It’s often tempting for companies to want a big PR push before there is anything concrete to show or discuss with the media or influencers. This can lead to costly false starts and misfires.
Evaluating Whether Your Brand Is PR-Ready
A brand is PR-ready when it has a great product, service or story to tell — and assets to support them. How can you check yourself, as a brand, to ensure that you’re PR-ready?
Do some research. Check out the media outlets you want to be featured in and see whether any of them are covering stories similar to the one you want to be told. If so, consider what appeared in the articles or segments that clearly supported the story (e.g., photos, research, videos, etc.). Then see whether you have those assets.
For example, if you want to be on the Today show, watch the show for at least a week. Consider whether you see an example of a story similar to the one you want to be placed. If not, consult a broadcast professional about what kind of story might actually work — and what it would take to create a compelling pitch for the show.
Also, keep in mind that when you’re working in-house at a company, you often get lost in the trenches and can quickly lose sight of how others may perceive milestones and developments that are considered a big deal on the inside. But what’s big news internally may not be news to the masses.
Since brands are often deep in their own worlds, they tend to see any minute update as praiseworthy. But the general public may not agree.
Evaluating Whether A Client Is PR-Ready
What do you do, as a PR professional, when a brand wants coverage but isn’t ready?
Constructive criticism is the key to telling a brand that it isn't quite ready for PR primetime. This may require a frank conversation during which you clearly explain why, as well as what steps are required to get there.
Here is a checklist of 10 things to consider having in hand before seeking media coverage — whether you’re on the client or agency side — to ensure the program’s success and maximize the investment.
• A great website. Is the company’s website up-to-date and reflective of the current brand and its success? This is a must-have before reporters Google the company and find something that undermines the pitch or the brand’s credibility.
• Clear brand positioning. Are the brand positioning and messaging clear? Have you conducted a SWOT analysis? Are there clear points of differentiation from the competition that will direct what stories to tell? Does the brand have a solid mission and core values?
• Identified target audience. Do you know who the target audience is? Are there multiple audiences who could help the brand achieve its business and marketing goals? If so, who are they and in what order of importance?
• Expertise or thought leadership. Does the executive team or entrepreneur have a strong point of view or a unique take on a relevant issue? Do their professional or academic backgrounds make them credible sources of industry commentary and insight?
• Professional packaging. Is the product packaging well-designed, and does it “look the part” for the stories the brand wants to tell?
• Supportive research. Does the product have research to support its efficacy? Does the service have market data that demonstrates its relevance? Is there a white paper that explains the company’s view on an important issue or topic? Is there a survey that clearly shows demand for the service or product?
• Dedicated spokesperson. Does the company have a dedicated spokesperson who is media-trained, articulate and mediagenic? Is this person available for quick-turn phone interviews, when needed, and able to deliver the brand messages in a concise and colorful way? Does he or she have the capacity and ability to provide written responses to interview questions?
• A client representative with the capacity to manage a PR team. Is there someone in-house with the capacity and ability to manage the PR team, answer their questions in a timely fashion and get them what they need in time to meet deadlines and keep things in motion?
• Relevant and compelling content. Does the company have high-resolution professional images and videos and demos or samples available for the PR team to send to the media? Does the executive team have headshots that reflect the brand’s professional image?
• The ability to scale. If all goes well and the PR efforts lead to more sales and clients, etc., is the company prepared to scale quickly to meet the higher demand?
One of the worst things that can happen when a brand is not ready for PR is that their budget is wasted and they part ways with their PR agency with both sides feeling frustrated because they were unable to accomplish what they set out to do. So before you seek media coverage, make sure you can check off these 10 list items.