Each time we kick off a new project and begin work with a new client, there is a feeling of mutual excitement. New clients lend a feeling of endless opportunity to utilize public relations to amplify voice and reach, to share the stories of impact and innovation, and to generate awareness among new audiences. But amid the excitement we also feel it is very important to set realistic expectations for our clients surrounding goals, objectives, and results.
Public relations can be a very powerful and valuable tool as part of an overall marketing strategy; however, it is important to have realistic expectations for your PR program. Every organization has unique goals and objectives. And many have lofty aspirations for magazine covers and TV appearances. Though these PR goals are often achievable, very rarely is any person or any company an overnight success. Magazine covers and consistent media coverage is often the result of months and even years of hard work towards PR efforts. As the saying goes, PR is a marathon, not a sprint. To help provide context to those embarking on a new PR program, we’ve put together the following guidelines for setting PR expectations.
Media and influencer relations: Getting press coverage and influencer mentions requires fostering mutually beneficial relationships with reporters, editors, producers, and influencers – relationships which take time to develop. As PR professionals, we have existing relationships with reporters that we have cultivated over many years. However, it still takes time for reporters to take note of a new brand, product or service and may require months of persistent outreach to yield coverage. Other factors include timeliness of company news, news cycles, and editorial needs. While the stars may align sooner, it may take up to six months to see significant coverage for more evergreen stories and pitches.
Speaking engagements: Because conferences and events are planned well in advance, it can take 6-12 months to secure a coveted spot in the speaker lineup. Keynote presenters influence attendance and conference organizers want presenters who will draw a crowd, so it’s important to have a strong resume of other speaking engagements, as well as a robust thought leadership platform, to prove you’re worthy of the stage. We always recommend that our clients start with small conferences and local speaking gigs to build their resumes. Larger conferences will want to see a video portfolio of past keynote addresses, testimonials from attendees and conference organizers, and published content establishing thought leadership in the respective space.
Contributed articles: Websites, blogs, and news outlets that accept contributed content are protective of their audiences and must ensure any articles they accept from a third-party are relevant and valuable. Additionally, they are especially interested in partnering with someone who has their own audience and influence which will in turn help to build theirs. Because they receive so many pitches, it can take time to get on their radar and prove your expertise and content is worthy of publication.
Awards: Award deadlines vary and it can sometimes take nominating several years in a row to get on the award committee’s radars and prove credibility and worthiness.
A successful PR program requires consistency and longevity. Press coverage begets more press coverage, published articles beget more published articles, speaking engagements beget more speaking engagements, and all of that can support award wins which support efforts all around. The longer your PR program runs, the more successful it becomes as you drive awareness, build trust and credibility, and enhance your positive reputation which will ultimately incite engagement and support from your key audiences.
Because PR is a long game, there is no better time to start or renew PR efforts than the present. If you are planning to release a big corporate announcement six months down the road, then today is the day to start your PR efforts. Beginning the conversation with editors and reporters today will help ensure you are on their radar when you are ready to share your big news. When it comes to PR efforts, the old Chinese proverb rings true – “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Rhiannon Hendrickson is the founder and CEO of Orapin Marketing + Public Relations, which helps purpose-driven businesses increase visibility, expand the reach of their message, and become sought-after industry leaders. She has worked with organizations of all sizes across myriad sectors to develop memorable and effective communications programs that generate awareness, engagement, and, ultimately, support for those that are making a meaningful impact.