Public Relations (PR) campaigns are vital for promoting brand awareness and managing your reputation. The best PR campaigns help startups get essential exposure to maximize their reach to the broadest possible audience. Also, established brands need a robust PR strategy when launching new products, offering new services, or rebranding. Launching a PR campaign is also vital to recover from a brand image crisis.
The goal of launching a PR campaign is to turn your startup into a press-worthy story. But if you’re strapped for cash, investing in a public relations campaign can seem like an expensive investment. However, there are many ways that you can promote your startup to ensure that your message reaches your target audience.
This downloadable PR campaign checklist is a complete guide to developing a strategy for a public relations campaign. You’ll also learn the most common mistakes to avoid with PR campaigns so that you maximize return on investment.
What is a PR Campaign?
A PR campaign manages communication to develop positive relationships with the public. Public relations campaigns can involve press releases, blog posts, social media posts, paid advertising and mentions in news articles. A solid PR strategy should include reaching your audience, engaging with it, and building trust in your organization.
Public Relationship Strategy vs. Marketing
It could seem that marketing and PR are the same. However, there is a difference between the goals of PR and marketing. The purpose of marketing is to influence how consumers view your products or services to increase sales. But public relations is about selling the organization or brand by building a positive reputation.
Any successful startup needs a blend of marketing and public relations. Marketing will help consumers see the product’s value, whereas a strong PR campaign builds trust in the brand. Generally, positive public relationships are the foundation of a successful marketing and PR campaign.
How to Develop an Airtight PR Strategy
Every company—large or small, new or well-established—benefits from launching PR campaigns. To ensure that the strategy is successful, you must clearly define your PR goals. Here are a few ideas on the type of objectives of a PR strategy:
- To launch a product or company and maximize media “buzz” around it.
- To increase the number of sales.
- To reposition your brand.
- To influence behavior.
- To raise awareness of your company if you are looking to hire talented employees.
Of course, a PR campaign can have many other goals. But first, you must define what you want to achieve. Only then can you do market research, create content, and reach out to the right outlets such as journalists, blog posts, or other forms of media.
The First Step to Launching a PR Campaign
The content you publish should be based on your unique selling proposition (USP) to create interest in your startup company or new product. The USP features what your company does better than your competitors and the benefit to your customers. Ideally, you should be able to summarize your pitch in one sentence.
The best PR campaigns should answer the four “Ws” in one sentence — “who,” “what,” “why,” and “where.” In the pitch, the “who” is your company and your target audience. “What” is the product. “Why” is the problem that your product or company solves, and “where” is the date of the product launch.
Here’s an example of a one-sentence pitch to get your public relations campaign off to a great start:
- My company, [company name], has developed [product name] to help [target audience] solve [mention the problem] by [mention the USP].
You will see that the one-sentence pitch tells what the product is, what pain points the product solves, and the unique value of the solution.
You should also write the perfect press release headline or blog post title in addition to your pitch.
How to Create Compelling Content for Launching a PR Campaign
When you have your pitch perfected, you are now able to write killer content that shouts out to your audience. When you have a solid understanding of your USP, you can write content clearly and concisely. However, to make your press release stand out, you must write newsworthy content.
When creating your content, the first paragraph should always be the pitch that has your USP. Journalists, influencers, and reporters don’t have much time. So, it would be best if you told them upfront why they should bother reading your press release. All the essential facts should be in the first paragraph.
The following paragraphs should provide more details about your brand, company, and products. When reading the content, the reader should get a rounded-out idea of how your news affects your customers and the given industry. You can also include one or two quotes, authority references, or results of research.
The last paragraph shouldn’t just rehash the information you’ve already stated. Mention a fact or two that strengthens your pitch or predicts the future implications of your new product or company.
Top Tips for Creating Newsworthy Content for PR Campaigns
There are a few ways to maximize the chances that a journalist will view your press release as relevant and publish it. Here are four strategies to help to make sure that your content is newsworthy:
- Relevance — Make sure that your content is relevant to what’s going on in your industry. Try to keep up with trends or target journalists who write about your industry.
