The New (Old) Face of PR

Posted by: on Nov 8, 2011 | No Comments

Whether a small business or a large corporation, technology has enhanced our capacity to push information, thought leadership, and media releases to thousands of potential media distribution channels enabling those of us in marketing to touch a broader audience than ever before in our history. Because services like PR Newswire and PRWeb are readily available and affordable as a solution for both small and large businesses, you might speculate on the end of an era for the PR professional. But that could not be further from the truth.

Although those types of distribution services perform a real function in putting your press release online with keyword-savvy content for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), they don’t replace the relationships that a true PR professional takes years to cultivate with editorial teams. In fact, the SEO-centric copywriting necessary for online distribution is somewhat contrary to natural language, reading, and the kind of sassy headlines that propel your press release to featured placement in publications.

While you can review many educational and free whitepapers and articles on public relations, and hone your writing craft according to recommended guidelines, without consideration for the relationships, you will face challenges in getting your general business news published. Now, certain types of news are always going to get picked up… charitable giving or recipients, community-oriented activities, kids, and pets. Even stories about an individual’s promotion, speaking engagement, or award are relatively easy to gain local coverage.

Just as you think of your reader as a target audience, so too, should you consider the editorial team to be a target audience? Introductions to the editorial team must be crafted with the same consideration as the actual press release. Editors use a discerning eye to bring their readers content that supports the reputation of their publication. The onus is on you to research their style, content, and trends to make your press release resonate with the current buzz and even their upcoming editorial calendar of topics. In fact, personal engagement means a great deal, and meeting the team at an industry event or even at their offices could prove invaluable to your ongoing efforts to be a pivotal contributor to their publication. Sometimes marketers have to stop focusing on the end customer, and focus solely on the audience who can most influence the buying decision of the end customer. In extremely sales-centric cultures, it can be difficult to provide the necessary emphasis on public relations. But those efforts are worth so much to the sales team by providing brand positioning, audience recognition, audience softening, and credibility.

Online, the impact of a single press release doesn’t end with a single publication. With online publication, we have the opportunity to reference an article over and over again thanks to Social Media Marketing and email marketing. We can use those instances of success to build a credible brand presence and extend our digital brand footprint.

As a Chief Marketing Officer, most recently at Brinton Eaton, I have the opportunity to work with many PR professionals, some more tech-savvy, and some who embody an “old-school” vested interest in relationships with editorial teams. With time, my appreciation and admiration for their talents has certainly grown. Anyone can learn to use an online tool. But there’s a certain tenaciousness required to develop relationships and consistently deliver media coverage – a pursuit of placement that is both aggressive and respectful. The true professional knows these boundaries.