My company, for example, has exactly one person dealing with PR issues – me.
I do all the pitching, handle all of the inbound media requests, prepare all of the press releases, train all of our editors and analysts on how to speak to the media – and I actually do about 95% of the interviews myself. Today alone, I spoke to a wire service reporter on a breaking news story, an online journalist, and a foreign newspaper reporter all before noon. I also have a radio interview at 7:00 PM EST tonight.
It has taken me a while to get a handle on dealing with my limited resources and all of my PR duties, but I have come up with some simple rules to get me through the day.
1. Prioritize: Certain media outlets will get my undivided attention because they reach my company’s target audience. I give these media outlets preferential treatment because I’d trade one piece of ink from them for ten pieces of ink from other media outlets. They get responses first and I work closely with them to ensure they receive the information they need as quickly as possible.
2. Be Honest: I ask that journalists be patient and understand that we don’t have a large PR department. I am very upfront about when I can go over details with people (my company is in the business of analyzing data, so I often have to spend a long time on the phone explaining things) and try to get the journalist to work around my schedule, not his or hers. This may not work with every journalist, but I have to prioritize who gets my time and when they get it.
3. Plan: At the end of each week, I create a PR plan for the following week. I sketch out what I hope to accomplish and when I hope to do so. I create a schedule where I set aside blocks of time to make/return calls and send/reply to emails. I also ask certain co-workers about their schedules and whether they will be available to help. Stuff happens and I can’t always stick to the schedule, but just putting it together helps me maximize my time each week.
4. Always Be Working: When I have some downtime at work, I update my PR lists, template pitches, boilerplates, etc. I’d rather do this when I have some time to spare than on-the-fly when I need to get something out the door. Advanced preparation is huge when you have slim resources. It will save you a lot of time and stress.
5. Interns: I hired an intern last year and will do so again this year. My intern proved to be a valuable resource as he helped write and distribute press releases and prepare me for various interviews by collecting data and information. He was inexpensive and a huge help, especially when I had to do a series of television appearances over a four-day period. He got important experience, a stipend and college credit out of the deal.
6. Remember, It’s a War, Not a Battle: It took about six months for us to start generating the type and quantity of PR that we wanted to generate. I was lucky because my bosses understood that because of the limited resources they gave me, we would need to build up our PR profile and not try to go for the gold immediately. Our patience has been amply rewarded.
Last year, my company doubled the amount of ink it received compared to the previous year, scoring over 500 press hits, including eight television appearances and more than two dozen articles in The Wall Street Journal, our key media outlet. We did this utilizing a part-time PR person, a lot of common sense and just a little elbow grease. There’s no reason that even a one-person PR team shouldn’t be able to match those results on a comparable basis.
Ben Silverman was previously a business news columnist for The New York Post and the founder/publisher of DotcomScoop.com.
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