PR Support: How to make the media talk about you
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How can a business remain in the spotlight when there's nothing newsworthy happening? And what can a small company do to attract attention from the media?
The answer lies in the technique of PR support. It's a marketing tool that gives great results even during the most routine periods. Who can benefit from PR support, how to get free placements with major outlets, and how we do PR support at BDCenter Digital – you'll learn all this and more from our article.
PR support vs. a PR campaign: understanding the difference
Let's start by analyzing the differences between these two promotion methods. We've identified them based on our own experience working with IT and fintech projects.
The point of PR support is not telling the audience about a specific event or product. Rather, it's constant, methodical work to promote the brand – even in the absence of newsworthy events.
When do you need PR support and not just a PR campaign?
1) Long buying cycle. In some B2B markets it can take a customer months to select a contractor or seller. While the potential client researches the available options, calculates the budget and makes a decision, the seller must remain visible and and make regular appearances in the media. Possible examples are IT companies, consulting & marketing agencies, equipment manufacturers, etc.
2) Keeping in touch with existing customers. There is a range of services that people use with regularity: mobile networks, banking, travel insurance, and so forth. In all these areas, switching to a different provider is very easy. Therefore, companies have to keep reminding their clients about their existence. This is done through cyclical 'touches' – articles, new initiatives, surveys, and so on.
3) Reputation-dependent industries. These include high-risk, high-competition markets like crypto exchanges, asset management, startups, etc.
PR support tools
In this section, we will use our own agency as a case study. We will show how a small company can frequently appear in the media. Turns out that you don't need a huge marketing budget, an eccentric founder, or a spot on the Forbes Global 2000 list.
1) Internal events
Any important event in the life of a business – a product launch, a partnership, entering a new market, etc. - can be used for promotion. Even if your company isn't called Apple and your internal news as such are of no interest to the media.
You should prepare a press release about the event in any case, even if it only gets published on your own website and in your social media channels. It serves to build up your image among your clients, investors and future employees – people who don't necessarily follow all your updates, but at least skim through them on occasion.
You can also try to pitch your press release to the media. But before you start, answer the following questions:
Will the event impact the industry as a whole;
Is it unusual or extraordinary in any way?
Are you offering something useful to your target audience?
Is it something your readers really need to know?
If you can't answer 'yes' to at least one of these questions, you have very little chances to get your piece published for free. If you do give a positive answer, you have to make sure that the journalist or editor sees the importance of your story from the title and first sentence.
Back in 2018, we decided to add mobile app developers to our client portfolio. We wrote a press release saying that we were looking for mobile app startups – and promised a $2500 PR bonus to the best contender.
The press release appeared in both regional and international outlets.
The press release did its job. We reached out to the relevant market and obtained our first client in the mobile apps segment.
2) External events
When there's nothing particularly interesting happening to or within the company, you can still remind the media about yourself. The best way to do this is to use the industry trends and news that your audience is following.
In the summer of 2019, Liquid exchange announced an IEO of the TON project (that is, Telegram tokens). The news caught, and before long over 3,500 articles on this subject had mushroomed across the web. As a blockchain PR agency, we were curious to analyse how the news spread and what sort of results it produced.
Our research resulted in a study that was covered by Hackernoon and several Telegram channels. As a result, we extended our outreach and got a few fresh leads.
3) Exclusive & useful content
Try to think what sort of useful and/or exclusive information you can regularly supply to the media. It can be market research, sales statistics, or insights about emerging trends – anything that helps understand where the market is going.
We frequently conduct blockchain and fintech market research. Before submitting our findings to the media, we offer the study exclusively to the outlets on the top of our priority list.
Our survey of crypto traders featured on Cointelegraph
This way we boost our expert image, get new leads, and form a database of potential clients for our mailing list (an email address is required to download the full study).
4) Expert commentary
Journalists frequently contact experts to help write in-depth articles. There are even specialized websites where media professionals publish requests for expert commentary. The most popular resource of this type is Help a Reporter (HARO).
The objective is to establish yourself as an expert who can provide timely, relevant, and valuable comments. Here are the steps to achieve this:
Build up your media contacts. Get in touch with a journalist who writes about your industry. Start with social media: add the journalist as friend; send them a message and explain how you can be useful to them; follow their publications and comment on them.
Work on your professional brand. Start an expert column or blog, participate in conferences and comment on important events in your field.
When a journalist contacts you and requests a commentary, respond as soon as you can, especially if it's on a trending topic. Remember that they've probably asked several other experts the same thing. Examine the issue from different angles and try not to be banal.
For instance, after the launch of the VK Coin token BDCenter Digital strategist Dmitry Levkovets commented on the event for rb.ru.
5) Blogging platforms
Blogging platforms have a big advantage over traditional media websites: you can publish your content yourself and free of charge, without having to worry about publishing schedules and editor approval.
If the readers like your story, the platform can help promote it further – for instance, include it on its digest or feature it in its social media. But you should also work on promoting your piece yourself. For example, you can get it covered by relevant Telegram channels or place a targeted ad.
In January 2020, we published a reputation management case study on vc.ru.
The readers liked our piece – they actively read it, commented, and bookmarked it. We decided to maximize the effect by launching a $44 targeted ad.
Facebook advertising campaign results
As a result, we got 6 new reputation management leads. An important thing to understand here is that the effect of an article can play out over a long period. We've had cases when case studies brought us leads 6 months after publication.
Key blogging platforms we use
VC.ru. - all things business and investing.
Medium. All sorts of subjects. Medium features 96 content categories, ranging from books and art to blockchain & tech. To get featured by one of the popular publications, a story first must be approved by an editor.
Hackernoon. Focuses on tech. You need to register to submit a story, and moderation is pretty strict.
6) Communicating with your readers
Your work on the story doesn't end once it's published. It's important to monitor readers' comments and respond to them in a way that will help promote your company. Here are a few tips:
Respond quickly – preferably on the same day. With social media, your time window is even narrower: according to statistics, 42% of users expect a reply within an hour;
Personalize every reply – even when responding to near-identical comments like 'thank you';
Answer questions and thank users for their feedback – both positive and negative. When working with negativity, remember that your response will be read not only by the commentator, but also by other readers. Don't bother replying to trolls and spammers, though;
Always be polite and professional. Don't give in to emotions and stick to the point. Keep in mind that you represent your brand.
PR support helps a business maintain visibility even when it has nothing exciting to offer to the media. For maximum effect, we also use the following tools:
- SERP monitoring: we track all mentions of the company or brand in order to take urgent measures if any negativity appears;
- SEO: helps your PR support content rank better;
- SMM and community building: by engaging your audience in a dialog, you can turn neutral or casually interested visitors into loyal supporters.