Early on in my in-house career, a well-known, well-respected communications professional shared a mantra with our team: "Repetition doesn't spoil the prayer."
Whether you've heard this particular saying or others -- "Repetition is the mother of all learning," "Practice makes perfect" or "If there's no repetition, there is no rhythm" -- the meaning is powerful and oh so true. And not only for communications professionals but for top executives and company spokespeople.
Some may be familiar with the Rule of 7, one of the oldest concepts in marketing, which states that consumers must hear or see your message at least seven times before they will buy from you. There are other similar approaches around repetition, whether it is the controversial 10,000 hours of practice to become world-class in any field or 21 days to make/break a habit. But the concept remains the same: repetition is key.
Sure, we've all gotten annoyed by the annual song of the summer that is on repeat everywhere you go or that same commercial that just won't stop playing, but you can pretty much bet that whether you like it or not, you know all of the words to that obnoxious song and you know exactly what brand or product was being pushed.
Now the examples above aren't the best or even the recommended approach to getting your message across but they show that repetition of your message is critical. Your executives and spokespeople, along with your sales teams and even your interns should know the company's one liner or elevator pitch. What does your company do? Why is it important? Why should anyone care?
Once you have those responses down to a succinct and powerful sentence or two that isn't long winded or put people to sleep with too much jargon...
REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT.
Press coverage of your company is important for a variety of reasons. Living in a data driven society, however, we tend to look only at the numbers, in this case, the number of articles and not what's in those articles.
We need to shift our thinking away from quantity and focus more on the quality.
Focus needs to be put on several factors including:
You might be stoked for a front page feature article in the business section of a top tier daily newspaper, magazine or blog but if your company/product/executive is being associated with a negative topic, does it deserve the same value as a positive mention in a smaller, more targeted publication that all of your prospective customers, partners and investors read?
It's time to focus on quality over quantity.
As we are always asking our clients for their predictions for the new year, we felt it was only fair for us to adhere to our own recommendations and share our own predictions. Here are a few things we think will happen in the world of PR in 2018:
What are your predictions? Did we miss any? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Unless you've been hiding under a rock, suffering from holiday withdrawals, you have probably seen or heard something about The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that started in Las Vegas over the weekend. This annual conference and exposition gives companies of all sizes the opportunity to show off their latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos to an international audience of hundreds of thousands. But over the last few years, it has continued to grow, expanding beyond its original "consumer electronics" scope to include pretty much anyone and everything somewhat related to technology.
CES is a big show for anyone touching technology, especially journalists and PR professionals. And with thousands of journalists, editors and analysts on the show floor, as well as the amount of time, money and energy spent to exhibit, speak and just attend the show, companies and their leadership rightfully want to see healthy returns on their investment.
This is the question that occurs not only around CES but with all major conferences: is it worth attending? And more importantly, is it worth making our big company announcements at the show?
The answer to these two questions, from a PR perspective, varies widely. There are a lot of variables to consider as you make these decisions, especially when there is so much time, money and energy at stake. Here are a couple of things to consider:
Again, every company, announcement and conference is different, so it is important for the team to come together and understand what the company's objectives are in advance of committing to a full PR campaign centered around an industry conference. Sometimes it is totally worth the effort, but not every time.
A new year means a fresh start, which can be both exciting and nerve-racking. It is like a fresh sheet of paper -- clean, undisturbed and full of possibility yet daunting, as that first mark/letter/word can direct the where everything goes from there.
While PR programs can and should be continuous from day to day, month to month, year to year, giving your team the opportunity to review and reset with the beginning of the year is important. We all tend to make resolutions with the beginning of the year, why not make some for your PR program?
Here are a few ideas and suggestions for possible PR resolutions for 2018:
Set realistic goals. This one can be tough as we all can get eager and overly ambitious on what is possible but in order to keep morale and energy high across the team and leadership, it is important to get expectations at the beginning of the year.
This doesn't mean you should sandbag your KPIs, but rather look at what can reasonably be accomplished with your current staffing scenario, budgets and other resources. It is also important to set a few stretch goals alongside what you think it totally possible. How can you and your team go above and beyond if the stars align?
What are your resolutions for 2018?
It's November 1. How did we get here already?!
The year has flown by but rather than panic about what has yet to be done, it is important to focus on what can be accomplished with the remaining two months of the year as well as what can be prepared for the year to come!
July. Yes, we are now over halfway through 2017.
Frightening, isn't it?
Where has the time gone? With most communications programs, it usually has been taken up by reactive and urgent projects. Occasionally, you are able to sprinkle in a few proactive and long-lead activities if you are lucky.
