PR Insights

Can you operate in a place where you don’t have a corporate reputation but still sell products? Absolutely. We see companies like that selling products on Amazon all the time. They’re usually the cheapest and accompanied by less-than-credible reviews. Companies like this might sell luxury fakes at the farmer’s market. If you look at these companies, you will find dubious backgrounds or thin reputations. And yet, many of those companies are not trying to change that. This article is not for those companies. This article is for ambitious brands who want to be the premier brand in their category. If you are an ambitious company – how important is company reputation? Investors care about a corporate reputation. They care a lot – and investors dig deeper and look for signals of success when there is economic uncertainty or capital is constrained. So what do investors look for when they consider a company’s reputation?

 

What Are The Benefits of a Positive Corporate Reputation

 

Brand Loyalty

My Dad worked for IBM for many years – and during that time, there was a saying, “No one ever got fired for hiring IBM.” IBM really set the standard for B2B Tech PR. That is a reputation goal. Having that kind of brand trust is invaluable. According to investors, brand loyalty is the number one benefit of a positive reputation.
Consumers see product or service reviews as the #1 type of content most effectively enhancing a company’s corporate reputation. Consumers know there’s no way to run from a bad product, and they also know that people love to crow about a good product – it makes people feel “in the know.” And customers eat up content that confirms their ideas about a particular product and brand, so there is good reason for media outlets and journalists to create this type of content.

Another reason customers love to see your product in the news is that it reconfirms their choices. It appeals to their ego and triggers their confirmation bias. This is especially when the person or brand confirming their choice is one they admire or respect. This is why influencer relations and media relations are two of the most powerful arsenals in your reputation management toolbox.

Investors also noted that a positive corporate reputation positively impacts crisis management as well. Brand trust is also a powerful tool during a crisis. When you have a PR crisis, the loyalty of your customers and their trust in your response will ultimately decide its impact. If customers aren’t buying it, that’s an indication of trust, and it means you’ll have to earn back their loyalty. Securing and maintaining trust is increasingly difficult in our media-savvy and highly volatile world. And it’s true – it is far easier to lose trust than to gain it. But that’s the reason why reputation management and PR are so important to growing companies. What type of content do you believe is most effective in enhancing a company’s corporate reputation?USC Annenberg Global Communication Report

Employee Moral and Retention.

Coming in at #3 was employee morale and retention. Top tier employees want to feel good about where they work, and they don’t want their own personal reputations sullied by bad actors. Great media coverage, from CEO thought leadership to statements about important issues, sends signals to employees that their employers are engaged with the world around them.

It’s not just that  – positive media coverage also excites ambitious employees for another reason: they think they may have a chance to improve their reputations through media opportunities. That could be anything from appearing in a brand video to being interviewed about a new product.

The more employees feel proud of where they work, the more likely they are to be committed to the company and its mission.

USC Annenberg Global Communications Report 2023 - What type of content do you believe is most effective in enhancing your current company’s corporate reputation for employees?
USC Annenberg Global Communication Report

Product Sales

Why would investors consider product sales last? Because sales are something that can be changed reasonably easily with the right investment. Employee morale and stock performance are harder to change; those two are not nimble. Plus, a good corporate reputation might not have a direct line to the purchasing cycle, but trusted companies do better in sales, can charge more, and have longer lifespans than untrusted companies and brands. So if your goal is increased revenue, trust needs to be one of your most critical strategies.

 

Purpose Driven and ESG – Where Do We Stand Today?

During the pandemic, there were some fascinating corporate shifts in purpose, value-driven messaging and sustainability, and it lead to all-time highs of customer trust in companies. People were looking to companies for the moral guidance that was missing from established sources, the CDC, the FDA. Everyone seemed to be ham-fisted, and the only ones communicating clearly were companies. Besides the fact that this underscores the importance of solid communication, it was also a new era in purpose-driven PR. But today, we’re seeing a bit of public backlash and businesses are wondering whether they should continue to social impact, ESG, and purpose driven initiatives.

Well, it turns out,  everyone from investors to customers are watching companies and want to support companies with a good compass. In the same report – customers and investors downgraded the idea that companies need to take a stand on important social issues. What this tells us, is people want companies to walk-the-walk and do it without crowing about it all the time – but they DO want to find it and it will impact their buying process, especially when there is a competitor.

