day to working with your PR firm
  • Do not flake out on media commitments
  • Do not reschedule interviews with the media
  • Do not add PR firm contacts on your personal social media (unless you want to irritate the PR firm)

Media Pitching 101 Checklist (BONUS!)

Before pitching the media, also make sure you have the proper media assets and collateral ready to go.  Here is a Media Pitching 101 checklist we created for you. Use this before your first pitch goes out!

Media Pitching 101 Checklist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PR Agency Pricing Structure

Media Relations/PR Costs

 “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” -Bill Gates

How much should I pay for PR or media relations and how much do publicists cost?

People often ask, “How much do you get paid in PR?”  Media relations agencies work on a fixed retainer model. Prices can start at $5k monthly to $25k monthly up to even $60k monthly depending on the scope of services and desired press coverage goals. For example, are you interested in local coverage, trade coverage or national press coverage? That will determine the cost of media relations. Additionally, the cost of the service will depend on if you are hiring a freelancer or a large agency.

Public Relations Pricing

Can I afford a PR campaign? How much does Public Relations cost?

People often ask, “Can I really afford a PR campaign?” It is important to understand there are two costs involved in a PR campaign: the cost of the PR firm, and the cost of your time. Most people allocate a budget for the firm, but they do not properly allocate the time to work with the firm they hired. Look at what your billable time is worth by the hour, multiply that by at least one hour a day for every day of the month, and factor that number into your cost.

Do you have to pay for PR?

Yes, unfortunately, you have to pay for PR! Like many things in life, PR is not free.

There is an article that ran in Forbes called, “Why you should almost never pay for PR.” Many articles like this have zero validity to them and are highly questionable. PR is NOT a waste of money as the article asserts. Why? Let’s dissect the claims..

But for those of us outside the Fortune 100, a simple bit of effort from your marketing lead, founders and other executives is really all that’s required.”

This seriously makes me laugh. If that was all that was required in PR, we wouldn’t be in business! You should see my inbox.. to place one quote from an expert could require 30 emails back and forth! It is massive time-suck with most executives DON’T have the time to do. That is one of the main reasons having a publicist handle the manual labor for you in addition to the strategic PR is so critical!

The author also asserts, “Note that most paid-for PR firms have a so-called “media blast list.” As part of your $10k/month service all they simply do is put together a boilerplate press release and “blast” it to their 1000-strong contact list of “schedulers” at various media outlets.”

Again, laughable. We do not have a media blast list! Who would ever blast the media in a blanket blast? Gross.

That is not in line with best practices, and also, sending out press releases is so 1990 unless you are putting out a major announcement like a company acquisition through a traditional news wire service. Anyone who is blasting 1000 contacts at media outlets will be blacklisted for spam from every journalist.

“Knowing this, why pay for what you can and should be doing on your own?”

Again, faulty logic here. I certainly can do my taxes on my own if I invested enough time in learning how to do them, but does that mean I should? NO.

As a business owner, you can do many things on your own. That isn’t the question. The question is where should your precious hours be spent, and what percentage of every other tactical activity should be outsourced to external service providers.

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. It is better to be a specialist than a generalist.

“But overall, my recommendation is: keep control of your PR by keeping most/all of it in-house.”

What a terrible recommendation. Unless you have hired in- house employees who specialize in public relations, this is a disaster waiting to happen. Just because your new employee knows how to write a press release, does not mean they are qualified to handle crisis communications for your company!

“After all, no one knows and can tell your own story better than you and the people who live it every day.”

Sure, no one can tell your story better than you can. This is why we interview all clients to extract their story and craft the story in the best possible light. Of course, no one knows YOUR story better than YOU.

However, just because you know your own story (not that big of an achievement- I would hope so!) doesn’t mean you know how to tell it, or who to tell it to, or how to craft it, or what channels to distribute it through.

Even though know ones knows your story better than you do does not mean you are the best one to tell it to reporters.

That is the equivalent of saying – no one knows your story better than you do, so why would you need a lawyer? You may as well make your own case in front of a judge in a court of law because you know your story best, right? No, wrong!

Pay for placement PR firms and Guaranteed PR

Should PR firms guarantee media coverage?

Pay for performance PR or PR retainers? Which is better?

Retainers are the industry standard when you are working with a PR firm. Pay for performance PR options are still very looked down upon by traditional PR practitioners. In fact, a Tech Crunch declared a war on a pay for placement PR firm for offering a la carte pricing for press placements.

pay per placement pr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRICING PR

The PR industry is really in trouble right now. You have so many people who are selling editorial coverage and offering guaranteed placements. This is not real journalism. This is not PR.

I urge you to watch the video How to Spot a Fake PR Firm.  It contains a solid ten minutes of truth about the PR industry right now.

There is no possible way any Publicist can guarantee press coverage.  There are a million factors and variables on any given day such as:

  • Will there be breaking news?
  • Will the story get bumped?
  • Will the story get cut because an editor went in a different direction?
  • Did someone else give better interview answers than the ones your source provided?

These are only some of the factors that go into getting a story placed. As more people tout guaranteed PR placement coverage, the industry becomes diluted as well as the value of PR in general. It also dilutes value in the client’s eyes because they are only attributing value to actual placements secured, and not the labor that goes into pitching and getting a story placed and all the other work involved from a tactical perspective. Additionally, press placements and media relations are only one component of a solid integrated PR campaign.

So, even if someone can guarantee you pay for placement PR, they aren’t offering you any real strategic insight, which is a critical component of a media relations campaign.

Should you hire a media relations specialist?

reasons not to hire a pr firm

If you cannot spend at least one hour per day working with a media relations agency or PR firm, you should not hire a PR firm.  Here is a list of 10 reasons why you shouldn’t hire a PR firm in addition to not having the time to work with an agency. Retaining a publicist is a massive amount of work. You must be willing to put in the time to give the firm what they need on a consistent basis so they can do the job you retained them to do. Please think about this before you hire a PR firm. We see way too many people hiring PR firms and then ghosting the firms when they need to give them the necessary material to do the job they hired them to do.

If you are going to hire a media relations specialist, you may want to consider hiring someone who has former experience as a journalist or producer. Many former producers and journalists have made the leap to PR because there are more job opportunities in the PR industry today. Their newsroom experience can prove invaluable for your media relations campaign efforts.

TAKEAWAYS

How to improve media relations  

MEDIA RELATIONS TIPS

  • Publicists and media relations strategists provide access to expert sources.
  • Journalists write the articles that the public relies on.
  • Publicists and journalists must work together and respect each other’s skillsets in the process of story creation or disaster can follow.
  • Always have a media relations strategy before reaching out to the media.
  • Do your research and know the publication you are pitching.
  • Be relevant and make your pitch newsworthy.
  • Understand the beat you are pitching.  If it doesn’t fit their beat, then don’t send.
  • Don’t send giant attachments that can blow up a journalist’s inbox.
  • Don’t pitch through social media.
  • Check your grammar and don’t use all caps.
  • Be personal and don’t misspell a reporter’s name.
  • Email instead of call.
  • If a reporter is interested they will let you know. Do not incessantly follow up.
  • Pitch solutions to problems.
  • If you have unique interview opportunities, make that the lead.
  • Include high-quality graphics or infographics to share data.

