You know that sinking feeling – you open up an influential trade mag, and there it is: the big feature story with your nearest competitor smiling back at you from all the photos, proudly showcasing their latest gizmo while standing right in front of a 6-foot high version of their company logo. Maaan. How come them, and not you?
When you see your cheery competitor showboating in your favourite mag, it is worth considering that they are unlikely to have gotten there by chance. Behind every story, someone somewhere has usually put in a hard shift of pitching, prepping and scheduling. It is very rare for an editor to simply pick a name out of the directory or from their chosen search engine, and email them to canvass their views or promote their new product.
The trick I think is to view company events or milestones through a PR ‘prism’ – in other words, to think like a PR. By their nature, all good PR people are optimists, and so they view everything their company does as a PR opportunity to a greater or lesser degree.
Evaluating PR opportunities is an important job for anyone undertaking the PR role. A good way to discern what does or doesn’t offer a media opportunity is to ask yourself whether you would bother to read it if it was about one of your competitors. So: new products, funding, key personnel hires, important awards – these can all be interesting to other market participants. New websites, packaging, logo, office space, internal events and anniversaries – maybe less so. Remember, press releases should be used sparingly – less is more - and there really is nothing more desperate than a company trying make news out of nothing.
That is not to say that this second group of events is without PR value. Almost every company milestone can be turned into a PR opportunity of some sort – not always for the media, but definitely for different audiences. To take some examples: important company events can be press release or other media opportunities for the wider industry, while other milestones: work anniversaries, new offices etc., can be turned into events for your team, customers, contractors or prospects.
Identify which they are, and act on them. If there is a press release to be written, get it done, and get it out there. Don't let the opportunity pass you by - real press release opportunities don't come along that often. Equally, if there is an important internal event, this might be worth marking internally - with dinner perhaps, or a company night out. There is a great deal of value to be gained in inviting key customers and prospects and your team out for an informal night out - everyone loves an invitation, and everyone loves to feel valued. Again though, less is more - a programme of forced camaraderie will likely achieve the very opposite of what it sets out to do.
A key role of the PR is to perform these simple tasks - identifying the opportunities, evaluating what type of opportunities they are, and acting accordingly.
Think like a PR to get PR.
(Pic: Blasket Sunset)