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PR Is No Picnic in the Summer — 5 Tips to Plan Your PR Efforts Around Vacations & Holidays

PR is no picnic in the summer (4) June 27, 2016

Ah, summer…a time for getting outside to enjoy the warm, sunny days with picnics, margaritas and relaxing by the pool…but, what about your PR plans? Summer can be a challenging time if you have PR initiatives that need to move forward. With many reporters on vacation, your media outreach can take even longer than usual. And, of course, the 4th of July is right around the corner.

So, what does this mean for your public relations efforts? PR can be anything but a picnic during the summer months. Here are some tips to try to make the most of this season when it comes to PR:

  1. Planning is imperative: Trying to choose the best date for an announcement? Study the calendar. Avoid the major summer holidays, the 4th of July and Labor Day, as well as the days before and after. That is, unless your news has a tie-in to these holidays. If you’re making a tech-related announcement, for example, you’d certainly want to time it so it doesn’t coincide with the 4th to achieve maximum visibility. On the other hand, if your news involves a holiday-related trend, you’d want to pitch that a week or two before the holiday.
  2. Allow extra time: As we know reporters may very well be on vacation, it’s a good idea to build in some extra time on pitches during the summer months. For instance, if you usually pitch news a week before an announcement, allow two weeks. That way, if a journalist is out of the office, you’ll still have time to follow up.
  3. Avoid the dead zone: Per the point above, as the 4th of July and Labor Day each fall on Monday, you can expect the Friday before to be pretty quiet (you can almost hear the crickets chirp!). Some may even take off the Tuesday after to create an even longer weekend. And, once they return, their inboxes may be filled to the brim with pitches. You don’t want your pitch to get lost in that sea of email, so maybe wait another day or so before sending it.
  4. Think Christmas: Believe it or not, it’s not too early to think about the holidays. Gift guides for many print magazines are already in the works. If you have a product that fits in that category, you’ll want to start pitching those gift guides now. Be ready with a product description and high-resolution photos.
  5. Cover your time off: Lastly, if you’re in charge of working with the media for your company or client and are planning to take a vacation, have a plan in place should a reporter get in touch during that time. Ask someone to cover for you and be sure to have basic resources ready for them to use if a reporter needs anything. If you have a press area on your site, all of these materials should be posted there (that makes it easy for the reporter AND for anyone trying to cover for you).

And, be sure not to leave your clients in the lurch. Give them plenty of notice so you can complete any work they need done before you go. If you’re a consultant leaving for an extended period of time, e.g.               more than a week or two, consider asking someone to fill in for you. Perhaps you have a trusted consultant colleague who could be on call, should your clients need anything.

I hope these tips help you make the most of your summer PR initiatives. Now, time to get back to your sunbathing!

 

 

Why Hire a PR Consultant?

Why Hire a PR Consultant June 4, 2016

So, you’ve decided you need some outside PR help for your business. But, what kind of help do you need?

Of course, in the world of outsourcing, one size does NOT fit all. If you’re thinking of hiring external support, there are always options. Agencies, subcontractors, PR consultants (sometimes known as freelancers) can all offer assistance—but which option is best for you?

Why would a PR consultant be a good fit?

Let’s look at some situations in which a PR consultant would be a good fit. Here are some possible scenarios:

  • You can’t afford an agency
  • You have sporadic projects with which you need help (so a subcontractor may be overkill)
  • You have an ongoing program that needs to be managed by an outside resource

Consultants are generally more flexible than agencies, in that they may not ask you to sign a long-term contract and may accept project or hourly work. Another benefit: most are probably less expensive than an agency, which stands to reason, because they don’t come with the overhead that an agency would carry.

And, consultants are accustomed to working with teams of all sizes. They’re skilled at getting up and running quickly, as they tend to work on a variety of projects at once.

Which companies can use a PR consultant? 