USC Annenberg Global Communications Report 2023 - Purpose Driven and ESG in the eyes of consumers and investors.

Reputation building is THE most important outcome for PR, because with a positive reputation, all things are possible. The doors of opportunity open faster, and stay open longer. Contact us today for a reputation assessment that provides you with insights that give you the competitive edge you need to reimagine the future of your company.

I have a friend who once described PR as the “dark arts,” and while I completely disagree with that assessment, what he was getting at is he really didn’t understand how PR works. Reputable PR firms are the opposite of “dark arts”; they’re very transparent. There are some tools of the trade that PR agencies keep close to themselves, but really, there isn’t anything magical about HOW PR works; it’s just a specific combination of relationships, hard work, strategy, and culture. And that specific combination takes a long time to acquire, requiring commitment to the craft. But why PR is expensive isn’t because of human hours worked. Ultimately, there is a price to the human capital, but that’s not really why PR is expensive.

So, Why Is PR Expensive?

PR is expensive because the outcomes are so important and relevant. PR’s lasting value is in improving a brand’s reputation like no other marketing lever can. For companies wanting to be acquired or IPO, your PR investment ROI could be hundreds of millions of dollars.  PR outcomes range from high valuations at IPO or during capital raises to making advertising more efficient and reducing time to sale for both B2B and B2C customers. In short, it’s not unusual for PR outcomes to be more than 10X the investment. To 10X investment, the most impactful PR aligns with trust and loyalty, which requires consistency.

For many ambitious companies, the long-term benefits of PR are sometimes forgotten, and yet that can be considerable. Due in part to high marketing budgets during the pandemic, brand valuations increased dramatically in 2023 – from 6.3% growth to 9.7% growth.

Your reputation is your most valuable asset.

Why is PR so expensive research

Data from USC Anneberg Communications Report 2023

What is a Good PR Budget?

When considering your PR agency budget, your budget should match your goals. If you’re trying to grow your business, your overall marketing budget and PR should increase.

As of the fall of 2023, according to The CMO Survey, the average marketing budget was 10.6% of budget and 9.2% of revenues. For companies with $10-$25 million in revenue, the average spend was 15.5% of revenues. So, if you’re looking to be above average, your overall marketing budget should be higher than that. For companies under $10 million in revenue, the number was 19% of revenue. And consumer packaged goods reported spending 25% of their budget on marketing and PR.

If you’re an ambitious brand or fast-growing company, your budget could be 25% of revenue – is that aggressive? Yes. It is. Again, that’s a budget to grow considerably. A good rule of thumb for your budget might break down like this: 20% content, 20% advertising, 20% PR, 20% SEO, 20% activations.

While your distribution might vary depending on your goals – for example, if you’re raising money or looking for a M/A event, you might skip advertising all altogether and move that to PR and content. Alternatively, if you’re a consumer brand,  you might increase the content and advertising portions and focus your PR budget on certain campaigns. Emerging industries may need larger PR budgets because they need to create public and investor trust.

Based on the rates of PR agencies your budget may be higher or lower based on the experience level of your agency team. Naturally, less seasoned agency teams will be less expensive. But it’s probably more important for you to budget based on your goals.

If you’re ambitious or seeking investment or pre-IPO, your marketing budget should match those very important objectives and allocate 12%-17% of revenues or target valuations to marketing, with a third of that, at least, going to PR. Depending on whether you’re a B2B or B2C company.

How Does PR Make a Company More Competitive?

68% of CMOs reported expecting more intense customer rivalry in the coming year. In B2B segments, that number increased to 73%, with 61% expecting more innovation. By themselves, even new products don’t excite people without a story. If your company is new, you need to define a compelling story, and you need to tell it over and over. Whether you’re a tech company, or a consumer product company, PR is a key part of how people discover new products.

According to Nielson, global CMOs said brand recall was the #1 most important goal in media. Advertising is ubiquitous, and advertising is an important part of any marketing budget. After a while, ads blend in a social feed or even on TV. But if your product or CEO is in a magazine, people remember that. They might not even remember WHAT was said, they’ll remember that they saw it there. Brand recall is critical to the sales funnel. If people can’t remember your company, how will they purchase from it?

