By now, the predictions for 2010 have faded into the background and, for many, so have those business and personal New Years resolutions and top 10 lists.
So now that February is upon us and new products and technologies are on the horizon, here is a brief synopsis of things to do and avoid that will leverage your PR efforts. These tips were created with the goal of a high ROI program that will support the sales process and the effectiveness of your company’s overall marketing efforts.
- Subscribe, read newsletters and contribute to the top outlets that impact your business. Even if they are niche. Have a voice with a clear, concise point of view. More specifically, demonstrate how you are the expert with the relevant, real-life technology, business and customer experiences.
- Recognize that PR is a verb not a noun. The days of the lawyer-scrubbed and -approved press release as a primary communication mechanism is obsolete. Beyond that, it is a true dialog. Be conversational in tone and content.
- Follow your customers and your customers’ customers, including events they attend, speeches they give, earnings calls, etc. Keep at the pulse of what your customers are doing and how they will evolve to remain competitive. Leverage this knowledge in all of your outbound communications.
- SEO: Link all of your communications – Web, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. If you are a panel participant, provide the link, audio file and slides via your Web site and Twitter. Push content out, change your auto-reply signature to include links, refresh your Web site bios to include links to what you and your company say. This is a topic a lot of people talk about but few actually do. Want proof? Go to your company’s own Web site and under the executive bios tab, see how many of those pages include live links to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the like.
- Community: You employ talented people in a strategic location. Give back, no matter the scope or scale. Get creative. If you are a small company, invite other companies your size or within a few miles to join forces with you. Don’t get caught up in getting “credit” – Do the right thing; the benefits to your community and employees will resonate.
- Avoid participating in venues that are too big for the size of your company and/or resources that enable you to be successful. The phrase go big or go home applies. Go big could be a major speaking event (even if you don’t have a booth). No matter where you go, have a presence that is memorable to a majority of the attendees.
- Avoid becoming more concerned with responding to competitive claims than keeping ahead of the competitor in the first place. In most cases responding is vital, but be cautious about being more consumed by your competitors than you are with the success of your own business and valued customers.
- Stay away from trying to do too much with too little. Historic thinking indicates that with fewer publications, the PR universe is getting smaller. This is not true. There are more influencers than ever and they may or may not be with “traditional” publishers or analyst firms. Find out who they are and if/where they are syndicated. In most cases, there are about 10 key media outlets or individuals that truly understand and influence your market and are on the top of your customers’ must-read list. Focus, focus, focus.
- Avoid being in the weeds when the real issue is much bigger. For example, are you focused more on a specific competitor when in fact you should be having a high-level voice in patent reform? How secure is your supply chain and what are you doing (and saying) to be sure you can deliver to your customers? Avoiding the minutia will greatly help you up-level your message.
- And of course, while it may sound pedestrian, at all costs avoid anything cut and pasted. Everything MUST be customized, specific, targeted and relevant to the audience. Generic pitches remain one of the biggest complaints by editors across the entire spectrum of outlets, including major daily newspapers.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you.
About The Guest Author: Marla Kertzman, vice president of The Hoffman Agency, has more than 20 years’ communications experience in corporate and agency environments, including startup, pre-IPO and Fortune 500 companies. She provides practical and aggressive hands-on expertise in day-to-day strategic and tactical PR program execution. Marla’s focus is on great client service, bringing a unique perspective, coupled with drive, passion and an understanding of the technology ecosystem.