Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Roger D's tips for superior public and media relations: Getting started...

As a public relations (PR) professional, I see a lot of edgy cross-chatter about my field in the blogosphere, and while I don't feel it's worthwhile to get into any of the e-debates, occasionally, something will get under my skin. That happened a few weeks ago when Rohit Bhargava wrote a piece on his Influential Interactive Marketing blog with the subject line of "The Future of PR Means Dumping The Inferiority Complex." Rohit backed-up his antagonizing claim by writing that PR is rising in importance at least in part because "...it is about more powerfully articulating where a client needs to go and becoming the partner that gets them there." Next week, I will be off on vacation with my family, giving thanks for a sensational 2007; due in part to this virtual jab from Rohit, the process of gathering my thoughts for this post has led me to realize that my knowledge, expertise and talents in the field of public and media relations definitely are worth shouting about. I regularly hear from both established and emerging entrepreneurs seeking my counsel in promoting their businesses, I have the respect of the unique businesspeople who retain me to support and strategically promote their endeavors -- as well as many influential journalists, media executives and pundits -- and I count among my close friends other PR professionals whom I consider to be America's best. At the same time, even if there is abundant evidence for well-crafted PR campaigns contributing significantly to the success of many businesses (among them, my clients), PR is an area of business that is not generally well understood. New seminars, workshops and books are offered constantly to try to enlighten people on its tenets and practices, and with the number of creative industry professionals who contact me expressing interest, articles like the recently published "The Art of PR" from Digital Arts are obviously very important. With this as my paradigm, I have compiled a practical list of tips for companies seeking to enlist the best that PR has to offer. It's the basis I use for dialogues with those I work with, and my hope is that it will help you better understand what PR professionals do and put you in the best position to maximize your relationships with us.

Step 1. Among your colleagues responsible for company management, sales and marketing, determine what your marketing objectives are for your company. If possible, complete a Marketing Plan covering the immediate future through the end of the year to come.
Step 2. Part of a sound marketing plan is a competitive analysis. Be sure to investigate the marketing tactics of your main competitors and determine what is worth emulating and what should be avoided.
Step 3. Among your colleagues or based upon your research, identify possible PR partners. Remember that success is often only possible when teams work together and communicate effectively, so look for partners where affinities like positive past working experiences exist.
Step 4. Bear in mind that the quality of PR partner you will have access to will have much to do with your commitment to a PR campaign, including the budget, time and other resources you are willing to allocate for it.
Step 5. Provide your marketing plan -- or at least your main objectives for what you're seeking to accomplish, a short list of your competitors and some "Dos" and "Don'ts" in terms of your marketing ideas and preferences -- to your potential PR partner.
Step 6. Your potential PR partner will provide you with a proposal, most likely offering a menu of choices for ways they can support your business and giving a strong feeling for how they will communicate on your behalf if hired.
Step 7. Know that most PR professionals will provide you with a contract laying out terms of the working relationship.
Step 8. Once in business together, ensure that your management team and your designated liaison(s) work closely with your PR partner to strategize and develop a specific action plan for what's to come.
Step 9. In setting objectives and beginning to pursue them, consider that solid PR campaigns are built upon effective positioning for a company, and make the creation of that language and the preparation of targeted contact lists for campaign activities your first priorities.
Step 10. As your campaign gets up-to-speed, the dialogue between PR partner and liaison should include discussing results and using them to steer future activities.