PR’s lasting impact is its value, including the fact that earned media lives forever. Less than 1% of companies ever get PR for their company, so by being in that top 1%, you’ve already differentiated yourself. Can you start a company without PR? Absolutely. Can your company thrive without PR? No. There are no household names without PR at the table, period. There are no industry leaders without PR.

What makes someone a public relations expert? In a world where the definition of PR  can be wildly vast, how can one person be an expert in everything? I would propose there are many types of experts, and you need them all in your ecosystem because they support one another and you in different ways. This identification methodology works for any agency. Fundamentally, it’s why agencies exist: to connect you to experts. Finding an agency can be a real drag – and ultimately, what’s most important is who will be on your team. An expert team is the difference between PR success and PR flops. But if you’ve never hired a PR agency, you might be confused about what to look for in a PR agency. Ultimately, an agency is only as good as its team. So, what should you be looking for in an outstanding PR agency team, and what defines a public relations expert?

 

PR Strategist Experts

This is the most senior of PR experts. They’ve probably worked their way through multitudes of specializations from B2B Tech PR to Consumer PR and verticals. They’ve seen content platforms come and go, understand the ebb and flow of media, and dialed in enough to ideate on the spot while having a big enough picture to discuss plans a year or more in advance.  Because they know today’s dynamic communication environment, strategists are typically fans of data-informed strategies.

PR Strategists can also evaluate time/trends/budget to provide insights on what to expect and how to improve outcomes. No one likes it when I say, “Anything is possible with the right combination of time and trends,” because it makes it sound like things are out of your control. They are and aren’t – PR strategists are excellent at reading the tea leaves and providing recommendations that mitigate risk and optimize opportunity.

In short, your PR strategist expert has a 100,000-foot view of the media landscape and how a particular company can stand out.

PR Strategies Experts are defined by these attributes:

  • uses data to inform strategies
  • defines metrics and KPIs within the context of time and budget
  • maintains knowledge of current and upcoming platforms
  • understands the impact of current news, economy, and policy on an array of verticals 
  • has extensive business experience with a variety of outcomes, from raising capital to increasing awareness to IPO and investor relations

Account PR Experts

Account experts see the big picture of multiple moving parts and know how they fit into the strategy. As a more on-the-ground PR expert, they’re funneling up day-to-day information and news to make sure everyone is engaged in changes that may require shifts in the plan. PR Account experts are also most engaged with the client’s brand – they’re the de facto voice for the client in an agency. They should have the clearest understanding of who the brand is and isn’t and can articulate brand guardrails to ensure any work represents the brand. Account PR experts will also likely identify brand inconsistencies and recommend corrective actions.  As strategic implementors, they will be the first to identify impracticalities and challenges to a strategy and will work directly with a PR strategist to develop a pivot where it’s needed.  PR Account experts are outstanding communicators and are proactive with ideas and collaboration, as well as managing timelines and campaign calendars.

PR Account Experts are defined by these attributes:

  • understand how daily indicators may impact strategy
  • identifies and mediates day-to-day challenges in the implementation
  • acts as a brand defender within the agency
  • can identify brand inconsistencies and recommend remedies

Specialist PR Experts

There is a perception that specialists aren’t as experienced as strategists. That isn’t necessarily the case. Our 100% executive-level team includes specialists with 10 and 15 years of experience in their specialty. Specialists love a specific part of PR and communications and focus on it exclusively. Whether that specialty is something like influencer management, ghostwriting, media relations, or social media, the PR and marketing world needs expert PR specialists. They’re the most engaged on the ground, and they can tell you things like emerging topics over the last 24 hours, trending hashtags, or whether anyone is even using emojis anymore. Experienced PR specialist experts understand the ebb and flow of tech; they know how to navigate the details and have tactical solutions and ideas on ways to polish outputs for the audience, platform, or trend. Without PR specialist experts, everything would feel less personalized, on-trend, and ham-fisted. The specialist takes strategy and gives it life.

Your agency team may have numerous specialist PR experts. For example, you could have a technical SEO specialist, a media relations specialist, a social media or community management specialist, or a cyber security mitigation specialist who helps you plan for a PR crisis.

