Is it advertising, marketing or PR?
Have you ever wondered what is the difference between advertising, marketing, and PR? Writer S. H. Simmons nails it. “If a young man tells his date how handsome, smart and successful he is – that’s advertising. If the young man tells his date she’s intelligent, looks lovely, and is a great conversationalist, he’s saying the right things to the right person and that’s marketing. If someone else tells the young woman how handsome, smart and successful her date is – that’s PR.”
PR – Must Have in Your Marketing Plan
Whether you are a start-up business or one with a long history, PR or Public Relations needs to be a part of your integrated marketing plan. In 2009, when I first joined Corporate Images, my role was Public Relations. Call it beginners’ luck, but my first big success was landing TV coverage and a front-page news story for a local tavern, Shillings Irish Pub, the day after they went smoke free.
One essential component of PR clicked – timing! Governor Doyle was months away from signing into law a ban on smoking indoors in public places. So, a story about a bar banning smoking at the risk of losing patrons was interesting news. Recently the timing factor clicked again. Just before Halloween, I pitched CBS 58’s Racine & Me anchor on a story about a local dentist’s Dental Backpack Program, providing uninsured kids ages 5-18 free dental visits. All that Halloween candy coupled with a program to protect kid’s teeth was a story that achieved what good PR does so well . . . builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. With good PR, everyone wins. In this case, the TV station, their audience and the dentist. That means when I contact a TV station or a news outlet or a highly influential blogger, I have a clear picture of their audience/followers and the benefit that audience may enjoy from hearing the story.
Building Relationships in PR Requires Personalization
According to MuckRack’s State of Journalism 2021 Report, the top two reasons journalists reject a PR pitch are 1) bad timing and 2) lack of personalization. I’ve covered timing, so let’s take a look at ways to resolve the lack of personalization issue. Personalizing requires getting closer to the journalist while making a strong connection between the idea you are pitching and the journalist’s audience. Getting a person to buy into the concept or story you wish to share begins with asking the tried and true 5 W’s—Who, Why, What, When and Where. If you think these seems out of order, consider this. Everything you communicate needs to begin with Who you want to reach and Why you are communicating with them. Only then should you come back to the details of What’s this about, When should it be shared, and Where will the audience be most likely to experience it – printed or digital news publication, social media share.
In writing this blog post, Who I want to reach is broad – people seeking to promote themselves, their business and its products and services using PR tactics. My purpose (Why) is to inspire you to use PR as part of your marketing mix and give you a few ways (the What) to make that happen (Oh, and to contact me if you would like my help!) I’m posting now (When) since now is the time to plan your PR effort for 2023. Beyond this blog, Where I’ll share includes an email broadcast and various social media channels.
Now – the tough part. How in PR do you get close to a contact? How do you “personalize” that effort? First, do your homework and conduct the research necessary so the person you pitch if your best target. Second, make sure the story you are pitching is a good fit for the audience of this journalist/blogger/influencer/editor. Social media enhances the ability to personalize pitches. Before pitching a TV anchor, I visited her Facebook page and discovered she was recently engaged. Congratulating her warmed our relationship and may have contributed to an eventual story and another after that. Researching social media influencers reveals not only the size of their following but facts about them that can personalize a pitch.
Use HARO to Connect with Journalists
Some of the biggest publications in the game—The New York Times, Time, The Wall Street Journal, and Fox – have journalists who use HARO (Help A Reporter Out) https://www.helpareporter.com to find and connect with suitable sources of information for stories. With HARO, the journalist comes to you instead of you seeking to get their attention. Even editors of online catalogs discover new product options by submitting queries through HARO. I recently spotted a HARO request for Christmas gift items similar to a client’s product, wall décor. I responded to the query, a sample of the wall decor was requested and voila! The online Christmas catalog now offers their wall décor to online shoppers.
A HARO account is free and easy to open. Expect three emails every day with a variety of queries. I skim through them and when I see one that connects with information I have to share, I respond, providing the information requested. I’m not building a relationship, but I am exploring a possible connection that may lead to future publicity or even sales.
I hope I’ve clarified the PR segment of the confusion between advertising, marketing and Public Relations. At Corporate Images, we’re experts at all three. Contact us or email me, and I will help you determine how to build awareness and revenue choosing the right strategies from one or all three.