Regardless of where your time has gone so far, it is important to reflect and prepare. Similarly to how you need to prepare for the upcoming year, take stock in what's working (and what's not) and adjust accordingly.
A few things to think about: Have any of the themes and priorities changed for the business as a whole or an individual segment? Have any of the stakeholders changed? Has the product roadmap or merger/acquisition strategy shifted at all?
What's going on with the competition? Have there been any major shifts or milestones in the industry?
What's important for customers and partners at this stage in the year? Have their priorities changed at all? Are your messages resonating with prospects?
While consistency is important in any communications program, there is no point in continuing messaging or campaigns that keep the team spinning without true results or just don't resonate. Take the rest of the summer to reflect and adjust the program for the remainder of the year.
Content is king. No one disputes that.
There are more than 1.2 billion websites on the internet (and counting). YouTube currently reaches 1.5 billion users each month and their users consume roughly an hour of videos per day. More than 300 million tweets and 2.2 million blog posts have published today alone. Snapchatters watch more than 10 billion videos per day.
But with so much content out there -- from articles and video to infographics and social media -- how do you get your content to stand out from the rest?
Mike Isaac of The New York Times made a few good points the other day on Twitter about blog posts.
This same perspective can be used across pretty much all platforms -- social media, blogs, press releases, videos, infographics, etc.
We need to start being more thoughtful about the content we are producing and publishing. Yes, an announcement might be important to us as a company or to a partner or customer, but we need to acknowledge who our target audience really is and what channels are most appropriate to reach that audience.
Maybe a Tweet, Medium post or short post on the company blog is sufficient to get the news out to a particular audience this time. There might be another time where it does make more sense to push a stronger communications strategy including embargoes or exclusives. But we need to set expectations.
Reporters, just like our customers, partners and investors, are all inundated with content throughout the day. We need to cherry pick the right moments to share information that is relevant to them. They will appreciate the information -- and the company -- much more for it!
To have the most success with your PR team, you need to communicate with them.
This may seem like common sense when said out loud or written down, but then again, common sense isn't necessarily common.
Communication is critical to any successful communications program. The team needs to know what is going on with the company, products, customers, partners, leadership, etc. They need to be aware of both the positive and the potentially negative. Believe it or not, PR professionals are not mind readers nor can we create press coverage with a snap of our fingers.
To get the biggest bang for your buck on a positive announcement or to help prepare for any negative new cycles, the team needs to be given a heads up well in advance when possible. The whole "need to know basis" approach helps no one if your communications team isn't in the loop. Now, it doesn't have to be the whole PR team but at least someone from the team should be aware of what is going on.
Schedule weekly check-ins with your PR team to ensure that everyone is on the same page about hot topics, worry basket issues, the latest on product announcements, customers wins, etc. The more information the communications team has and the sooner it gets the details, the more prepared and successful they can be when it comes time to make an announcement.
Always be prepared. Always communicate with your PR team.
We all want press coverage. That's just natural.
But as we've discussed here before, not all press coverage is good. And not all press coverage will drive your overall business objectives. Which is why it is absolutely critical to be strategic on where you and your team invest time and resources as it pertains to media relations.
As a small start-up (and this can be the case for larger organizations too), your reaction may be to take any and all inbound press opportunities. But it is important to ask yourself what impact that story could have on the business.
Is that outlet's audience our target customer demographic? Do our investors read that publication regularly? How has that blog covered our industry and competitors in the past?
Not only complete the due diligence on all inbound press inquiries to make sure they are worth your communications and leadership teams' time, but also do some proactive research to ensure your teams are on the same page around priorities.
What outlets are "must-haves," meaning they cover your industry and competitors regularly and are a must-read for your customers, partners and investors? What publications would be "nice to have," meaning they are stretch goals for the business either because they are top-tier (and everyone wants a mention), tend to cover just outside your industry, or cover a very wide range of topics?
Create your lists and then work backwards on what storylines might work for those particular publications and what pieces of the puzzle (metrics, customer testimonials, third party research, etc.) you might need to place the right story.
But do your research and make sure story opportunities are going to help drive your business objectives, not just get a story for the sake of getting a story.
Welcome to ROAMings, a compilation of thoughts and musings about the PR and media industries. This is an opportunity to discuss the “here and now” of the industry, interesting events or case studies, pivotal moments that affect how we approach PR, etc. It isn’t about brand loyalties or preferences -- and we will not be publishing self-promotional materials or talk about our clients in this setting -- but how those brands, individuals and events are leveraging (or in some cases abandoning) PR.