Specialist PR Experts are defined by these attributes:

  • deep understanding of platform communication intricacies
  • deep understanding of the key players within a topic
  • can identify trends and articulate their importance to the strategy
  • can quickly navigate multiple technology platforms

Having a team of PR experts at your disposal is critical to PR success. Every member of your team has an important role to play, and every role adds perspective to the strategy and implementation. Part of the Avaans Media white glove experience is tailoring your team to your strategy. Talk to us today about your specific PR expert needs.

In today’s world, what is the role of public relations, and how should you create a public relations strategy? Many people think of PR purely in terms of articles placed (earned media), when in fact, PR strategy is a cross-functional objective that enhances business goals through reputation management.

How Does PR Support Business Goals?

PR is not a strategy – PR supports a business’ over-reaching goals. It’s completely possible for a company to be successful without PR, but it’s near impossible for a company to become a household name without PR. So whether your objective is raising capital, recruiting better talent, quickening the sales process, or preparing for your pre-IPO, a proper PR strategy is a critical partner in success.

How PR Supports Business Goals

  • Build credibility or trust.
  • Reputation management.
  • Brand/company awareness.
  • Harnessing media to support business goals.
  • Incorporating digital media in a brand and business-relevant manner

What is a Public Relations (PR) Strategy?

A public relations strategy answers the following questions:

  • What is the desired outcome of a positive company image with stakeholders?
  • Who are the stakeholders and target audience?
  • What company key messages resonate most successfully with the target audience?
  • What trends can the brand utilize to improve its image with stakeholders?
  • What research is relevant to stakeholders?
  • What content are the stakeholders consuming?
  • What activities are the stakeholders attending/participating?
  • What is the existing media coverage on relevant topics and key messages?
  • What assets does the company have to support PR initiatives, or what needs to be developed?
  • What PR initiatives are competitors utilizing, and how can the company differentiate?
  • What KPIs will be tracked to measure the effectiveness of the PR strategy?

Ultimately, a PR strategy provides the roadmap for the PR campaigns. It will incorporate data, messaging, and brand research to develop a positive public opinion of an organization, brand, product, or person for a specific business goal. PR strategies are often cross-functional and stakeholder-dependent. For example, you may have an overarching PR strategy for the brand with the goal of attracting financing, but within that strategy is PR for consumers and even an internal communications plan for employees.

In the above example, you would expect the CEO, CFO, and/or board members to be actively engaged in investor relations, a CMO, product manager, or marketing manager to be involved in consumer PR, and HR to be involved with an internal communications plan.

We believe in crafting PR strategies that align with our clients’ overall goals and values. This includes identifying key messages, choosing appropriate communication channels, and engaging with the media and the public in a way that enhances reputation.

Our approach emphasizes proactive communication to showcase the positive aspects of our clients, address potential issues, and foster strong relationships with the media. We leverage various platforms, such as social media, press releases, and events, to create a consistent and compelling narrative that resonates with the audience.

An effective PR strategy is about responding to crises and building trust and credibility over time. By staying attuned to industry trends, monitoring public sentiment, and adapting our strategies accordingly, an effective PR strategy will ensure companies maintain a favorable image in the eyes of their stakeholders.

How to Develop a Good Public Relations Strategy in 2024?

In order to create an excellent PR strategy, there will be considerable research, internally and externally, including audience analysis, media trends, and competitive analysis. A public relations strategy can take anywhere between 4 weeks to 4 months to create, depending on the ambition of the goal and how complicated the strategy will be.

A good public relations strategy aligns with the goals and the company brand and incorporates hard data and insights. There are different expectations of a PR campaign vs. an ad campaign; transparency and authenticity are expected in PR, as is an understanding of how to communicate with the media.  Communicating with the media is different than direct communication with your target audiences. Journalists have different expectations and requirements to satisfy before a story will be published, and journalists don’t see themselves as marketers – the role of PR is to bridge the gap between the journalist’s needs and the company’s. At its best, it’s symbiotic, but the any PR strategy will go awry when it doesn’t meet the needs of the journalist.

Understanding your metrics and KPIs is essential as well. Experienced PR professionals know how to analyze goals and ensure they match the plan and vice versa. For example, if the ambition is to be a household name, then the media budget – earned, paid, owned – needs to match that ambition. We’re fans of saying all things are possible, but the lower the budget, the longer it takes.

