Maybe back in 1982 getting a press hit in a national magazine was the “be-all and end-all” of media exposure, when PR agencies devoted entire days to pitch calls and press kits were painstakingly snail-mailed.
Well, it’s not the 80s anymore. Welcome to the new wave of PR, where social media is integral to any effective communications plan, online media is just as important as print media, and the key to a successful pitch depends on how captivating your email’s subject line is.
If you’re thinking about hiring a PR agency or if you already work with a publicist, there are five truths you must accept about the way PR works today. Out with the old and in with the new, everything has changed.
#1 Print media is no longer the Holy Grail.
Of course print hits are still coveted, but with the volume of print publications diminishing — magazines and newspapers — these hits are now few and far between. Which brings us to the new coveted media: Online. Nurture it, cherish it, accept it. We know that you still think magazine hits are the only ones that matter, but here’s the truth: they aren’t.
Swallow your ego and do not discount the power of an online hit, be it a post on a fledgling blog with 300 readers, or an online powerhouse with hundreds of thousands of readers. When your PR agency sends you hits on blogs you a) have never heard of and b) may not think are important, think again. Because if you’re not on it, a competing brand will be.
All it takes is one reader to tell their friend, who then shares with their friend and so on – the word-of-mouth publicity chain begins. In today’s competitive marketplace you simply can’t afford to lose out on visibility, even on the smallest blog. It is crucial that your brand has an all-encompassing presence over the web. Accept the fact that online press is just as important as print press, and you’re on your way to a successful PR campaign.
#2 You Must be on Twitter and Facebook
No if’s, and’s or but’s about it. If you’re not leveraging your social media network, believe me — your competitors will. Why give them the advantage of additional visibility?
Don’t be so naïve to think Facebook and Twitter are something only a few people use, or that they don’t apply to your target market. According to eMarketer reports, by 2013 Facebook will be used by almost 50 percent of the U.S. population. You need to be where your consumers are to run a successful business, and they’re actively using social media.
#3 Hang up the phone, Everything is Digital
No, your PR agency will not be making phone calls pitching a story or snail mailing press kits. And no, this doesn’t mean your agency is lazy. It means that times have changed.
The right media relationships are critical to your brand’s long-term success. Generally, the press prefers emails and digital materials over phone calls and snail mail. Do you like it when you get random cold calls from people you don’t know? No. Well neither do journalists. An editor can read through an email in a fraction of the time it would take to hear a publicist ramble over the phone.
Come prepared to your agency with materials they can use: PDF look books, catalogs, a digital image catalog, etc. Please don’t come to us with 100 folders you want us to stuff and mail out. It’s not going to happen.
#4 E-Commerce is Essential
If you’re a product or good, it’s essential to have an online sales presence. If not, via your own website at least through a reputable online retailer. Online press won’t run you unless they can link directly to where consumers can make a purchase.
Not only is online media crucial to your PR plan, but this is also where your customers are. Are you a store or service? You better have a solid website where consumers can go for reference – there’s just no excuse these days.
#5 Short Films are the New Ad Campaigns
As if you didn’t already have enough to think about, now there is the emergence of short films – especially in the fashion industry. While I don’t think releasing a film is crucial yet to a brand’s existence, I do think it’s the next “must do” thing to stay current, reach influential tastemakers, and present your brand in a unique and interesting way your competitors may not have caught onto yet.
Stay ahead of the curve. Just because something worked before, doesn’t mean it’s going to keep working. A successful PR campaign is about adapting to strategies that work now. Accept that PR is an ever-changing landscape, be able to go with the flow, and please – listen to your PR agency.
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Photo Credit: © Tadija Savic
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