- Current — News has to be current. So, pitch your content in a way that addresses current needs and concerns in your industry.
- Unique angle — Putting a unique take on your company can ensure that you’re not saying what everyone else is. Give reporters something new to talk about.
- Newsjacking — You could also add value to your press release by relating it to something trending on social media or currently in the headlines.
Best Practices for Contacting the Media when Launching a PR Campaign
When you have your PR strategy in place and created content, you need to submit your content. The goal of PR is to strengthen public relationships between your company and consumer. The only way to do this is to publish your material. So, the content must capture journalists’ attention. How can you ensure that your press release gets published?
First, research relevant journalists, social influencers, or reporters in your industry. They will not only be interested in your product, but they already have the audience you want to target.
Second, when you have a list of journalists you want to contact, you should send personalized emails. However, personalizing an email is more than just using their name. It’s a good idea to write specifically about why you have chosen this person to discuss your startup or product launch.
Third, make sure that your pitch is short and to the point. Typically, between five and seven sentences should be enough.
Here’s a template to use when contacting a social influencer or journalist for your PR campaign:
- Dear [name],
I really liked what you wrote about [mention something specific] in [the source]. I think that [write one or two sentences about what you liked].
My company, [company’s name], has developed [then continue with a one-sentence pitch].
The reason [the product name and then continue with the pain points the product solves].
I would love to talk to you for 15 minutes if you’re interested in this.
Dos and Don’ts When Contacting Journalists
Knowing how to contact journalists and reporters can be tricky. Media personnel are busy people and are always looking for a new angle to publish. Even if you come up with an extraordinary pitch, you still need to follow a few rules when reaching out to journalists:
How to contact journalists for a PR campaign:
- Address the journalist, reporter, or editor by name.
- Refer to their recent articles, stating why you choose them to pitch your startup
- Explain in one sentence the solutions your company or product provides.
- Always write concisely and to the point.
- Always send unique information to each journalist you reach out to.
- Try variations on your pitch to test when ones work best.
- Ask for feedback if you don’t get a response.
Mistakes to avoid when contacting journalists:
- Never send out generic emails or cut and paste content.
- Avoid writing long, detailed press releases that have too many unrelated facts and information.
- Don’t bulk-send emails to all the journalists on your list.
- Don’t give the impression that the publication is privileged to receive your press release.
- If the journalist or editor is unresponsive, don’t pester them with many follow-up messages.
PR Strategies and Tactics
There are several strategies you can use to maximize the impact of your PR campaign. A robust PR strategy typically includes the three types of public relations—owned media, paid media, and earned media. Depending on your industry, a PR strategy will focus on what is most effective for your product or company.
Here are the three types of public relations to use in your strategies.
1. Owned media for building a PR campaign
Owned media is any digital outlet that your company controls. Usually, a solid PR campaign starts with leveraging your digital assets for your public relations activities. Owned media includes any of the following:
- Social media posts
- Blog posts
- Website copy
- Email newsletters
- White papers
- Case studies
Usually, when journalists or influencers talk about your product or startup, they will link to your owned media.
2. Paid media
A paid media advertising campaign can often result in fast results. For example, paying for someone to feature your product or startup guarantees your press release, videos, and social posts are published. Paid media includes the following:
- Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
- Press releases
- Influencer marketing
- Social media advertising
In some cases, you can get social media exposure and publish press releases without paying. However, it’s more common now for companies to pay for PR rather than relying on organic reach.
3. Earned media
The best and most effective strategy for PR is earned media. This is word-of-mouth advertising, and it happens when there is a buzz around your product. Getting this type of PR boost requires publishing content consistently and working on your search engine optimization (SEO). The results of earned media include:
- Top spots on search engine search results
- Press announcements
- Mentions on social media
- Features in industry-related news and reviews
Reverse Pitching for Positive PR
Reverse pitching is another way to launch an effective PR campaign. This process involves registering with websites that journalists connect to. In your profile, you can outline your startup or new product. Then journalists who are looking for related stories can contact you.