As a result of reading this media relations guide, you have hopefully developed a better understanding of the time requirement it takes for PR, and have gained new ideas on how to write press-worthy content that will actually get picked up by reporters and has a chance of turning into national media coverage success!  Good media relations practices can be achieved by understanding how the media works.

Most companies who retain a PR firm receive no formal training on how to actually work with the firm or how to write content that will get picked up. We hope this guide will better serve you in getting the maximum ROI out of your Public Relations firm.  If you have tried all of our tips and still aren’t seeing PR results, contact us to enhance your media relations campaign. We have a solid track record of national media success for clients in tier 1 media outlets.

BONUS MATERIAL

Still have questions about PR? Curious to know why you need a publicist?

Watch our new video “What Does a Public Relations Agency do?” to learn:

1) What is the role of a publicist for my company? What does a PR firm actually do?

2) What are the essential functions of a Public Relations agency?

3) What is earned PR and how is earned awareness built in public relations?

4) How are media placements in top-tier publications achieved?

5) How do publicists get paid? What do fee structures look like by service in public relations?

MEDIA RELATIONS RESOURCES

The Ultimate Guide to Prepping for Media Interviews 

Insider’s Secrets to Crafting The Perfect Pitch 

10 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Chance of Media Coverage 

PR Don’ts: 11 Ways to Annoy A Journalist 

How To Stay Relevant To The Media 

How To Maximize National Media Exposure 

Pitch Perfect: How To Pitch The Media 

Podcast: How to Use Public Relations with Inbound Marketing 

MEDIA RELATIONS AGENCY SERVICES

There are still things a great media hit can do that nothing else can! One feature interview in the national media could result in thousands of earned media impressions for your business.  Ruby Media Group is primarily a media relations driven agency. Other components of public relations are important, but we believe media relations should be at the top of any strategic public relations campaign, first and foremost.  If you are unhappy with the results you are seeing from pitching the media, it may be time to call a media relations specialist or consultant. Our NY media relations firm has secured hundreds of impressions for clients over the past 12 years in national media outlets. We would love to achieve the same level of success for you and have you be our next shining case study!

Contact us today to discuss a media relations strategy for your business or medical practice. There are many PR firms who focus on community engagement and do not deliver substantial results when it comes to media relations (despite promising to!). We are not one of them.

Click here to see a sneak peek at the numerous PR case studies of earned media wins we have secured for doctors, cardiologists, dentists, dermatologists, and other medical PR clients over the past 12 years.

RESEARCH SOURCES

Census: 6 PR pros for every journalist

Adweek The PR Industry has a big problem

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Public Relations Specialists

PR quotes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pitch Perfect: Pitching the Media

How to get Media & Press Coverage for your business

Secrets, strategies, tools from a PR Insider to help you get maximum media exposure

Hi! I am Kris Ruby. I have been successfully doing public relations for brands, entrepreneurs and doctors in private practice for over twelve years.  In this article, you will learn more about the power of the press for your business. Think about your favorite magazine, trade publication or blog that you want to be in. Can you imagine yourself being featured? Read this article to learn the insider tips, tools, and techniques to make it happen.

Press and media exposure leads to new partnerships, opportunities and speaking engagements for your business.

Instead of trying to find the right customers, clients, and patients, imagine if they found YOU first through the media?

Benefits of PR for your business and medical practice:

  • Get major traffic to your website
  • Get in front of a specific audience
  • Raise your visibility
  • Increase validation and legitimacy from third-party endorsements

Media Pitching Tips from a PR Pro

How can you craft the perfect pitch to a reporter? The truth is, pitching the media is an art and a craft. It isn’t as simple as doing just one or two things perfectly. You have to meet a set number of criteria that depend on several different variables at any given time. In this Media Pitching guide, we break down what you need to know to increase the likelihood of your pitch getting picked up by top TV producers, reporters, and journalists at your favorite publications, newspapers, and magazines!

How do I get the media’s attention?

pitching the media

Think like a reporter. Journalists write about stories that will be helpful to their readers. Producers create segments that are interesting to their viewers. Podcasters create content that is of interest to their listeners. If you want to be covered by any of these media outlets, the key is to think about what is most interesting to their audience.  Develop pitch angles from a journalist’s perspective, not from your own. It’s not about what is interesting to you, it is about what is interesting to them and their audience.

Solve Problems.  Reporters are always interested in uncovering new solutions to current problems that their readers may be facing. For example, maybe you have a unique take on vaping that hasn’t been covered. Propose a solution instead of saying what the problem is. Anyone can share the problem. Your unique perspective as a practitioner and expert source is what is of interest to a reporter. Journalists want to write about topics that will help their readers. Your pitch should be a solution, instead of a way to brag about your company.

Time your pitch with the news cycle.  Be able to answer the question: Why should a reporter write about this today? For example, if you are pitching a story about boating safety, it is unlikely that a reporter will be interested in covering this in the middle of a hurricane warning. Use common sense!

PR Tips & Tricks:

How do you pitch to the press?

The #1 way to pitch the press is by answering the 4 W’s first! So, what are the 4 w’s?

Before pitching a story idea, always be sure to address the following:

  • Why this?
  • Why now?
  • Why should they care?
  • Why should this be covered in the media?

How do you effectively pitch the media?

Making connections with broadcast and print media is vital to the success of your public relations campaign, but as the old saying goes, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” Just because you think you have a great pitch idea doesn’t mean you’re ready to start pitching the media. Before you hit send, here are several steps to ensure that you maximize your chances at scoring national earned media coverage.

HOW TO PITCH THE MEDIA

How do you write a publicity pitch? Follow these tips to learn how to write a PR pitch to editors.

10 tips to maximize your chance of scoring top-tier press coverage.

Write the story you want told. Create a package that journalists can pull directly from complete with high-resolution photos, a bio and a fact sheet.  Reporters want you to write the outline of the story for them so they can pitch it to their editor to see if it would be a good fit. Of course they will rewrite everything you are sending and further flesh out the details, but it helps if you can paint the picture for them of the story you want told.  Use numbers and statistics to strengthen credibility. Most importantly, always provide accurate, factual information. Don’t get blacklisted for providing inaccurate information to a reporter.

PR Tip: Be disruptive. Is your business disrupting the status quo in a specific industry? If so, point that out and show how! 

Pitch the right editor. It sounds simple, but editors and producers move around frequently, and you could be pitching an editor who moved on to another publication six months ago. Take a few minutes to research the newspaper or TV station to make sure that the journalist is still on staff and that you have the right spelling of their name. For example, you’re about to pitch a media outlet a great segment idea about your newest product, but the contact name on your media list is actually the name of the entertainment editor. Make sure that you have the right person for your pitch and their correct email address. Also, don’t assume that the entertainment editor will send the pitch to the correct editor for you.

