Public and Media Relations Strategy: How to Create Impact for Your Customers

Now that you’ve learned about the value of earned media and recognize the benefits of fostering good media relations to earn press coverage, you may be eager to launch your own public relations (PR) strategy. But wait—what does a strong PR strategy look like? Allow me to provide you with a real-life example of how you can use PR to directly support key marketing goals and amplify the outcomes of other marketing-driven activity.

US Ignite sought U.Group’s services to complement their paid and organic marketing efforts with earned media. They wanted to increase awareness of the organization’s impact on advancing smart gigabit city technologies and the applications they support among the organization’s stakeholders—which include their government, university and commercial sector partners as well entrepreneurs and inventors. The general public also has a stake in US Ignite’s projects because the advancement of these types of technologies improves quality of life in diverse ways in the communities in which they are implemented.

Since beginning our work executing much of their overall public relations strategy, we’ve secured dozens of editorial mentions of the organization and its initiatives in the news. These earned media mentions have gained millions of impressions for the organization and its initiatives across both trade and mainstream media outlets on local, regional, and national levels.

Through strategic outreach, US Ignite has garnered interviews with the Wall Street Journal, coverage in top-tier tech publications like CNET and Engadget, and consistent coverage in top trade journals in a variety of related spaces including Government Technology, Light Reading, Fierce Wireless, and many others.

How did we earn these PR wins? Let’s explore, in-depth, some of the tactical executions that led to these successes for the organization. Doing so will also shed light on expectations for reasonable timelines across which public relations strategies are executed and on average, when to expect tangible results from these efforts.

Starting with clear goals informs the strategy from day one

As mentioned above, one of US Ignite’s marketing goals was to increase awareness among its various stakeholders of the ways in which the organization’s projects contribute to the advancement of smart gigabit communities and the applications they support—like sensors and the Internet of Things.

Because smart gigabit communities and the applications they support can be applied to everything from waste management to transportation systems, they hold the potential to improve many aspects of life within local communities and are potentially very newsworthy. While it is important that they communicate these impacts across owned and paid channels (social media, email marketing, ad buys), having 3rd party media outlets choose to present their stories enhances the organization’s credibility in a way that owned and paid media is not capable of.

By starting our partnership with these clear-cut goals established, we were able to select the PR strategy best suited to achieve those goals. This strategy revolves in large part around identifying and reaching strategic stakeholders most likely to take interest in US Ignite’s activities and then crafting compelling stories to catch their attention.

Tailor your audience to the story, not the other way around

US Ignite sought to reach its stakeholders and get the attention of the general public who benefit from the advancement of smart gigabit city technologies. In order to broaden awareness across this diverse set of audiences, we had to develop a highly-flexible, multi-pronged public and media relations strategy that prioritized research to isolate the right contacts across different sectors of media. Each of these contacts holds different levels of influence across one or many of the groups in their list of audiences they are trying to reach.

To execute, U.Group developed and maintains a core lists of journalists who might take interest in US Ignite’s initiatives at both trade and top tier general news and technology publications. These journalists receive 80–90% of the communications developed for US Ignite’s public and media relations plan.

As a part of the process of developing a new story for US Ignite, we create additional strategic lists of journalists only appropriate for receipt of that particular announcement. For example, when U.Group developed a story about an ed-tech integration funded by US Ignite’s partners at the National Science Foundation, we developed a list of education reporters at both mainstream and trade publications who would have an interest in writing about the application.

As a result of U.Group’s efforts on the VR STEM story, there is secured coverage—pending right now—at one of the foremost trade publications in the education sector with over 50,000 unique readers per month.

Once you’ve initiated outreach, keep patient

When evaluating the positive outcomes we achieved for US Ignite through ongoing outreach to a core list of journalists at mainstream publications we deemed appropriate through research, there is clearly value in a properly executed media relations strategy. The focus of such a strategy should always be on accessing the best opportunities for a customer.

Exercising consistency with the right reporters achieved a big win for US Ignite, resulting in an introduction between the customer and a key industry reporter at the Wall Street Journal. This relationship did not develop overnight, however—it took time and patience to yield desired outcomes.

The first several interactions with the reporter were met with gratitude for recognizing that she would take interest in receiving news from US Ignite based upon her past archive of coverage. However, her initial receptivity did not transform into tangible results for several months when she requested an informational interview with US Ignite’s leadership and some of the organization’s key stakeholders concerning breaking news from the organization.

These highlights from U.Group’s work with US Ignite should help you to integrate what I discussed in my first two pieces into real-life scenarios. They should also help you to set realistic expectations for establishing your own PR-driven program. Stay tuned for more real-life examples of PR-driven successes based upon customer goals. In the meantime, if you have questions how PR-driven strategies can work for your organization or brand, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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