You’ve spent time getting to know your target audience and to understand the challenges they are facing.
You’ve worked hard to identify an issue or angle that you know will capture their attention, and showcase your expertise or ability to solve a particular problem.
You’ve crafted insightful content around this ‘hook’ in the form of press releases, or an engaging video, or attention-grabbing infographic; and you’ve identified the most appropriate contacts and channels via which to distribute these assets, whether that’s journalists, bloggers, website editors or relevant partner organisations.
If you’ve undertaken this process effectively then you’ll enjoy the buzz of seeing your content take on a life of its own, in the form of press coverage, or online discussions and social sharing.
I’ll always remember a colleague exclaiming with delight many years ago that there’s nothing quite like the smell of fresh press coverage in the morning, and while the nature of that coverage may have evolved over the years to include digital conversations, the essence of that statement remains true. It really does feel incredibly rewarding when someone else deems your story interesting enough to publish, share and debate.
But that shouldn’t be the end of the story. Coverage for coverage’s sake is merely elaborate ego stroking. If you’re engaged in any kind of public relations activity then you need to have a clear idea of how you want your target audience to react, and what action you want them to take as a result.
Put yourself in their shoes. Does the coverage, or the write-up from a respected blogger, or the content they’ve stumbled across on their favourite social networking site make them want to take action? What’s the nature of that action? Is there a specific website they can visit, or a phone number they can call? And, equally as importantly, how will you track those actions?
If the aim is to raise brand awareness and drive traffic to your main company site then are you confident they’ll find what they need when they get there? They might be interested in buying your products or procuring your services, or it could be a speculatory visit to inform future buying decisions. Either way, their expectations need to be immediately fulfilled. If it takes longer than a few seconds to understand your organisation, or find the information they’re looking for, then you’ve lost a potential customer.
To give an example: there’s absolutely no value in targeting a new market if your website doesn’t talk in their language. If you’ve previously focused on SMEs but have recently decided that larger companies are a valuable audience then it’s essential to consider the specific tone and content that will appeal to these contacts.
Structure your home page so it’s obvious where people should go next depending on who they are, and continue the journey to make sure you’re engaging them effectively. That could be encouraging them to share their details in return for exclusive content, signing up for a newsletter or requesting a call back. Do your absolute best to capture their interest in some way, or at the very least to create the impression that you can deliver what they need, now or in the future.
If you take these considerations into account when planning PR activity then you’ll minimise the risk of simply shooting into the wind, and create the right foundation from which to achieve true ROI from your comms budget.