A solid PR strategy also needs to have a firm grip on the trends and tools that can support or derail a strategy. The media landscape is constantly evolving, and it’s important that any PR strategy take into account the entirety of the media and analyze which of these items presents opportunities and which presents threats. Further, there are hundreds of thousands of PR crises a year, and in the volatile and dynamic post-pandemic landscape, companies who don’t plan for a crisis are creating a very expensive scenario for themselves. Crisis like cyberattacks put hundreds, if not thousands of startups and mid-size businesses every year.

Ten steps to a modern public relations strategy

  • Consider your 6, 12, 24, and 48-month goals, and review the budget you have allocated to ensure your budget matches your goals.
  • Determine KPI and metrics baselines.
  • Research your target audiences using social media conversation, data, and stakeholder surveys.
  • Research media cycles and trends to identify media opportunities throughout the year.
  • Determine what key messages will work most effectively with your target audience.
  • Determine what gaps exist in the marketplace communication.
  • Identify three types of content and channels that will support your strategy.
  • Determine what PR platforms will support your strategy.
  • Identify relevant metrics and quarterly KPIs to track.
  • Develop or update the crisis communications plan.

What Will a Good PR Strategy Do for You?

Your PR strategy is like a finger print – there really isn’t one quite like it. Others may have the same business goal in mind, but the path to getting there should reflect your company’s distinct voice and brand. The goal of a public relations strategy isn’t to set everything in concrete but rather to provide a deep understanding of the goals, audience, and measurements so if changes are made; they are done so specifically to adjust within the necessary parameters. For example, if your goal is to attract investors, it’s important to consider what investors want to know and how to articulate that into PR campaigns; it will look very different than a campaign targeted towards consumers. Consider these parameters so your entire process from content to outreach is consistent.

A good PR strategy should include:

  • Identify proven key messages that are effective to the target audience and reflect the brand.
  • Identify baselines of metrics and growth goals that align with budget and timeframe.
  • Identify what PR objectives will be most effective for the target audience and the brand’s desired outcome.
  • Develop corresponding PR campaigns.
  • Identifying corresponding content opportunities.
  • Identify potential brand crises and create a crisis communication plan.

Digital PR Strategy

Is a digital PR strategy different from a PR strategy? No. Today’s PR strategies should incorporate digital platforms, content, and communication channels. A PR strategy that doesn’t incorporate at least some of these considerations isn’t incorporating modern PR principles. Avaans Media was originally founded as a digital communication agency, so our roots are firmly planted in the earliest days of social media. Today, digital media is a vibrant arm of public relations, as are content and earned media online. Digital perspectives should be included in your PR strategy as an integral part rather than a separate aspect. There may be other elements of your overall digital plan (pay-per-click for example), but your PR should be firmly integrated with the rest of your digital programming. And, of course, all these elements should work together to deliver trackable improvements toward your business goal.

A good PR strategy should incorporate at least three digital PR components

  • Organic search audit.
  • Keyword analysis and opportunities.
  • Social media audience audit and opportunities.
  • Social media brand audit and opportunities.
  • Brand mentions across platforms and forums audit and recommendations.
  • Owned content or native content development.

 

The importance of a strategic PR in 2024 approach in supporting business objectives cannot be overstated. Beyond its traditional role as a reputation management tool, PR has evolved into a dynamic and integral part of overall business strategy. From building credibility and trust to driving brand awareness and fostering stakeholder relationships, PR plays a multifaceted role in shaping the success of a business.

Companies that recognize the strategic significance of PR are better positioned to navigate challenges, seize opportunities, and cultivate a positive and enduring presence in the market. As businesses continue to face unprecedented levels of scrutiny and competition, a well-executed PR strategy remains a linchpin for sustained growth and success. For PR expertise, contact Tara Coomans and her team at Avaans Media, who are PR experts for ambitious companies.

What’s happening in PR that you need to know about today? PR is a dynamic and powerful tool that can be leveraged for almost any audience, whether they be buyers, investors, or consumers; every one of them is influenced by the media. It’s important to know PR trends’ emerging techniques and tactics, but it’s also important to know whether those trends apply to you. Our clients are ambitious, incredibly so. Businesses that are in hyper-growth are often growing so fast they can’t hire fast enough, and that may be a reason why they’re hiring an agency. So, while understanding trends is important, it’s more important to understand where and how PR trends apply to them.

