How to Amplify PR Opportunities for Business
There’s little debate that a public relations strategy is an invaluable tool for ambitious companies. To get the outstanding results that everyone raves about — some estimates say PR generated 10 to 50 times more than advertising — there’s an equivalent commitment of time and money. As with all things, the more money you spend, the less time it will take you. And yet, a founder or CEO can spend all the money they want on PR and still miss out on many of the real PR opportunities.
Here’s how to maximize your PR investment:
Prioritize media relations
As the founder of a company, the world sees you as the face of the company. That’s a good thing because the top three billionaires in the U.S. are both entrepreneurs and household names. Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Bill Gates all took control of their narrative during the earliest stages and stayed engaged. All three of these founders knew the press was an important ingredient in the recipe for success. Famously, when Amazon was best known as an online bookstore — and an unprofitable one at that — Jeff Bezos didn’t hide from the press. Instead, he engaged the press.
In 1999, Bezos was Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. Today, Elon Musk is on a proactive PR mission; you can barely turn anywhere without seeing an Elon Musk documentary or profile. Landing on the cover of any magazine happens to founders who are available to the press, and biographies are significantly improved if the subject is accessible.
I once led communications for a gubernatorial candidate. It drove me crazy that statewide press had his mobile number. But he knew giving them direct access enabled him to create intimacy with the media. This relationship building paid off with a 72% approval rating.
There’s another reason why prioritizing media relationships is important: When there’s bad news or an emergency, you’ll always have an opportunity to tell your side of the story. The time to build relationships is before you need them, not in the middle of a crisis. Solid media relations always pay off in good times and in bad.
Use PR to inform strategy
Successful founders know PR can provide a valuable analysis that informs strategy, product development and even hiring for key roles.
There’s a hidden asset that often gets overlooked. PR agencies can monitor vast amounts of content and put them into context, using that information to get an early edge. Identify early trends and cultural touchpoints the company can tap into for future products, limited editions, or partnerships. When companies combine this information with polls or focus groups, a very clear picture emerges.
Communicate and coordinate
Consider your PR team your most valuable asset next to your leadership team. Having PR at your side and championing your long-term vision means they can maximize their planning and set the stage for your story. A frequent question asked of PR agencies is about their relationships with the media, and while this is an important question, the more important question is: what story will PR be telling the media today that supports the long-term vision?
Put the PR team at the table in the earliest planning stages. Pull in PR for a pulse-check on big initiatives, because agencies keep their eye on the news in both a broad and deep way, and your PR team can identify difference-making emerging trends or emerging risks.
Allow your PR team to get to know you, your quirks, your style and your vision. Doing this allows your PR team to be a true extensionv of you, and can save you thousands of hours of time in speech writing, press releases and thought-leadership pieces.
Plan for consistency
PR with lasting impact is a marathon, not a sprint. Use this to your advantage. While PR includes daily tackling and blocking, that’s not something a leader needs to be looped in on, where the leader makes the biggest impact is the 3-year plan. A critical trait of founders is planning ahead. Be strategic about where and when you will pull the PR lever. The stories you earn today can support your initiatives tomorrow.
Look over your past media hits and see what worked and review with your PR team WHY you feel it worked. Stay connected to the broader media trends and anticipate how your company will be perceived in light of cultural and social changes so you can expect your company’s long-term vision and growth, as well as future media questions.
PR is a powerful tool for founders, and they can make PR work harder for them with these tips.