PR Tip: Sending a blanket pitch to everyone on staff is always a bad idea. Make sure your pitch is targeted to the right editor. 

Watch and read the news. Are you pitching The View? Make sure you’ve watched a few episodes. Are you pitching The New York Times travel editor? Read the section before pitching. Refer back to previous articles the journalist has written to make sure your pitch is focused on what they currently cover. Oddly enough, most people who pitch the media make the mistake of never researching them first. Consume the media like it is your full-time job. Study the publications that competitors are mentioned in and contact those media outlets first. Your story must have “breaking news” value to it. Evergreen content is great for your web site, but not so great if you are pitching the media.

PR Tip: Watch the news. Read the publications that you want to get coverage in.

Time your pitch. Confine your pitching to the media on the days your pitch is most likely to be opened. The best days for pitching journalists are Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Emails sent on Friday will get pushed down by all the other emails coming in on the weekend.

PR Tip: A recent study showed that most journalists prefer to receive pitches in the morning vs. in the evening.

Include a news peg: Make sure that you actually have a newsworthy pitch. Sending an email to a producer asking if they want to do a story about your company with no compelling news peg will land your pitch in their trash folder. Your pitch should include a specific idea and everything the producer will need, including quotes, photos, background information, etc.

PR Tip: Craft an electronic press kit (EPK) well before you pitch the media so that if an editor or producer reaches out, you can easily send it!

Don’t oversell: When pitching the media, leave out the jargon and, whatever you do, do not tell a journalist that you’re the first company to ever do so-and-so unless you can back it up. Also avoid using industry jargon including popular phrases like cutting edge, breakthrough, top, leading, and any over words that will immediately be cut.

PR Tip: Fact check your own fluff and hype!

Write a great headline: Editors won’t click on emails unless the subject line interests them, so make sure you create a compelling one. Oprah Winfrey reportedly received 15,000 emails a day from people pitching various products and ideas. Make sure your story idea stands out.

PR Tip: Ask yourself, “How can I make sure my pitch is read when someone is receiving 15k emails daily?”

Don’t pitch through social media. Facebook and Twitter are great tools to promote earned media coverage, but they shouldn’t be used to pitch editors. Mikal Belicove of Forbes says that pitching him through Twitter isn’t “cool.” Instead, he says in this article, pitch him privately.

PR Tip: Pitch through e-mail instead of via direct messaging on Twitter.

Give Ample Lead time: A Mother’s Day story idea shouldn’t be pitched the week before the big day if you are pitching a traditional publication. Newspapers need a few weeks of lead time while magazines work even further ahead. However, if you are pitching a broadcast outlet, the segment may be put together the day of with only a few hours’ notice from start to finish. Plan your pitch calendar accordingly.

PR Tip: Learn when newspaper deadlines are. Don’t pitch a story an hour before a reporters deadline. Insider tip- Request an editorial calendar through the advertising department to get a look at what stories will be covered for the year ahead.

Do not call reporters. In the past, public relations professionals were encouraged to follow up with a phone call to the media to see if their pitch garnered any interest from reporters. However, today, thanks to technology, editors are so bombarded with calls and emails that the protocol has changed. It’s okay to send one follow-up email, but if you don’t hear from the journalist after that, assume they aren’t interested.  The majority of reporters would prefer to be pitched through email. If they want to move forward, they will either email you or call you back to flesh out booking details.

PR Tip: Pick up the phone to pitch reporters after they have expressed interest in your pitch, not before!

What should a media pitch include?

  • Read the last few months of content the reporter has written (search on Muckrack).
  • Check out the reporter’s Twitter to see what they are currently covering and tweeting about.
  • Understand what the reporter covers, how they cover it and the format they cover it in. For example, don’t pitch a profile piece if they typically write round-up articles.
  • Craft a pitch that mentions their previous work and what your idea is.
  • Tell them why they should cover this idea and how it ties into what they currently write about.
  • Answer the 4 W’s mentioned above.
  • Explain why your pitch is perfect for the publication and why they have to cover it now.
  • Is your pitch time-sensitive? Does it to into a breaking news story? Is this an exclusive? Let the media know!
nyc media relations

 

HOW TO GET FREE PR FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Get more media exposure and backlinks using this free PR growth hack

Our guide on how to pitch the media would not be complete if we left out HARO! Keep reading to learn how to pitch reporters using a free service called HARO.

How can I get free publicity for my business?

If you choose not to hire a PR firm, one of the best ways to get free PR for your business is through utilizing HARO.

What is Help A Reporter Out (HARO)?

HARO is a free publicity tool that connects sources with journalists who are working on stories looking for experts to quote.

HARO is ideal for:

  • Brand building
  • Increasing earned media coverage & awareness
  • Link building
  • Forging new relationships with journalists

 How do you use HARO effectively?

Yes, HARO does enable business owners to essentially act as their own PR firm, but that is really an oversimplification of what PR agencies do. There are many intricacies that go into writing a pitch and getting it placed.

So, even though technology has made the tools available for free to connect with journalists, it doesn’t mean that every business owner has the skill set to write and craft pitches at a higher level and in a way that will resonate with reporters (and that follows best practices).

In order to use HARO effectively, you need to know how to give the reporter what they are looking for.

After responding to thousands of HARO queries and getting hundreds of media placements through HARO, here are my top tips for writing a successful HARO pitch to gain earned media coverage.

How do you write a successful HARO pitch?

1.  Provide substantive details pertaining to the story they are writing.

2.  Do not ask reporters if they want to see more information.

3.  Give reporters what they are asking for.

4.  Provide contact details of the source.

5.  Answer the questions in a timely fashion (and by the deadline!).

6.  Include relevant bullets to break up your pitch.

How to use HARO to get publicity

Ideally, you want to make sure web site visitors from HARO query mentions convert to new leads and customers. The best way to do this is to make sure you are spending time answering the right types of HARO queries versus replying to every PR query in your feed.

How do you respond to HARO queries?

Before replying to a HARO query, ask:

  • Is the query relevant to my industry?
  • Is the query from a high profile site?
    • Hint: Skip anonymous queries.
  • Do you meet all of the writer’s credential requirements to answer the query? If not, skip it!

Should I answer anonymous queries on HARO?

It’s 50-50 and can really go either way. Sometimes, an anonymous query or “cloaked” query can actually be a major outlet, but they have an internal editorial policy, which may state they don’t want someone else scooping up the story and they prefer that their writers not use HARO. That reporter may post the query as anonymous so that technically it doesn’t look like they are using the service.

Another reason the reporter may post the query as anonymous is because it is from a much smaller site and they know that no one is going to answer their query if they say, “This is for my hole in the wall blog that no one has ever heard of.” It’s really a gamble!