11 Steps to Launch a Successful PR Campaign
An effective PR strategy requires careful planning to ensure your message reaches the right channels and has the most significant impact. Building a trusted reputation through PR takes time and a focused approach.
Below are eleven steps for launching a successful PR campaign. You can also download this handy checklist here.
- Understand precisely who you are speaking to — Thoroughly research your intended audience and the solutions they need. Your audience’s demographics can determine the best media channels to use. Your goal is to build strong relationships with your customers.
- Develop a clear plan of action — Identify your goals and objectives. In other words, why do you need a PR campaign? Without specific goals, it isn’t easy to maintain focus and deliver measurable outcomes.
- Spend enough time to perfect your pitch — The pitch should grab attention. In one sentence you need to deliver enough value so that the reader is compelled to continue reading. The message should be brief and to the point, yet interesting and engaging.
- Create an outstanding press release — Get straight to the facts to tell the reader what is happening and why it matters. In about 30 seconds, the reader should have a clear idea of the value your company or product is offering.
- Research the most relevant media outlets — To help ensure maximum exposure, your PR strategy should target the most suitable ways to distribute content. For example, find out what blogs and websites your customers use. Are there social media influencers in your industry? Which journalists cover the niches you are targeting?
- Distribute your press release to the right people — Knowing who to contact is crucial to getting your content published. After building a list of relevant media outlets, you need to know the right people to contact. Focus on the top three for four in your industry to reach out to. It’s a good idea to create an extensive list for future reference. Not all the journalists or editors you initially contact will respond to your email.
- Engage with the media — A PR strategy depends on building strong relationships with journalists. After creating your catchy pitch and a newsworthy press release, it’s time to contact the media. Remember to engage with the journalists who are most relevant to your company or product. Always send an email that is tailored to the individual journalist and address them personally.
- Understand deadlines — Journalists work to a strict publishing schedule. So, you must respect that if you want your press release published on time. Also, asking about deadlines lets the reporter know that you are interested in getting them the relevant information they need.
- Use other PR tactics — Apart from media press releases; you shouldn’t forget about your other assets. So, it would be best if you looked at how to leverage your owned media — blog posts, website, and social media. Publishing regular content on these channels is also a key way to build public relations.
- Don’t forget to invest in visual content — A catchy pitch and exceptional press release are crucial for PR. But you need more than just text. It’s wise to invest in videos, digital flyers, social media posting, and blog posts to make your content stand out. Journalists are more likely to be interested in your pitch if you also provide visual content.
- Monitor your PR results — If you have clear objectives from the start of your PR campaign, it will be easier to gauge Return on Investment (ROI). Each goal should have Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These could be factors such as website traffic, social media engagement, or conversion rate.
It’s good to remember that PR marketing isn’t just a one-off occurrence. To build public relations, you should take a proactive approach to publish fresh content on media outlets regularly.
Some examples of ongoing PR tactics include the following:
- Announcing new products, features, or services
- Discussing significant changes in your industry
- Publishing white papers, case studies, or surveys
- Showcasing how customers benefit from your products or services
- Highlighting something newsworthy one of your customers or clients has done
- Announcing an anniversary, such as the number of years trading
- Publishing details on awards your company has won
There are many ways to generate fresh and exciting stories from new angles for press releases. Launching your first PR campaign doesn’t mean it’s the last press release you will send. Continue to look for newsworthy items and blend them with your USP to strengthen your brand and keep consumers informed about your company.
Launching a PR Campaign: The Bottom Line
Launching a PR campaign is an ongoing strategy to develop positive relationships with the public. There are several tactics and tools to implement in your PR strategy. Besides press releases, you should regularly create fresh content for your website, keep a positive social media presence, and use paid media sources.
With any strategy to boost public relations, it’s also crucial to get all employees on board. This means keeping anyone working on the project up to date with the pitches you use in your campaign.
When you implement a solid PR strategy, your campaign will result in greater online exposure. A combination of owned media and paid media will earn your brand social media mentions, backlinks, and a positive reputation. Launching a robust PR campaign will develop a brand that consumers trust.