I rarely do yoga, but I found myself in a studio last week, stretching out my hamstrings and listening to the instructor softly speak about acting with intention. What is your intention in this moment? she asked. What is your intention for the day? In everything you do, act with intention.
This was some pretty good advice that went beyond becoming more limber. After some reflection, I realized it applies to pretty much everything in life—from holding a meeting, to grabbing lunch with friends or getting media placements (aka, public relations).
After all, public relations is merely a way of communicating with others with intention—thinking before you speak and knowing your audience. Acting with intention with public relations means having a PR strategy.
Don’t have a PR strategy? Here are the 6 key components.
You know you want some media placements, but stop for a moment and think about why. What is your ultimate goal? Is it to build credibility? Sell books? Boost thought leadership? Boost business? This information will guide you in honing your message and who you want to spread it to. If possible, try to put numbers or guideposts onto this goal, e.g., you want to sell a thousand books in the next six months.
Okay, you want to sell books or get more clients. How do you do this? By telling them people they should buy your book or collaborate with you. Aim to make your messaging short and simple, believable, memorable, distinctive, credible, and key to driving your agenda. Think: What makes you different from your competitors or unique in your industry? What expertise and experience do you have that benefits your potential customers? What’s your story? Why are you doing what you do? Take these answers and package them into an elevator pitch.
You know what you want to say and why. Now, who do you want to say this to? Do you want to reach human resource trainers or aspiring entrepreneurs? Pinpoint your target group. These are the individuals or groups that have influence and decision-making power over your products or services. Then, investigate key media outlets that these folks read. Google can be your friend here. Visit each media site to ensure it is still active and a fit for your target audience. Then, write out this list.
Now it’s time to investigate who to pitch at these outlets, e.g., editors or writers. If you cannot find the info online, call their newsrooms and ask who you should pitch to. (WI subscribes to a media directory to get updated info in our back pockets.)
Also for consideration in your strategy is what you want to pitch. Are you looking for contributed articles? Or do you want broadcast media? Do you want to spread the word of your new book with a press release or just targeted pitching? Are you comfortable with speaking about hot news topics to get your expertise out there, even though it may be a bit off topic? Do you want to do the pitching yourself, or do you want a publicist to handle it? Do you want to send books to media or share PDFs? Do you need a press kit? Other PR tactics for consideration include email newsletters, social media campaigns, blogs, and public speaking.
You figured out what you want to say and why, who you want to say it to, how you want to say it—and, you’ve said it. You’ve pitched media or put out a press release. Now what? It’s time to keep track of your efforts and outcomes by going back to your goals. Did you sell any more books? Get any more business leads? PR successes can be a bit nebulous. After all, it’s difficult to draw a line from someone reading an article to then going online and buying a book. If you have some key performance indicators, you should be able to identify whether your PR efforts have lived up to your intention.
Whitney is the public relations director at WI. She started her career in communications as a TV news anchor/reporter in Virginia and Tennessee before switching to public relations. Whitney earned her bachelors in government at Georgetown University, and masters in PR from the University of Tennessee. She enjoys spending time with her family in Knoxville, TN, and running competitively.