Consultants can be plugged into any scenario:

  • Small businesses: This can be an ideal fit, as most small businesses don’t have an internal resource for certain job functions and may just need help occasionally. Need a press release and some media pitching? Hire a PR consultant. Need some graphics designed for a brochure? Hire a graphic design freelancer. Get the idea? Consultants can help as needed.
  • Startups: Usually strapped for cash, startups need a resource that can assist—but on a budget. Consultants can be the answer. They can help you with a launch or an ongoing effort, showing results that will help keep your investors happy.
  • Corporate/enterprise: Even large companies can make effective use of freelancers or consultants. Many times, there’s a project that needs doing, but the internal team is just too taxed to add it to their workload. That’s when a freelancer can really come in handy. They can focus on that particular project—and when it’s done, they can move on. Or maybe there’s a big project coming up and the team just needs an extra set of hands. A consultant can help offload some of that temporary burden.
  • Non-profits: Another group that can be operating on a tight budget is nonprofits. While they might benefit greatly from some assistance, they may not think they can afford it. A consultant can come in to affordably help with a major fundraising push or perhaps an upcoming event.
  • Agencies: Freelancers can work with agencies, as well. Many agencies like free agents because while they don’t have enough work to keep someone on staff to do a particular task, a freelance consultant can be beneficial for certain clients or projects.

Once you determine you need the benefits outside help can bring to your business, be sure to consider hiring a consultant as a viable option. They’re a versatile solution that can be plugged in in a number of ways to help you using the approach that works best.

For New PR Grads—Advice from an Editor

graduates-351603_1920 May 17, 2016

I recently wrote a piece for Muck Rack, “7 Questions NOT to Ask a Reporter,” which garnered some of the best feedback I’ve ever received. An editor at an industry publication actually took the time to write me about how much he enjoyed the piece—and how every new public relations grad should read it.

With many new PR pros graduating this spring and entering the ranks of those who pitch the media, I thought I’d share his words of wisdom. Whether you’re new to the PR field or have been at it a while, you can always learn from the mistakes of others. Continue reading For New PR Grads—Advice from an Editor

Start Before You’re Ready

“Successful people start before they feel ready 3 April 13, 2016

Spring is my favorite time of year—the trees and flowers are blooming, and we finally get some warmer weather here in the Midwest. Another reason I celebrate spring is because it’s the anniversary of my business. This year, I celebrate 17 years of Garrett Public Relations.

As my business turns 17, I’ve been reflecting on how I got started. It was a dream of mine to strike out on my own, but when I was a younger professional, I knew I didn’t have the real-world experience needed to make a business fly. I needed to wait for the “right” time—whatever that meant.

So, I sought out opportunities that would give me that experience. I worked at a public TV and radio station. I worked for a large university. I worked for an IT company. And finally, I worked at an agency to round out my experience and learn the ropes on how to handle clients. There, I worked with major enterprise companies and startups.

While I waited for the “right” time, I learned all I could about how to run a consulting business. I talked to other independents and attended a group for freelance communication pros. Then, when the time seemed “right,” I hung out my shingle. I wondered if I were truly ready. “Ready as I’ll ever be,” I thought.

Even though I launched my business with three clients, my biggest fear, of course, was not having enough work. I figured the worst thing that could happen was that my business would fail—then I’d have to go back to get a job working for someone else. But, it’s never happened. Have there been ups and downs? Absolutely. Would I trade the ride? Never.

I recently read a quote I love, “Successful people start before they feel ready[i].” I had laid the groundwork for success, but in my heart of my hearts, I was still a bit afraid of taking the leap. Had I waited until I felt truly “ready,” I might never have done it.

17 years and many clients later, I still enjoy the freedom and flexibility that consulting brings. There really is nothing like working for yourself. Being an entrepreneur was my calling.

Launching your own business can be a scary thing. But not pursuing your dreams can be even worse. If you want it, go after it. Don’t live wondering, “What if.” Make a plan, find those who can help advise and inspire you, and go for it. If you wait for the “right” time, it may never come.

 

[i] http://jamesclear.com/successful-people-start-before-they-feel-ready

 

Spring marketing and PR spruce up

tulips March 31, 2016

Ah, spring is here at last. Nature is coming back to life. The birds are singing, the trees are blooming—and, our thoughts turn to….cleaning. Cleaning out closets, getting rid of clutter, sprucing up the yard…but, what about your business? For small businesses, marketing is a constant concern. Have you given any thought to freshening up your marketing—specifically, your public relations initiatives?