PR-Checklist Before Pitching the Media:

Before you click send, review the following in our 5-step media pitch PR checklist:

  1. Write the story you want told. What is your dream headline? Write it!
  2. Consume the news. Read the publications that you want to get press coverage in.
  3. Time your pitch with the news cycle.
  4. Make sure your pitch is targeted to the right editor.
  5. Proof your pitch in Grammarly and Microsoft Word.

Pro Tip: Want to increase the click-through rate on your PR pitches to media? Editors are more likely to open email pitches with subject lines that mention the media outlet and topic because freelance writers work for so many different outlets.  Make sure the subject of the email pitch is relevant to the query and create compelling titles.

WANT MORE PR SECRETS?

DOWNLOAD: THE BEST WAYS TO GET FREE PR FOR YOUR BUSINESS

How To Pitch Journalists

Still curious about how to pitch the media like a PR pro? We understand! PR can be overwhelming and staying up with breaking news is a full-time job! Our PR firm is constantly monitoring the news cycles to look for opportunities to tie our clients into the news so they can just show up and provide quotes! We do the hard work for you. You supply us with the answers to reporters queries and let us work our PR magic and do the rest! Contact us today to learn more about how we can craft successful and engaging media pitches for you to score you massive earned media coverage in regional, national and medical trade publications.

How to Pitch the Media Resources:

Make sure your story gets picked up with these additional resources on pitching the media! 

Media Pitching 101 Webinar

Media Relations Guide

*Date last updated 2020 

Media Relations Guide


Blogging for Business

 

Content Marketer NYC kris ruby

How do you write a successful business blog?

Communicating with customers, patients and business partners is the key to new business success in our increasingly digital world.  However, doing so effectively can be a daunting process, especially at the beginning!

Blogging is a great way to build authority, credibility and search engine rankings.

The goal of a blog is not to blog for the sake of blogging.

Your blog should ideally help new people find you who don’t already know about you. The goal is for them to find your content when they are searching for an answer to their problem. You want to be the answer! The knowledgeable resource who can solve their problem.

In this blogging for business guide you will learn:

  • My top tips on how to get started blogging
  • How to keep blogging after you have gained momentum and traction
  • A free SEO checklist for your blog

Why should your small business have a blog?

A blog is a great way for small business owners to connect with clients, increase search engine optimization (SEO) results and get your content found by key prospects.

According to Inside View, research shows that B2B marketers who blog generate 67% more leads than those that do not.

Other research shows that business websites that have a blog with more than 20 posts per month get five times more traffic than those who blog significantly less (less than four times per month). Blogging should be a critical part of your ongoing communications strategy.

Companies such as Whole Foods, IHG, Starbucks and YouTube all have blogs. Their content is consistent with the brands’ key messaging and includes thoughts from the CEO, recipes, and even travel tips.

Benefits of Blogging for Small Business & Medical Practices 

What are the benefits of blogging for small businesses, lawyers and doctors?

  • Enhanced page one of search results (SEO)
  • Increase search visibility for keywords (SEM)
  • Get found by reporters (PR!)
  • Build brand authority and subject matter expertise (thought-leadership marketing)
  • Enhance company reputation as a leading expert (online reputation management)

BLOGGING FOR BEGINNERS: HOW TO GET STARTED

What is business blogging?

Business blogging is the practice of distributing thought-leadership content that ties into your larger B2B digital marketing goals and objectives.  The goal of blogging is to drive potential customers to your website and keep them engaged with your content.  Ultimately, you want to convert business blog readers (leads) to customers through an inbound marketing strategy.

“Your blog should be a personalized expression of your brand.”- Kris Ruby

TARGET AUDIENCE MARKETING: WHO ARE YOU REALLY WRITING FOR? The RMG Rule of 3

How do you create content for a target audience?

When you think about content marketing and blogging for your business, there are three audiences you are writing for.

Audience 1: New customers, patients, clients

Audience 2: Existing customers, patients, clients

Audience 3: The Media

Each blog post that you publish should always address someone in one of the three buckets. For example, this article can be used to reach all three audiences? How? Well, a doctor who is looking for help with medical marketing could find me from this blog post. I could also share this blog post with a current client that wants to further understand content marketing while I am developing a strategy for them. I would rather send them to a resource I have written on the topic than direct their attention elsewhere, so it is a win-win! Third, the media can see that I am a knowledgeable expert on social media marketing and content marketing from this post. If they are looking for a source in this area, this article clearly achieves that purpose that I know what I am talking about if they are doing background research on me. If you publish a piece of content that does not fall into any of these 3 buckets, it most likely has zero value for your practice or business and should be deleted.

How to write a blog post to promote your business

Your blog should be targeted towards prospective customers, clients, and patients and it should answer questions prospects have when researching other companies to work with.

Before you start a business blog, ask yourself the following questions to formulate a strategy:

  • What will the decision-makers want to read in our target audience?
  • What do you want to be positioned as?

Tip: Create content around specific keywords related to your business or medical practice.

Tip: Do keyword research before you write an article, not after.

Put yourself in the shoes of the target audience.  What are they searching for on Google?

CONTENT FORMAT

How do you structure a blog post?

What content format is most appealing to your target audience? For example, busy professionals may want to hear a podcast during their workout or commute whereas prospective patients may want to read a long-form written article.  If you are a chef, a step by step listicle or video would be more applicable.

Types of content can include:

  • Podcasts
  • Written articles (long-form content/ blogs)
  • Videos
  • Listicles
  • How-to Guide
  • Slideshow (SlideShare)

HOW TO WRITE CONTENT PEOPLE WANT TO READ

Look at the type of content that ranks. Is the format different than the format of your article?  For example, does the content appear in a featured snippet and people also ask box? Or does video content rank? This will give you a good clue as to how you should format your content. If you were thinking of writing a listicle, but Google ranks a podcast or video in the top search result, that should give you a clue about how people want to consume the answer to this information. You have to listen. Look at what is already ranking, and learn from it. Make it better, but do not reinvent the wheel in terms of the type of content and format of content that works best.  Is your article objectively better than what already ranks in Google’s top ten search results?  The goal is to rank for closely related keyword search terms.

Ideas for your B2B business blog

Maybe you want to be positioned as a key opinion leader on consumer behavior.

If you are a digital marketing agency, your target audience would be CMO’s at large companies.

If you are targeting CMO’s, think about the content they are searching for on Google.  For example, you could write a blog post that says, “We have conducted some research on your target audience that you might find interesting.”

For a coworking client we worked with, we created a “spaces” section, which included a picture of the coworking member’s office space and how they utilized the space in a new and visually exciting way. Readers enjoyed seeing real-world use of the space and gained inspiration from the posts.

Other blog topics for a client in the coworking space could include:

  • Personalizing Your Office Space
  • 5 Best Practices of Successful Business Owners
  • How to Stay Focused When Working Alone
  • Travel Tips for the Everyday Businessman
  • Conducting Casual Meetings: How Casual is Too Casual?
  • Affordable ways to decorate your office

Their blog included tips such as: how to work from home, office space trends, business travel, new member of the month spotlight interviews etc.

