Improving your public relations strategy doesn’t have to be a time- or money-consuming affair. Taking on some easy tasks and implementing some simple ideas can lead directly to generating good publicity and improving your existing public relations efforts. Here are seven tips to get the most out of your public relations budget.
1. Keep Your Press List Updated
Although I haven’t been a working journalist in several years, I still receive plenty of email pitches from public relations professionals. If I’m still on a press list, how accurate is the rest of that list? Various services offer access to continually updated media databases, and if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, interns will surely love updating a press list by hand.
2. Join a Professional Networking Site
I have a hard enough time managing my social relationships, so I’ve stayed away from professional networking services. Recently, however, I’ve found myself on LinkedIn.com — one of many professional networking services — reconnecting with old business contacts, as well as old high school classmates who have moved onto jobs in my industry. Interestingly, I’ve seen a number of journalists using the service to solicit interview subjects and sources, including a reporter who does tech stories for the local NBC affiliate in New York City and a freelancer working on an article for Entrepreneur. I love these type of “low-hanging fruit” opportunities.
3. Tap Your Co-Workers for Public Relations Ideas
Being the only member of my company’s public relations “department” often means that I’m left to formulate and implement all public relations strategies. This is not an easy task, especially considering that public relations is one of my peripheral duties. My company’s principals offer up public relations ideas on occasion, however, and they have some very good instincts. Recently, I asked all of my co-workers to help out with some public relations ideas and to offer up some of their own. I was pleased with the response, and I was gratified to learn that everyone, from the salespeople to the tech guys, had some understanding of public relations. Interestingly, the best new public relations idea came from our part-time customer service representative. We’re working on putting it into action now.
4. Collaborate With Your Customers
Many of my company’s clients are hedge funds, which means they are prohibited from marketing. This makes it difficult to attract investors, particularly for new hedge funds. Knowing this, I recently contacted some of our clients to see if they would be interested in extending their public relations opportunities. The pitch was that these hedge funds could get some publicity in exchange for publicly acknowledging that they use our product. I’ve received some positive responses and some disinterested responses. (Hedge funds are notoriously press-shy. ) But I’ve also yet to receive any negative responses. My business may not be the best to implement this strategy, but there are plenty of opportunities where companies can work with their customers to engineer good publicity for both sides.
5. Clean Up Your Online Press Area
I’m still constantly amazed at the poorly managed online press areas that seem to satisfy many companies. A poorly constructed online press area will turn off many journalists, especially if finding contact information is difficult. My company is in the process of overhauling its web properties, and we’re working on improving is our online press area. Remember to include background information on your company and key executives, so that lazy journalists can grab boilerplate copy.
6. Hire Interns
Students are always on the prowl for internships. Interns can help you with tasks such as building media lists, but they can also infuse fresh perspectives and ideas into your company and public relations campaigns. And a good intern can eventually turn into a good employee. Please, if you hire interns, make sure that the experience is worth their time as well as yours. Interns are there to learn and they should be treated with respect and encouraged to ask questions.
7. Recharge Your Batteries
On a recent vacation, I went on a road trip with some friends. For six days, I didn’t have to talk about work, or worry about email, or answer the phone. I came home energized with new ideas, and embarked upon my most productive six month period yet.
This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.