In strategizing effective communications, what you say is as important as what you don’t say. The message must be strategically planned to achieve the purpose you desire, to target the markets you want to saturate. What you communicate is the most important. Your approach is more valuable than your contacts in achieving positive results.
Once you have made a commitment to an ongoing public relations campaign, compile a list of all the techniques available and avenues open to your type of business. Then prioritize them. They may include:
- Active participation in trade associations, Chambers of Commerce, or other business organizations;
- Exhibition at conventions and trade shows;
- Speaking engagements;
- Sponsorship of major events or planning your own;
- Press conferences and press previews;
- Placement of by-lined articles in key publications;
- Preparation of new product and/or personnel releases for trade publications;
- Capitalizing on a trend or newsworthy occurrence (or creating one) to target major business or general-interest magazines as well as major metropolitan daily and local weekly suburban newspapers, and radio and television news and talk shows;
- Submitting PSAs to radio and television to garner “free” air time;
- Design and implementation of a financial and investor relations program;
- Development of a direct mail campaign and other collateral (brochures, etc.) materials;
- Having and maintaining a website;
- Social media campaign; and
- Government relations, i.e. lobbying.
Keep all of these avenues in mind as you contemplate and prioritize the possibilities. And, to borrow a phrase from one motivational speaker, “plan your work, then work your plan.”
Now that you’ve determined what you are going to do, who is going to do it?
Some of the most effective early-stage public relations campaigns I’m aware of have been handled by the president’s assistant or secretary. He or she is someone who knows the company, its customers and goals and has regular access to you. And, if that person is also articulate and writes well, it is logical for some public relations activities to be added to his or her job description. In fact, this may be the only way a new business can afford a public relations effort early on. However, it is important to realize that with limited staff available only part time for communications tasks, the targeted outlets and the anticipated outcome must be minimized. Implementing a public relations campaign requires an extraordinary amount of time. Gear your expectations accordingly. And, in a situation such as the above, prioritization is particularly critical. Then too, assuming your assistant or secretary has no professional public relations background, he or she will need to acquire some media “savvy.” This includes:
- Developing a broad-based knowledge of business hot topics;
- Framing a story in terms of the trend it represents;
- Understanding both the targeted outlet and your market;
- Knowing how to pitch the piece in several different ways;
- Offering exclusives;
6. Being aware of conflicts;
- Persevering, even after several rejections, while accepting “no” gracefully;
- Providing other story resources;
- Following AP style and double-checking facts, phone numbers, etc;
- Knowing what is and what is not generally accepted practice;
- Following through on commitments in a timely fashion; and
- Establishing a reputation for credibility and honesty and much more.
The next step is to add an experienced full-time public relations staff person or persons, retain an outside agency, or both.
A number of factors should be considered in the equation. Here are several possible scenarios:
- If trade publications are the only media important to you, one professional who has specialized in your industry and knows the editors are your best bet. Then too, his or her specialized knowledge will be useful in writing brochures, collateral material, and other content, etc.
- If penetrating one marketplace is critical to your success, whether it be the hospitality industry, the entrepreneur, etc. who has the proven expertise to do the job? This could be an individual or an agency.
- If a mix of trade and general-interest publications plus financial public relations and investor relations is required, is there any singular person who can provide the diverse support you need? And, if so, can you afford him or her?
About the Author
Devon Blaine is experienced in all facets of the communications industry. Formerly an actress, model, and stunt driver, she founded the agency in 1975. Besides designing communications campaigns that help businesses maximize their success, she has long been active in numerous entrepreneurial organizations, thus earning a reputation as “the entrepreneur’s entrepreneur.” She has incorporated the knowledge gained from these ventures into the philosophy of The Blaine Group. The agency has an award-winning track record in serving the public relations needs of fast-track emerging-growth companies and major corporations alike.
She was three times president of the Los Angeles Venture Association (LAVA), a founding board member and a past president of the Los Angeles chapter of (NAWBO) National Association of Women Business Owners. Devon also serves as a mentor for the Stubbs Alderton & Markiles Precelerator, the South Bay Entrepreneurial Center, and the Innovation Incubator at Cal State University Dominguez Hills.
About The Blaine Group, Inc.
The Blaine Group specializes in developing and implementing public relations campaigns and marketing strategies as comprehensive communications campaigns or as stand-alone entities. The firm represents many authors and fast-track, emerging-growth companies. It also handles investor relations and financial public relations activities for its publicly-traded clients. The Blaine Group is located at 8665 Wilshire Blvd., Suite #301, Beverly Hills, CA 90211. The telephone number is 310.360.1499 Visit www.blainegroupinc.com.