The key is to write content that is interesting to the people you want to attract in your sales funnel.

What is Search Intent? And why is it important for your content marketing strategy?

Does your content meet the searcher’s intent? This is the #1 most valuable key takeaway from this whole blog post. You must learn to optimize anything you write to answer this question. Your URL must match the topic you are writing about. Things must correlate together to meet the searcher’s intent.

The keyword and topic must ALWAYS match the searchers intent.

Google knows if you are achieving this objective after observing the bounce rate. This is why keyword stuffing is essentially useless. If you are on page one of Google for a search term, but the bounce rate is high, you will not remain in Page 1 for long, because Google takes bounce rate into consideration when it comes to ranking. They want to give people two things: the best content that matches the searcher’s intent AND a good user experience. This is why they prioritize things like AMP, speed, HTTPS and mobile-friendly sites. User Experience matters just as much as the words on a page do when you are trying to rank. If your content is great but the user experience is poor, your chances at ranking will always remain low. You have to think about breaking up your text with visuals and graphics to keep people on the page for longer. Write for humans instead of robots, but also make sure your content can be understood by both.

Does your article give searchers what they are looking for? Or does it lead them on a wild good chase?

What is the searcher intent behind the keyword? Ideally, you want to try to rank for “buy” terms that show a user is a few steps away from buying a product and is far along in the sales process. Someone searching for “NY doctor” has a different search intent than someone searching for “NYC allergist Waccabuc NY who accepts insurance.” See the difference? One is broad and is most likely a window shopper. The second is someone who is optimizing for someone who is ready to “buy” and choose a provider.

  • Visual instruction with a video?
  • Explanation with words?

Make data-driven decisions

Data and user behavior signals show what people want. Listen!

What content will satisfy users on all levels? It is important to remember that people learn differently. While text may be ideal for some of your audience, the other half of your audience may only be interested in listening to your content on a podcast while they are commuting. A one-sized approach does not fit all when it comes to content marketing in the 21st century.

Blog growth strategies: Checklist

Prior to clicking publish, make sure you can answer the following:

  • Will marketing decision-makers read this or want to read this article?
  • Is this consumer-centric content? B2B or B2C?
  • Who will this content appeal to? Does this content truly appeal to my target customer?
  • Is this content useful?
  • Would someone want to link back to this article or blog post?
  • Is this content sticky/ evergreen? Is it timeless?
  • Will this advice be useful one year from now?
  • Does this content solve a searchers problem?
  • Have I left every stone unturned? Or will someone still have more questions after reading this?
  • Does this article cover the full depth of the topic?

How can I use blogging to promote my business?

Blogging is a powerful inbound marketing tool to promote your business.

The key is to use blogging as a way to attract prospective clients into your funnel.

Pro Tip: Create content about your target audience that is most relevant to your prospective clients.

BUSINESS BLOGGING 101: How to build a successful business blog

How do I come up with content for my blog?

Start writing down the questions you are most frequently asked. Then, write content around it. Be sure to do keyword research on the search volume to make sure your posts are optimized around topical phrases people are using to search for content in your industry.

Blogging for the sake of blogging is a mistake most business owners make. You must do keyword research before you start blogging instead of after or you will be wasting your time and resources.

Remember: What you find interesting may not be what your target audience is searching for. This should also be done in step one of building an integrated marketing communications plan for your business.

PRO TIP: Research the search terms people are using before you start writing!

How does blogging help your business?

FACT: Google rewards fresh content.

Google favors web sites that consistently put out fresh content. What does this mean? Writing high-quality content and updating old content to increase the user experience should be a top priority in any business content marketing plan. Blogging is the #1 way to make Google happy, as long as you are blogging high-quality content. Posting a bunch of thin content less than 200 pages will not make Google happy and will lead to a high bounce rate.  The content you put out must be high quality in order to have a chance at ranking. Thin content will not rank. What is thin content? A blog post that is 200 words is an example of thin content.

Your blog content must be substantial. Typically, long-form content that is greater than 1,000 words has a much better chance of ranking on page one of Google search engine results. One key tactic (and secret weapon!) to consider for business blogging is the strategy of historical optimization.

Tip: Deeper coverage of a topic leads to a higher search volume and a greater chance at ranking.

What is historical optimization?

Historical blog post optimization is when you go back to your old blog content and update each post to make sure the article has fresh and relevant content for your readers. This post is an example of historical optimization.  We originally wrote it a few years back but optimized it this year to make sure it is in line with best practices and the questions people are searching for!  Are your older articles targeting the wrong keyword? Optimize for the right keyword through historical optimizations and updated keyword research.

Optimizing your blog content for Google

Knowing what people search for around a specific topic will help you to create better topic clusters. It also leads to more useful content for the people searching for it. That is the magic of keyword research. It isn’t just about ranking or keyword stuffing. It is about fully exploring the depth and scope of a topic in entirety to answer every possible question a searcher may have about a topic that you may not have thought of.

What pages rank for the keyword you are trying to rank for? Update your article with more relevant search queries. People’s search patterns change over time. Plus, with the increase of voice search and artificial intelligence, people will be using different phrases to search than they are when they are typing them. Consider this when you are updating your content.

Is there a topic you can expand on?

  • Study the keywords competing web site pages rank for.
  • What do they rank for but your page does not rank for? This could be an opportunity.
  • Add a few paragraphs in your article to add value while inserting those keywords.
  • Study popular searches relevant to your main query.

BLOG TOPICS: WHAT SHOULD I BLOG ABOUT?

Blog Tip: The best source for new content topics for your blogs is the questions your clients already ask you!

What questions are your prospects and clients asking you? Write them down.

This is a critical component of developing your blog strategy.

If your client or patient asks you a question, they know they need more information on it and can’t find that information online. Jot down the question and turn these questions into a blog. Then, send them the link!

Develop an adequate resource guide to answer the questions your clients have. Take advantage of this opportunity to develop content that people actually want to read!

ACTION TIP:

Have you provided strategic insight that will help your prospect or end-user solve a problem?

Yes! The problem or pain point I helped my prospect solve through this blog post is _________________________

HOW TO CREATE A SUCCESSFUL BLOG STRATEGY

What should a blog post include?

Every blog post should include keywords, images, infographics, answers to questions your prospects have and rich media content.  It should also include extensive keyword research and optimization. Here are some great free keyword research tools to help you get started. When you are doing keyword research, you want to closely evaluate a few critical factors including:

  • Monthly search volume
  • Search traffic potential of a topic
  • Ranking difficulty
  • Domain Authority of page 1 search results

Free keyword research tools:

The best content is….

