We often encounter potential clients that are interested in how a well-executed communications strategy could benefit their business but do not know where to start.

These conversations tend to begin with the words ‘can you write me a press release?’  Often that is the last thing a company needs.  I therefore wanted to share some key considerations on approaching a PR and social media campaign for the first time.

  1. Know what you want to say and to whom

This is probably the most important first step a company can take.  We start every new client relationship with a messaging meeting.  Using our own methodology, which we have improved incrementally over 15 years, we generate a series of messages that ensure our campaigns really deliver to a client’s bottom line.  If, at this point, we do not think a campaign will work (and this has happened many times) we will politely decline to do business.

  • Set realistic goals for what you want to achieve

Over promising is a scourge of the PR and communications industry.  We pride ourselves on not doing it, but if I had been given a fiver every time I heard a company express its disappointment with the results of a PR campaign against what was promised, my mortgage would have been paid off ages ago. My industry must take a lot of the blame for this, but companies need to be realistic too. 

  • Learn how to tell stories

Every business has an understandably skewed view of its own importance.  Many companies wonder why their competitors get more media or social media traction than them.  Invariably it is about the competitor’s ability to tell effective stories.  Journalists do not generally write about companies (Google and Apple excepted) but about themes and issues.  If you want to get media profile you had better be able to place your company in a wider industry or even global context.

  • Do not expect instant success

I am a big believer in investing in communications and PR over a longer time period rather than betting big on one campaign.  Often, I get journalists that enquire about a company months after I initially introduced them to the publication.  In fact, I am currently waiting for a story to run that I first pitched to a journalist almost a year ago.  A company’s reputation is built over years not days or weeks.

  • Be honest with your PR partner

We are fortunate to have wonderful clients that make us feel like employees.  Best of all they are happy to take our advice seriously.  If you are paying a significant amount for a consultant and you are not prepared to listen to what they say, perhaps it is time to reconsider that investment.  Using an external PR resource is not simply about adding functionality to a business on demand, it is also about tapping into the expertise that you are paying for.  My industry also needs to get better at giving honest advice – not just what it thinks a client wants to hear.

Investment in PR and communications does pay off.  We have seen the impact on a business many times.  Hopefully the information above helps businesses maximise their investment.

Chris Bignell

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