 

Content Platforms

Expect lots of new content launches attempting to fill the vacuum left by media layoffs and newsroom cuts; there are already many new and different ways to use content today. There are native and sponsored content options in some extremely prestigious outlets, and Substack has taken on a new life. Influencers are using the platform with affiliate links and journalists are using it to source ideas, data, and contacts, and companies are using it to reach the early adopter crowd. Is Substack the new Medium? Possibly. Medium, while not the darling it was a decade ago, still (as of this writing) has a place in the content ecosystem, especially for Silicon Valley – the Substack reader is a little harder to nail down right now and swings dramatically depending on the author.

Stay open to new ideas and places, but think through the ROI of investing in a content strategy on a new outlet too early. There are reasons to be an early adopter and disadvantages as well; be conscious of the pros/cons and include mitigations in your plan for the cons.

Data-Driven PR

This is one PR trend you can’t ignore. Newsrooms at even the largest titles are dangerously understaffed due to massive media layoffs. Setting aside the existential nature of this fact, this presents an opportunity for prepared, well-informed companies to support journalists with information and data the journalist might not have access to or hasn’t been approved to purchase from an expensive research firm. This is especially critical if you’re advocating for a point of view, an idea, or a trend. Data creates validity and context to your claims. It’s simply not enough to make a statement and assume people will believe you. Your press releases, media pitches, and social media need relevant data to back up your claims; anything without third-party validation is just an ephemeral idea.

Spend time considering what data you need to support your claims and ideas, and then put that data into an easy-to-understand context. And find conflicting data or other data to support yours so you can open the door to a deeper conversation about why the data matches or doesn’t. Data points don’t have to be statistics; they can be before/after photos or videos and be reviews and case studies. Think about all the ways your ideal buyer would like to see data articulated.

But press releases aren’t the only place where data is essential. Your PR strategy needs to be data-informed, too. You’re already behind if you’re not using all the technological tools at your disposal, including AI, for key messaging and media opportunities. Revaluate the data every six months to ensure your strategy keeps pace with the data and shifts as needed.

A data-driven approach has other advantages as well:

  1. Competitive Intelligence: Data-driven PR extends beyond internal metrics. It includes monitoring competitors, industry trends, and market sentiment. This competitive intelligence enables us to position our clients strategically, capitalize on market gaps, and stay ahead of evolving industry landscapes.
  2. Budget Optimization: PR budgets are valuable resources, and data helps us allocate them efficiently. We can optimize budget allocation for maximum impact by identifying high-performing channels and tactics. This ensures that every dollar spent contributes to overall campaign success.

Brand Authenticity

This isn’t as much a PR trend as it is an expectation. What do you stand for? What do you stand behind? What are you willing to stake your reputation on? Today’s media is suspicious of big claims. From sustainability to authority, if you’re staking your ground on a big claim, it’s best to ensure your business practices can defend these claims. It’s increasingly OK to say “we’re trying,” that’s the point of many annual ESG reports – to document the process. Audacious claims take time, and the world will give you space to accomplish those huge goals if you are simply transparent about the process.

This PR trend, to some degree, replaces “purpose-driven PR” as a trend. Why? Because it’s still expected that businesses will be good actors, but simply being a purpose-driven company isn’t enough anymore. Companies are expected to have built-in from the inside out and to implement this purpose beyond the PR advantages.

Your press releases and website are key areas where you need to create trust most because they are the two most prominent ways people new to your brand will find you. Every item that comes up in the first five results during a brand search is critical to your reputation; it should feel consistent and reinforce your brand authenticity.

Employee moral benefits from brand authenticity as well. Your corporate communications should reinforce your brand authenticity as well. 2023 was the year of “return to work demands from CEOs.” Businesses have lots of reasons to demand employees return to the office, and employees have lots of reasons to hate it. This automatically makes this communication divisive. While there were hundreds of thousands of “return to office” initiatives, only a visible few made news. Why? They typically made news because the tone was antithetical to the brand or there was a threat attached to the change in policy.

If your brand is divisive and threatening and the culture is anti-employee, then this is on brand, and you may proceed accordingly. If that’s NOT your brand, then communications like this need to be handled consistent with your company’s values, authentically.  It’s not that a company can’t change policies – they do it all the time, but when those policies don’t match the brand promise, internally or externally, expect backlash.