  • Authentic information with the inside scoop
  • Information you can get from your customers
  • Data/ key insights from industry experience
  • Stories on the people/clients/sources you have unique access to

Here are ten more tips to creating a successful B2B blog for your business:

  1. Create an editorial content calendar: Don’t just wing it. A schedule of topics and deadlines will keep you focused and allow you to build up momentum and followers.
  2. Know your audience: Who are you trying to appeal to? Write to that audience. If you’re trying to reach customers, do not use the blog to talk about employees or company news (use a press page for that). Write only about what is important to your prospects and what they want to read.
  3. Link your blog. Discussing key trends in your industry? Link back to a previous article you wrote on the trend. Be sure to link articles, discussion posts, and tweets to your blog to increase traffic to the site.
  4. Create a blog roll: Add relevant industry blogs to a blog roll on your site to direct users to other viewpoints on the topics you are writing about. Add these blogs to the “blog roll” to show strategic alliance and to get on the radar of the bloggers you want to impress.
  5. Invite a guest: A blog serves as a personalized expression of your brand and will serve as a platform for the company. You can encourage employees and members to contribute to blog content. In turn, they will often help to promote their content and, as a result, bring more readers to your blog. You can also invite experts in your industry to guest blog. This is great for increasing backlinks for SEO and positive link juice!
  6. Share helpful information: Maintain a balance between posting unique content and sharing content from related blogs to your industry. All of your content should address the pain points of your target audience.
  7. Update frequently: Your blog should be updated at least several times a week and should continually include tips, articles, industry news, etc. For example, if you design office spaces, then post inspirational ideas and create a contest for a customer. Readers will repost and re-tweet contest information and provide feedback on the ideas.
  8. Integrate SEO keywords: You want your blog to make its way up the Google rankings. To do that, you need to insert Search Engine Optimization (SEO) words into the copy. Learn what keywords you want to rank for and optimize accordingly.
  9. Promote your blog: Tweet a link to your blog post, talk about it on Twitter, send out a teaser in your newsletter, mention it when you do interviews and put your blog address in your e-mail signature line.
  10. Keep tabs on your progress:  Google Analytics will provide key insights into click-throughs, who is reading your blog, and what posts are most popular. This is extremely important when you are planning an editorial calendar. For example, if you are writing for a 30-50-year-old audience, but the majority of your blog readers are in their 20s, you need to tweak your content to their media preferences. If you are spending a ton of time writing content that isn’t getting high traffic, you may need to alter your content calendar accordingly. Remember, you are writing for your audience first and foremost.  The content that they want to read may not that be what you want to read.

Screen-Shot-2014-10-21-at-5.46.18-PMBottom photo Credit: Hubspot

Blog Promotion Tip: One of the best ways to build buzz for your article is to include interviews with well-known subject matter experts who will promote your content once you click publish. Leverage their built-in networks and fan base to drive traffic to your article. The more they promote your link, the more SEO juice you will build.

Pre-Publishing Blog Post Checklist

    • Have you clearly defined the goals of your content marketing strategy?
    • What is the main topic of your blog?
    • What are the subcategories of content for the blog?
    • What SEO keywords do you want to rank for?
    • Who is your ideal reader and prospect that you want to optimize content for?
    • How often will you publish new content?

BLOGGING FOR DOCTORS

Our NYC PR agency specializes in healthcare PR and we handle quite a bit of blogging for doctors, so this post would not be complete without covering this critical area!

Should doctors blog? The importance of blogging for your medical practice

Yes! Every doctor should blog. Content marketing is a critical factor in the pulse of a medical practice. People want to see your thoughts around topical health-related issues in the news. Blogging is a free way to establish yourself as a thought leader and share your opinion in a public forum. Plus, it can score you major SEO points if you optimize your content!

HOW TO GROW YOUR MEDICAL PRACTICE WITH A BLOG

Why every doctor needs a blog

If you are a physician who is serious about blogging, you need to start blogging. It is non-negotiable. Social media networks come and go in popularity, but healthcare content marketing is here to stay. Blogging falls under the “owned” media category. The ROI on blogging is substantial for your medical practice. One high-ranking piece of content can be a great source of lead generation for your medical practice for years to come!

How often should a doctor blog?

Doctors should blog at least once per month depending on their patient schedule. If you aren’t putting out new blog content for your medical practice, you risk Google seeing your web site as a fresh source of content.

PR Blogging Pro Tip: Write tip-oriented blogs or listicles that can also be used to pitch the press to assist with your Medical Practice PR campaign.

BLOGGING FOR DOCTORS AND MEDICAL PRACTICES

Ask us about our healthcare content marketing services for doctors, dermatologists, and plastic surgeons! Our medical clients always write the meat of the article, but we handle the rest! This includes content optimization, image sourcing and turning interview answers into blog posts. Contact us today to inquire about our highly coveted medical practice marketing blogging services for your healthcare practice.  If you are a medical professional who is interested in medical ghostwriting services, let’s talk.

P.S. You should never hire someone to ghostwrite for you. However, you should hire someone who can edit your content so that it is still coming from you, but it is also optimized for search engines.

HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR B2B BLOG FOR SEO 

It is no secret that Google prefers long-form content. Just look at the first page of the SERP’s for any target keyword. You will rarely find a top-ranked page on page 1 that is less than 2000 words.

Use your keywords throughout the copy of your blog but be sure not to keyword stuff. Measure keyword density and use variations of your target phrase.

Higher Click-Through Rates (CTR’s) can often be attributed to more compelling titles!

Consider creating clickable blog graphics with free information to keep people on your B2B blog for longer. If you are not a graphic designer, don’t worry! You can use Canva to create stunning visual graphics.

FREE BONUS!

Blog Post SEO Checklist

  • Is your blog post more than 2000 words?
  • Have you used your target keyword in the headline?
  • Did you add in keyword tags and select the proper category?
  • Did you use keywords in Alt tags?
  • Did you include your target keyword in your H1 tag?
  • Did you remember to use the keyword in the image file name?
  • Did you use the primary keyword in the page URL?
  • Did you remember to add internal links to pass link juice and page rank?
  • Did you use an on-page SEO checker or plugin like Yoast to make sure the content is optimized for search engines?
  • Did you update the meta description with relevant keywords?
  • Did you run your copy through Grammarly and Microsoft Word to check for grammatical errors?
  • Do you have CTA’s clearly written out at the end of each blog post?
  • Did you remember to break up long paragraphs of text?
  • Did you add images to break up text?

WHAT TO DO AFTER PUBLISHING A BLOG POST

Make sure the “about the author” is included at the end of each b2b blog post.

B2B BUSINESS BLOGGING CONTENT MARKETING RECAP

Longer blog posts rank better if you are trying to improve your search rankings on Google.

Embed social media content into blog posts and consider adding rich media and videos too.

Add sub-headers to break up content and use bullet points and numbered lists to break up the text.

Include visuals to make your B2B blog more engaging.

Link to valuable resources within your blog and cite all sources.

Consider promoting other influencers and key opinion leaders in your blog content to drive traffic.

Link articles, discussion posts, status updates, and tweets to your blog to increase traffic.

