Public relations can be a very powerful tool in your marketing belt. Often, however, it is an afterthought, while it should actually be one the first things you tackle as you develop and bring to market a new product or service. Begin planting your PR seeds early in the game.
The mantra of your public relations staff should be the Integrated Marketing Communications idea. Their most important function is to ensure that everything the press sees or hears is controlled and is consistent with the image plan. It is therefore recommended that only your PR people actually communicate with the press. This includes all areas of PR, such as corporate announcements, defensive PR, and marketing PR.
PR won't just happen. You have to work at it, plan it, and execute the plan. There is a whole set of tools for public relations and publicity, just as there is for advertising. These include:
- news releases
- feature stories and interviews
- opinion pieces
- speeches or appearances at seminars, conventions, etc.
- local, regional or national talk shows and other programs
- online chats and forums
- community involvement
- lobbying activities
- social responsibility activities
There are two elements to a PR plan:
- What you want to communicate
- A hook to make it newsworthy and interesting
Use this section of your marketing plan to determine those two pieces of information. Here are some strategy ideas for types of information to communicate to the press:
- Prior to your product release, submit sneak previews to the press.
- Find a good spokesperson to help promote your product.
- Find the right angle for your press release.
- Include both trade press and consumer press.
- Build the excitement (hype-up) in your story by finding a new twist on the information.
- Offer co-sponsorships for media to events you are planning.
- Create your own scheduled media blitz.
- Schedule press releases so that various media sources publish information that builds on itself and progressively includes new tidbits of information.
- Build your newsworthy info on one of the product's benefits used in its positioning.
- Develop an interesting and fun idea centered around your product's release or upgrade.
Write out your PR strategies for your marketing plan and include specifics. Remember, this section will act as the guide for scheduling, which we'll cover next.