Laser Focus vs. Bucket Outreach

Today’s PR firms have access to thousands and thousands of journalists at their fingertips. We all pretty much have the same access – it’s not whether you know the journalist; it’s WHAT you send them that differentiates the pitch and determines its success. Not that they were ever appreciated, but gone are the days where you could blanket the press with a pitch and expect any premium outcomes. That’s why we advise our clients to look at press releases differently than in the past.

Today’s media relations experts know that every single outreach is a reflection on themselves, their agency, and the brand, and they take the time to treat journalists like humans rather than a transaction. Does media coverage get broken down into stats like reach, views, and authority? Yes. But the “relations” part of media is what makes it happen. A journalist never looked kindly upon a brand (or agency) that spammed them with irrelevant updates. Never has it been more off-trend to send mass emails to journalists. If your PR firm does this, they’re damaging your reputation along with theirs. But it’s not just the negative consequences of an impersonal pitch; the advantages of a personalized one are really valuable.

  1. Stand out from the crowd: A personalized pitch stands out amidst the sea of generic emails. It shows effort, thoughtfulness, and a genuine desire to collaborate. This distinctiveness increases the likelihood of the pitch being noticed and considered for coverage.
  2. Respect is always good PR. Journalists have tight schedules and limited time for sifting through pitches. A personalized pitch respects their time by presenting information concisely and directly relevant to their needs. This efficiency is appreciated and increases the chances of your pitch being read and acted upon.
  3. Human Connection: In the world of media, establishing a human connection is paramount. Personalized pitches enable a genuine connection between the pitch sender and the journalist. It transforms a pitch from a mere business transaction to a conversation between individuals, fostering trust and engagement.
  4. Relevance and Customization: Personalized pitches allow for tailoring content to align with the journalist’s interests, beat, and previous work. This customization ensures that the pitch is not only relevant to the journalist but also demonstrates a clear understanding of their preferences and areas of expertise.

AI is a Fairweather Friend

Unpopular PR trend opinion. Guess what? ChatGPT and any generative AI are excellent tools for many things; your brand content and press releases are not among them. Sure, you can use ChatGPT to give you ideas, but anything that ChatGPT gives you has already been written because ChatGPT is just a giant internet scraper. So if you’re looking to differentiate, create a memorable connection or a news-breaking idea – use ChatGPT as an idea starter, not a complete solution. While we’re at it – remember that not all information on ChatGPT is accurate anymore, and it doesn’t do a good job of contextualizing the source or timing of information. So ChatGPT for content is a valuable tool, but you must understand its limitations.

AI is a fairweather friend not only for content but also for research. Unless you’re paying handsomely for AI research, it’s probably outdated and possibly inaccurate. Free AI simply isn’t good enough yet to be used in business planning or PR research.

  1. Lack of Human Touch: PR is inherently about relationships, and a crucial element of successful relationship-building is the human touch. AI, by its nature, lacks the emotional intelligence and nuanced understanding that human interactions require. The personal connection, empathy, and intuition essential in PR can’t be replicated by algorithms.
  2. Understanding Complex Narratives: PR often involves conveying complex narratives, brand stories, and nuanced messages. AI may struggle to fully comprehend the intricacies of these narratives and might simplify or misinterpret key elements. Executive-level PR professionals can navigate the subtleties and adapt messaging to resonate effectively with diverse audiences.
  3. Adaptability to Dynamic Situations: PR is dynamic, and strategies often need to be adapted on the fly based on real-time events and changing circumstances.  PR professionals excel in their ability to think on their feet, pivot strategies swiftly, and make decisions considering the broader context—an agility AI currently lacks.
  4. Creativity and Innovation: Crafting compelling stories and innovative campaigns requires a level of creativity that AI hasn’t fully mastered. The ability to think outside the box, generate fresh ideas, and adapt creative strategies to suit specific clients or situations is a uniquely human strength.
  5. Ethical Considerations: PR involves ethical decision-making, and judgment calls that go beyond data analysis. PR professionals are equipped to navigate ethical challenges, make value-based decisions, and uphold the integrity-and authenticity- of their clients. AI lacks the ethical compass that humans possess.
  6. Unpredictable Stakeholder Interactions: Stakeholder interactions in PR are highly unpredictable and can vary widely. Human PR professionals excel in building relationships with diverse stakeholders, adapting communication styles to different personalities, and navigating the complexities of human interactions, which can’t be replaced by AI.
  7. Contextual Understanding: AI may struggle with understanding the contextual nuances that are crucial in PR. Humans excel in interpreting cultural, social, and industry-specific contexts, tailoring communication accordingly. This contextual understanding is vital for effective PR campaigns.