Keep blog posts informative and relevant for fans to be engaged with the content

Encourage employees to contribute to blog content.

Invite industry experts to guest blog.

Maintain a balance between posting unique content and sharing content from related blogs to maintain credibility.

FINAL THOUGHTS: 

Compelling blog content can bring new customers, clients, and patients from Google directly to your web site.

But the key question is: what do these visitors do when they land on your web site or blog? Can you keep their attention, or do they bounce?

See, it’s not just about getting the traffic. It is about converting the traffic into paid customers, clients or patients. Ranking for the sake of ranking is virtually useless if you are ranking for terms for products unrelated to the services you offer.

For example, our web site ranks high for “Kimora Simmons” and “buying and selling Instagram followers.” That’s great that we rank for those terms, but who really cares? We do not offer services related to either of those search terms.

Think carefully about the search terms you want to rank for before you start writing content.

Search engine traffic potential is not the same as business potential.

FINAL STEP:

Ask your friends what your article is about. If they can’t tell you what the article is about in one or two words, how can Google figure it out? If humans can’t navigate your article, how do you expect robots and web spiders to be able to?  Would you email this article to a friend? If not, it probably is not that valuable. If you wouldn’t genuinely email your article to a prospective client, current client or member of the media, rewrite the article until it meets that criteria.

CONTENT MARKETING AGENCY SERVICES

The truth is, even if you write award-winning content, authority and credibility still have a huge impact on the content you create and the ability for that content to rank. When Google is determining E-A-T, they are measuring authoritativeness, trustworthiness, and expertise. All of these are core public relations functions. When you look at, “Who is the most qualified person to write an article?” Public Relations services can instantly boost your perceived credibility in a digital landscape and can position you as the most qualified person in the eyes of Google. That is why digital PR must become a part of every content marketing strategy. Content marketing without digital PR is like a fish out of water. It just doesn’t work or make sense. If you are looking to boost your credibility, contact our content marketing agency in New York for a consultation.

Who is the most qualified person to write the article? (Hint: This is where a PR firm can help you!!)

 

Did you enjoy this post? Click here to read our post on Inbound Marketing.

*Date last updated 2020 

RESOURCES

How to Craft Effective Content Calendars

 

About The Author

Kris Ruby is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, a public relations agency in Manhattan. She is an award-winning and seasoned content marketer with over 12 years of experience. Kris has completed the AHREFS Academy Blogging for Business course and handles content marketing for private medical practices, bestselling authors and Top NY Doctors.


5 Misconceptions About Publicists & Public Relations

What does a PR firm do?

A publicist is responsible for generating exposure for your company and brand. Publicists help define your corporate public “persona” by crafting story angles, pitching stories to the media, coordinating interviews with journalists, writing fact sheets and electronic press kits, keeping updated media lists and monitoring your public image. Additionally, publicists help to craft that image and pitch strategic messages and storylines on behalf of you and your company to the media.

However, there are many misconceptions about what publicists do and how they do it.  Plus, there are misconceptions floating around about why you should hire a PR firm in the first place. My favorite one is, “You only need to hire a PR firm during a crisis.” That couldn’t be further from the truth!

PUBLIC RELATIONS MISCONCEPTIONS

Here are the top 5 misconceptions you need to understand about PR professionals:

PR MISCONCEPTION  # 1

Publicists have a….

MAGIC ROLODEX.  Clients believe that their publicists have a magic Rolodex that they scroll through. While the traditional Rolodex has been replaced with email lists and texting, the theory still remains the same. Publicists cannot email, call or text an editor and automatically get a story placed. That isn’t how real PR or journalism work. The publicist may have a very close relationship with a journalist, but if the story has no legs, there is breaking news, or the journalist simply doesn’t like the story idea, it’s not getting placed, and it doesn’t matter if you hired a Park Avenue PR firm or if you pitched the story on your own. The newsworthiness value of the story is all that matters. Breaking news dictates the storylines, and publicists pitch stories that tie into the news cycle. It is not the other way around. The media dictates what is covered- publicists do not.

PR MISCONCEPTION # 2

Publicists live a….

‘SEX & THE CITY’ LIFESTYLE. Another misconception is that publicists go out every night to events and are surrounded by glitterati and a Sex and the City lifestyle. As a publicist, I spend the majority of time in front of my computer writing, editing, pitching and communicating with clients and the media. Every time I am at a networking event, I could be missing an important email from a journalist who may be requesting an interview with my client or needs answers to their questions within the hour. This public perception of publicists going to glamorous events every night is outdated and unrealistic. Perhaps it is true in entertainment PR where red carpet events still reign supreme. But corporate and healthcare PR? Not so much.

PR MISCONCEPTION #3

Publicists… 

CONTROL THE STORY.  After you are interviewed by a journalist from a print outlet, the interview is done. Sometimes the media will have follow up questions and you can go back and forth several times. However, you cannot take back what you said, so be sure to think carefully before you shoot off a quick email or provide a sound bite.  As a general media relations rule of thumb to live by, when in doubt, keep it out!  Publicists can’t take your quotes off the record.   If you say something to a reporter that should have been off the record (or not said at all), we can’t fix it unless we are close with a reporter and even then there’s no guarantee. If you don’t want something in print — don’t say it. This is why media training is so important. Additionally, please don’t ask your publicist to ask the reporter to see a copy of your quote before it runs. This is not standard practice and the answer is most likely a resounding no. Earned media is not the same as paid media. You have to earn it for a reason.  When you pay for media, you control the narrative. When you earn media, you do not control the narrative, and neither does your publicist. They can certainly pitch an angle, but after you speak to a reporter, it is up to the journalist’s discretion on what the story is. Remember, it is their story, not yours! You are a source that adds subject matter expertise to something they are reporting on.

PR MISCONCEPTION #4

Publicists can…

FIX  REPORTING ERRORS. Occasionally, articles are published with a source’s name spelled wrong or some other minor error. You may think, “If my publicist was any good, they could get the reporter to fix the spelling of my name!” That’s not always the case. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  If the print edition has already gone to press, nothing can be done except for a correction that will run in a future issue. Any time I have asked a reporter to fix the spelling of a client’s name in a digital article, the request ends up annoying the reporter. In the old days of journalism, everything was fact-checked several times before it was published. Today that is unfortunately no longer the case with the rapid pace of digital journalism and the increased demand for content. So yes, while some publicists may be able to get the spelling of your name corrected, it is not guaranteed. It depends on the outlet and their editorial policy with corrections, not on your publicist’s ability.

PR MISCONCEPTION #5

Publicists can…

CONTROL GOOGLE SEARCH RESULTS. People often ask if we can change Google search results for their company or personal brand. Perhaps one bad story or review tanked their corporate reputation, and they now want a publicist to fix it. A public relations program that incorporates organic earned media coverage does have the ability to alter search results. However, this is a long-term effort, and it is never guaranteed because it depends on so many outside factors including the domain authority of the sites that new coverage is secured on, and most importantly, the domain authority of the sites that the bad press is written on. Often, if those sites are ranked high, it becomes very difficult to lower the results, regardless of how many earned media placements you secure. Additionally, a digital advertising campaign and paid media would have to complement the PR efforts as part of the long term reputation management campaign to alter search results. Publicists can make a valiant effort at getting more positive coverage for you, but the one surefire way to change search results is through Google directly (or with the help of a good attorney that specializes in defamation).

