I can tell you from first hand experience that I’m a big fan for what good PR can do for a company in driving new customers, partners and investors. Often times, such initiatives can generate high returns when coordinated with a paid advertising campaign.. Good stories written by credible media outlets and bloggers can help an organization rise above the foray and show a clear difference from its competitors.
What’s more, the best PR can occur when the company plays only a small part in the piece.
This may sound contrary to traditional thinking, but it’s true. Just like word of mouth marketing, the best news articles may be ones where a customer, partner or “innocent bystander” takes center stage in the story and touts the organization’s product or service. This not only makes the story more relevant to the readers who relate more toward that individual then they do the organization, but can also be a more credible piece by being perceived as less “salesy.” While this type of story may take more effort to construct, the benefits are substantially greater.
So before you have your PR agency pitch another reporter, make sure you’ve got the following elements in place:
- Line up some people who can talk: Get with your marketing, sales and customer service folks to work with your PR team to identify and solicit participation from top customers and partners that will speak for the record on how your product or service is adding value to them or solving a problem.
- Frame the story as theirs, not yours: When pitching media, make sure your PR people are offering up a story about the individuals that will be speaking, with your company playing a secondary role. Trust me – your organization will get its due as the solution provider, but the human interest factor is the bigger selling point.
- Be ready to act, and quickly: The nature of news means that PR folks will pitch for days and weeks, often times not getting a response until sometime much later from a frantic reporter who’s on a very short deadline. It’s important to make sure that when that occurs, you can get all the players in place in a matter of hours. It could mean the difference between landing a good, positive article and missing a big opportunity.
All of this is not to say that there won’t be times where your company can be the star, but selling a story idea that puts customers, partners and other stakeholders in the forefront will increase the chances of even greater PR buzz that will drive new business. In fact, this strategy could actually drive more traction than the standard “spray and pray” news release distribution tactic. Egos may have to be put in check in the process, but I assure you, you’ll get greater notoriety by spreading the love around.