Here are five things you can do to spruce up your marketing and PR: Continue reading Spring marketing and PR spruce up

If agencies are struggling, is this an opportunity for PR consultants?

March 14, 2016

PR Week just published an article, “PR agencies face mixed future,” prompted by financial reports that were issued by holding companies such as Omnicom, which owns big public relations agencies including FleishmanHillard, Ketchum and Porter Novelli. Among other findings, organic revenue was reported to be down 6.9 percent. Says the article, “No matter which way you spin it, that’s a disappointing performance.”

So what does this mean for PR consultants? Is it bad news? No. In fact, it could be viewed as an opportunity.

The PR Week article goes on to say, “Using lowly paid account staff churning through accounts that come and go regularly because clients become frustrated with poor service is a common complaint. CCOs are seduced by charismatic leaders who pop up at pitch or review time and occasionally thereafter, but aren’t physically and emotionally connected to the account on a regular basis.” Continue reading If agencies are struggling, is this an opportunity for PR consultants?

How to get more bang out of your public relations efforts

February 22, 2016

Get the most bang out of your PR efforts

If you’re reading this, you probably understand the value of public relations. It’s cost-effective and credible. Its power in winning over prospects to turn them into customers is unquestionable. PR is about telling stories—and even getting others to help us tell our stories. Think customers, influencers and, of course, reporters.

While it’s always been a valuable tool in the marketing mix, in today’s content marketing driven world, public relations has taken on an even greater role of importance as companies seek to fill the pipeline with relevant, compelling material.

When we reach out to reporters with a pitch, we sometimes get the desired result—a story! Or we pitch a speaking gig—and we secure a speaking engagement! Or, maybe we’ve entered our company to win an award—and we win!

But then what? Continue reading How to get more bang out of your public relations efforts

How awards can add up to a winning PR approach for your business

February 3, 2016

oscar-649301_1280As film buffs know, this time of year is awards season. There are the Golden Globes, various critics’ choice awards, Screen Actors Guild awards, and of course, the big one, the Academy Awards coming up at the end of February. Those in the movie biz understand the importance of awards to their success. Win an Oscar and you’re forever in an elite group.

But what about those of us in the business world? Couldn’t we benefit from some award wins, too? The answer is—yes. If you’ve never considered awards for your business, product, service or employees, maybe it’s time to start.

First, let’s look at whether winning awards really has any strategic value for your business. One study found smaller award-winning companies experienced a 63 percent increase in operating income and a 39 percent growth in sales when compared to non-winners, while large award-winning companies enjoyed a 48 percent increase in operating income and a 37 percent growth in sales when compared to non-award winners[i].

Sound good?

So, if you want to begin to investigate getting into awards for your business, where should you start? First, think about what type of award might benefit you most. It could be an award for your killer product. Perhaps you have the best CEO. Maybe your company has made a significant contribution to the community. Whatever it is, there’s likely an award that would be a fit. You may qualify for awards based on your company’s:

  • Services
  • Ethics
  • Growth
  • Community service
  • Employment excellence
  • Leadership
  • Products

Here are a few ideas of where to look for award opportunities:

  • Trade organizations: Start with your own industry to look for opportunities.
  • Publications: Try industry trade publications, as well as general business publications. The American City Business Journals, with papers cities across the country, has a number of award opportunities throughout the year. Regional and statewide magazines also provide opportunities. And, on a national level, publications like Fortune also have award opportunities.
  • Groups that support businesses: Think chambers of commerce or economic development organizations.

Once you’ve done your research and made a list of possibilities, determine which awards you’d like to enter. Some have entry fees—others don’t. Always check to make sure fees are in line with your budget.

Then, compile the information required. Some award applications will ask for more detail than others. Allow enough time to collect the information, write what you need to, and then submit by the deadline. Be sure to follow the directions and be thorough.

You’ve entered – now, you wait. If you win, of course, that’s a big deal! Make the most of it by issuing a press release, posting it on your site, and maybe even adding a badge (if they have one) to your site. You can even work it into your boilerplate. And once you’ve won, you’ll always be an “award-winning company.”

And, of course, if you don’t win this time around, there’s always next year.

[i] http://www.stevieawards.com/pubs/general/72_194_8831.cfm