Why is the practice of Public Relations misunderstood by the public?

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation put out there by PR firms trying to close new clients on the power of PR. Yes, PR *is* powerful and can do wonders for your brand, but you need to understand what is in a publicist’s control, and what is far out of their control. It does everyone a great disservice to make claims that cannot be supported. Some of these claims include PR firms who are promising to guarantee press coverage.

If a PR firm guarantees a set amount of press placements per month, run! That is not how real journalism or PR works!

So the real answer to this question is that the practice of PR is understood by the public because the media shows an overly glamorized portrayal of what we do and because publicists guarantee all sorts of things they shouldn’t and are not held to a standard of ethics that virtually every other field is held to.

Can you imagine going to a doctor that promised to cure cancer?

Or a lawyer that promised to win your case?

So why would you ever believe a PR firm who promised to get you a set amount of placements or bookings per month?

You pay a publicist for their time, strategic insights and work deployed on your behalf.

Results are an outcome of that time, but PR firms cannot guarantee those results simply because the stories they pitch are in the hands of editors/ producers. The only person can control results when it comes to PR output is the media, NOT a PR firm! If you understand this, your expectations will be more realistic and you will be happier with the results of your campaign.

PUBLIC RELATIONS MYTHS

Myth #1: PR is no longer relevant to my business because traditional media is dead.

Fact: Traditional media is still relevant, and digital PR is a burgeoning area that not only helps your business and credibility, but is also a critical ranking factor for Google’s E-A-T quality guidelines for building authority.

Myth #2: PR firms are too expensive. We can do it ourselves.

Fact: You know what is even more expensive? Trying to do PR yourself and getting sued. Plus, your time is limited. Why waste it pitching yourself when a PR pro could do it for you?

Myth #3: My last PR firm was terrible so all PR is worthless. 

Fact: Maybe your last PR firm actually was terrible. But does that mean every other PR firm in perpetuity will also be terrible? No. Stop judging an entire industry because you had a bad experience.

Myth #4: We don’t have a good PR story to tell, so our results will be terrible if we hire a PR firm.

Fact: Leave that up to the magicians to determine to see if you have a good story to tell before you take yourself out of the race entirely. Your story may be better than you think if someone could properly package, pitch and promote it for you! Hint, that is what we specialize in!

Myth #5: PR will drive thousands of sales, clicks and leads overnight. PR will make me rich overnight!

Fact: PR is better for brand awareness.  In certain circumstances, direct marketing may be better for driving new leads than PR is. Yes, I said that as a PR firm agency owner. Why? Because I want you to be an informed consumer before purchasing PR services. Also, PR will not make you rich overnight.

Myth #6: The media will accommodate my schedule. I am giving them great content. They are lucky to talk to me!

Fact: The media doesn’t work around your schedule. You will always have to move your schedule around to accommodate the press, not the other way around. The media has 100 other people who are all dying to talk to them and would love the digital ink space you are trying to get.

Myth #7: I should be paid for my time to speak with the media if I give them a quote for a story or appear in a segment.

Fact: Some people believe that they should be paid for their time to speak with the media. This is not how the media works!  Any time money is exchanged, that is called paid advertising, not public relations. No one is going to pay you to answer questions or speak with reporters unless it is part of a larger agreement with a network and there is an agreement in writing.

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PR Key Takeaways:

PR is ideal for keeping your brand top of mind with peers and prospective clients. However, if a business relies solely on PR and media relations to generate sales, they are setting themselves up for failure.

PR is not about hiring a firm and handing them a pile of cash to push a narrative you want told to the media. It is about hiring a practitioner who you trust to tell the narrative that they believe will get the best traction in the media.

The Truth About Public Relations

20 things I want you to know about how public relations really works.

I have secured hundreds of thousands of media impressions for clients in local media, national media, broadcast media and trade publications. After 12 years in the PR industry and hundreds of emails with reporters, and handling PR for clients in a number of different verticals, here is what I want you to know.

  1. Publicists act as the buffer between the media and clients. This is for good reason.
  2. We know how to deal with reporters. You don’t.
  3. Yes, we got a client on Rock Center with Ann Curry once. Just because that happened, doesn’t mean we can get you the exact same thing. Ann Curry no longer even works at NBC. Comparing press coverage between clients is comparing apples to oranges. No two press placements are the same.
  4. Stop demanding the press coverage you think you deserve. The media and market dictate what coverage you deserve. You don’t. And your PR firm doesn’t either. We can get your story to the media, but we don’t control what the media finds interesting or newsworthy.
  5. If you genuinely want to get more media coverage, that starts with you. Most PR firms will kill me for saying this, but the onus is on you to be more interesting. Are you publishing research studies with data the media would want to use? Do you have a robust content marketing program? Are you putting out rich content the media would want to use? Instead of asking your PR firm, “Why is the media not covering me?” Ask yourself, “How can I be more interesting to the media by being a more interesting human being and doing more in my field?”
  6. Have confidence in the firm you hired. If you don’t trust them to do the job, don’t work with them.
  7. Tell your PR firm what you want. Adequately set expectations from the get-go instead of being disappointed you didn’t get what you want. No one knows what you want unless you vocalize it at the start of the engagement, not at the end, after you fire your PR firm!
  8. Start local and build to national. Not the other way around.
  9. Provide access to your top executives. What is the point of hiring a PR firm if everything you say “that is off the record,” or if your CEO refuses to speak to reporters? Don’t ask to be on INC. 5000 but then not publicly disclose your earnings report. We must have access to key leadership to do our jobs properly. That includes you giving us all pertinent details, not only the glowing details that make you look good, or that you want to share. If you want to be in the media, you lose the choice of what gets disclosed.
  10. Your marketing timeline has nothing to do with your PR timeline. Stop trying to make it happen. Reporters work on their own time table. Not on your CMO’s timeline around your product launch.
  11. Stop with your pretend deadlines. Just because you want the story to run before you leave for Mar-A-Lago, doesn’t mean it actually will!
  12. Do not ask us when the story is coming out.
  13. Public relations takes time. If you want results in 30 days, consider paid advertising or direct marketing instead.

Publicist of the week Kris RubyLooking for a publicist who understands how the industry really works? Skip the line or trial and error by working with a publicist who has 12+ years of securing earned media impressions and major PR wins for clients. Plus, Ruby Media Group’s CEO was recently named “Publicist of The Week” by Women in PR. We know how to place major media impressions that convert to real results for your business. Contact us to today to turn your PR dreams into reality. 

 

 

 

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