How to do PR without a Press Release
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Until recent years, the humble press release used to be an important piece of ammo to a PR’s arsenal. Nowadays, PR doesn’t need to be dictated by a sharply written piece of copy, nor is there a need for gumph to make a story or a brand compelling.
PR stands for Public Relations and it’s the relations part that is so critical when working with brands and influencers. Using client time to construct a copy-heavy press release needn’t be the case to gain exposure. Here are some examples on how to work on efficient and impactful PR that doesn’t need a press release:
The new affiliate scheme
Sidebar ads and affiliate links have littered most sites. They serve more of a purpose to the blogger than the brand. The new affiliate schemes that brands are rapidly joining are the ones that rest on PR tactics. Brands such as TopShop, GoPro and Heals are all subscribed to affiliate networking sites. The new approach is not focusing on a throng of bloggers to punt your brand through an affiliate link; it’s about focusing on quality blogs that target the audience and positioning of the client. The new affiliate scheme should be seen as partnership – offering your chosen blogger(s) access to the brand and its products in a creative and meaningful way. The influencer needs to be inspired to be more involved in the marketing of a brand, and the reader needs to be attracted to buy into the product or the brand. The new affiliate scheme should be small, bespoke and work to enhance a relationship, rather than ruin it. The result? Brand focused content that is formed by the influencer’s creative eye. A successful affiliate partnership should be seen as PR more than media buying, marketing or link building.
The inside scoop
Building a list of press contacts is the easy part. Building a list of press that see you as a go-to source is the tricky part. A press release that is sent to every press contact on your list is never going to win round the most influential and hard to please titles. These kinds of titles either have their brands they prefer to work with, or need something exclusive and insightful to offer their readers. For your brand to be noticed by the right influencers, target them specifically and offer them something that shows the brand in a completely different light.
Interviews with key people from the brand are a great way to entice your best press contacts. Instead of sweating over a speaker available press release, build the key person’s experience and background into your pitch (over the phone or via email). This will cut down the prep time initially and will initiate a natural conversation between you and the journalist/blogger.
PR collaborations are easy to implement and very effective. There are also many different forms that collaboration between brands and press contacts can take. Hosting competitions are not new, in fact most brands that have a product and a digital PR team are primed to roll out collaborative competitions. Getting a PR spin on the collaborative competition requires a bit of finesse when organising; for example, negotiating the theme of the competition with a blogger by offering them additional insight. If you are able to throw products into the mix, get the influencer to do a review. Alternatively, offer them an ‘exclusive’ press pass to an event. I’m sure you see what I’m getting at, offer them something that they can’t refuse and that will get their readers to engage with your brand.
Collaborative competitions and product reviews should aim to build a lasting relationship between the press and the brand. The more personal it feels, the more the blogger or e-zine will promote the conversation.
The press hits right under your nose
Low hanging fruit are the easiest to pick. This analogy is well suited to warm PR leads that are posted online daily. Journalists, bloggers and e-zines actively look and request contributions from brands to supplement their content and social activity. Monitoring hash tags such as #JournoRequest, #BloggerRequest and #PRRequest daily is a great way to look out for sites that are already featuring similar brands. This is reactive PR in its simplest and most effective form.
A press release should never restrict the time, the creativity or the approach of PR – and should never prevent PRs from reaching out to their press contacts. Some of the most engaging PR campaigns have resulted from the day-to-day relationships and partnerships that good PRs nurture with journos and bloggers.
With all of the above possibilities in mind, PR without a press release should always stay true to the following:
Protecting a brand’s online reputation is like a dark art. You should always make sure your PR is targeted to like-minded titles that are brand ambassadors and would be interested in publishing positive coverage.
Every piece of PR that is executed needs to strengthen the brand in its industry, in front of its consumers and its online presence. This may sound obvious, but it is very easy to go through the motions of selling in a press release to your contact list over and over again. Lastly, don’t chase after PR leads that would place your brand in front of the wrong audience.
Promotion through a PR activity should never feel forced but shouldn’t be so abstract that the reader is not sure of the purpose of an article or partnership. Keep your objectives at the heart of your PR pitch and hatch a plan that works for both the client and the influencer.