Crisis Planning is Essential

Never has it been more important for companies to clearly define what a crisis IS (and isn’t), and what will happen in the essential minutes if there is a crisis. In a world where millions of messages can spread around the world in an instant, crisis communication planning is required for any company looking to grow.  It isn’t just enterprise companies that have crisis communication risks. When Silicon Valley Bank crashed, thousands of startups were caught in the crosshairs of a heavily covered media crisis, and very few of them had any plans or resources to react. What about crisis planning for an influencer meltdown, or a product recall? What will you do if a competitor goes on national TV and slams your brand or if a TV personality publicly slams your brand?

Crisis communication planning isn’t just a precaution—it’s a strategic imperative. Here’s why we emphasize the vital role of crisis communication planning:

  1. Proactive Reputation Management: Crisis communication planning is a proactive approach to safeguarding your brand’s reputation. By anticipating potential crises, developing response strategies, and establishing communication protocols, you are better positioned to manage and mitigate the impact on your brand’s image.
  2. Timely and Coordinated Response: Time is of the essence during a crisis. Having a well-thought-out communication plan ensures a swift and coordinated response. This agility is crucial for addressing issues promptly, minimizing misinformation, and maintaining control of the narrative.
  3. Building Stakeholder Trust: Trust is the bedrock of any brand. In times of crisis, stakeholders—including customers, employees, and partners—seek transparency and authenticity. A carefully crafted crisis communication plan helps you communicate openly, demonstrating accountability and a commitment to resolving issues.
  4. Navigating Media Scrutiny: Media scrutiny can intensify during a crisis, and having a predefined communication strategy enables you to engage with the media effectively. Whether providing accurate information, managing media inquiries, or disseminating updates, a well-planned approach helps you navigate media challenges confidently.
  5. Protecting Employee Morale: Employees are a crucial asset, and their morale can be deeply affected during a crisis. A clear communication plan ensures that employees are kept informed, reducing uncertainty and anxiety. This, in turn, contributes to maintaining a cohesive and resilient workforce.
  6. Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Crises often bring legal and regulatory implications. A comprehensive crisis communication plan considers these factors, ensuring that your communication aligns with legal requirements and regulatory standards. This safeguards your organization from legal ramifications.
  7. Learning from Past Incidents: Effective crisis communication planning involves analyzing and learning from past incidents. This iterative process allows organizations to refine their strategies, update protocols, and continuously improve their ability to handle crises.
  8. Preserving Customer Relationships: Customers are quick to react during a crisis, and their loyalty can be tested. A well-executed crisis communication plan helps you reassure customers, address their concerns transparently, and maintain a positive relationship even in challenging times.
  9. Preserving Market Value: A poorly managed crisis can have lasting effects on market value. Crisis communication planning is an investment in preserving and, in some cases, even enhancing the market value of your brand by demonstrating resilience and a commitment to responsible management.

Buyers are Craving Certainty

All B2B and B2C buyers crave certainty, stability, and trust. It’s been a wild and wooly five years, and this being an election year, there is a lot of uncertainty in the air. While inflation is starting to improve, buyers are still getting used to the “new prices” on items that have essentially stayed mostly flat for a decade or more. In exchange for their hard-earned dollars, buyers want to feel their purchase has been valued and that it’s with a company or product they can trust. Your company needs to be firing on all cylinders to secure new revenues, and buyers simply won’t tolerate actions that create instability or a disconnect between themselves and the brand.  This is another reason thought leadership still plays a crucial role in today’s PR.

This goes for actions big and small. This is why crisis planning is essential, but it’s not just a highly visible PR crisis that brands must stay alert to. If your CEO reschedules meetings regularly, that’s a red flag for potential business partners and media; it makes any and all PR more difficult to get lifted.