Shall we publish it? Post it? Print it? Tweet it? Or Pin it? Does it require links, likes, retweets, or +1s? Gordon Kelly reveals the technologies that PRs should know how to use and, more importantly, when its best to use them.
The boundaries are blurring. Never before have journalists, PRs and consumers had so many ways to publish, consume and promote news. If you meet someone who tells you they have mastered them all, the polite term is ‘they need better PR’. Quite simply the machinations are bewildering and ever more complex strategies are inspiring indecision as much as, well… inspiration. That said there are general rules and, for the most part, they are simple, logical and far too often forgotten:
It needs publishing
Your news is actual news. PRs know how to categorise this far better than they’re given credit. Poor pitches are predominantly caused by losing a battle with the client, which journalists interpret as stupid PRs – so don’t lose!
The print verses digital debate rages on and while digital’s ability to show up in search engines means a longer tail, print retains (however falsely) greater gravitas. Print needs exclusives and NDAs to stay in touch, so make sure you provide them. Digital is about speed, so releases that say what isn’t available (price, release date, etc) as well as what is, saves journalists time spent on needless follow-ups. When successfully published feel free to link, tweet and post about this as much as you like, you’ve earned it.
It needs sharing
Publishing comes via the filter of a journalist or title, but when your news is unlikely to catch their eye the key is going direct. Facebook pages build consumer loyalty, especially when enticed with competitions and prizes, but beware: journalists largely hate being contacted while they’re organising their holiday snaps.
Twitter is the place big companies do tech support and smaller ones reach out looking for contextually relevant user tweets, but announcements are a flash in the pan unless you pull off the holy grail of getting your topic trending. Still, journalists are happy to be contacted using Twitter and it gives an invaluable gift – this is what this journalist is thinking and needing now.
Pinterest and Instagram work best for announcements with a visual flair and Foursquare when there is something to visit – tie in prizes and something (anything) free to get the public flocking.
It needs sponsoring
Let’s face it, some things simply aren’t going anywhere unless you pay for it. Google ads, occasional sponsored Facebook posts (don’t do too many unless you want consumers to leave you in droves) and contextual advertising (sales teams still pressure editorial to review products from major buyers) all have their time and place.
In these economically stretched times advertorials also don’t carry the stigma they once did, especially if they are informative, educational and stay away from the biggest faux pas: self promotion. Competitions with titles are warmly appreciated as well, again don’t push for editorial flattery and don’t do it unless you can offer good prizes to get the attention of the title and its readers – offering too little is an insult.
It needs intelligence
Variety is the spice of life and it is also the spice in successful promotion. Relentless press releases, social media blitzes and uninspiring giveaways deliver only diminishing returns. Categorisation and contextualisation must be the first stage of analysis for every client proclamation and request. Set off on the wrong path and it is typically too difficult or too expensive to correct. Lest we forget the problem with the Information Age is too much information and, in a time when news aggregation king the RSS reader is considered too much of a time suck, getting the message and medium right first time has never been more important.
For the discerning PR a planet of always-connected consumers and journalists is the richest of bounties, but faced with endless choice the attention spans of both have never been shorter.