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Proven Public Relations Best Practices That’ll Take You 5 Minutes To Read (and Get You Results)

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I'm Laura
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Following simple public relations best practices remains a viable way to get visibility, drum up interest in your business, and build a reputation in your industry. Public relations is still one of the best ways to establish a presence in the market, build a community and share your expertise with your desired audience through a third-party (non-paying) endorsement.

As a longtime PR Director who’s worked on both sides of the editorial table as a writer and PR rep, I’ve seen what works and doesn’t when pitching journalists.

In this straightforward blog post, I’ll share public relations best practices that are simple, thoughtful, and proven to work based on 20+ years of experience in the business.

Let’s get into it.

Public Relations Best Practice #1 – Start With A Goal

Apart from gaining visibility for your company or yourself, you should always establish the underlying goal you want to achieve with the placement.

Like with marketing, your public relations efforts should support your business goals, or at the very least, bolster the brand’s overall image, and further attract your audience into your world.

So as you lay out your PR plan, consider your goal. Is it to sell books, drive people to your website, or hire you as a speaker? Do you want to be recognized as someone who would be a great addition to a board, or are you happy to share your knowledge in service to others?

When you create a PR plan, it should start with your goals in order of importance. That way, you’ll be able to identify the audience that will best help you accomplish each goal, which is the second public relations best practice.

Best Practice #2 – Identify Your Audience

While the focus is on the big names and bright lights (i.e. Forbes, New York Times, Unlocking Us, etc.), the right media outlet is the one with the audience you want to reach. That could be a small podcast with a solid listener base or a super niche blog with a great writer who gets your business.

You’ll see the best results when you focus on the journalist, producer, and audience you most want to reach and resonate with.

I often advise clients on my mission, Belong to Your Customer, which is a nuanced and empathetic understanding of your customers and what they seek. The same holds for audiences you hope to reach with PR. When you can understand what they’re experiencing, and thinking you’ll be able to craft your pitch in a way that is compelling and convincing to the decision-maker.

And, to do that, you must do your research.

Best Practice #3 – Research & Development

One of the biggest pet peeves I hear from journalists (and I felt this way, too) is that the people who pitch them don’t know anything about what they cover or what truly interests them or their readers.

To get your pitch opened, read and responded to, you must show your work by spending time reading, listening and watching the media outlets you want to be featured on/in.

This research will not only open doors but will also make you a better and more informed source/subject because you’ll know what they’ve already covered, what ranks well with their audience, their personal interests, and what the audience at large is consuming.

Once you’ve researched who is covering what and why their audience is interested in it, you can start creating and nurturing relationships with the people you’ll be pitching.

Best Practice #4 – Relationships

The truth is that public relations is primarily a business of relationships. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship between the PR person and the journalist/producer/editor, etc.

To build meaningful relationships, you must pay attention and engage; luckily, these days, it’s easier than ever.

I recommend choosing 3 or 4 reporters to engage with to start based on your goals for coverage.

Once you’ve identified the people you want to engage, you can do the following to get and stay on their radar:

  • follow the contact on social media and comment, share and like their posts
  • email them with nothing more than appreciation for their recent work
  • pay attention to their interests, and reach out to share information if appropriate. For example, “I saw this article after your tweet on. Check it out.”
  • look for opportunities to be helpful. News breaking or new trends emerging? Act fast and offer yourself as an expert or your product to make their jobs easier
  • establish trust. If you’re pitching a contact, follow through on your communication in timely manner and deliver on your promise. For example, be responsive and make yourself available if you’ve offered an interview
  • be personable. People on the other side of your email are … people! Use your personality to stand out as someone they want to work with.

Going beyond the basics to genuinely show interest and appreciation for the people you want to work with will serve you well and it’s one of public relations best practices that many try to bypass to their disadvantage.

Public Relations Best Practice #5 – Pitching and Follow-Up/Through

Once you’ve established your goals, done your research and identified your target contact, the time has come to write and send your pitch.

Demonstrate the pre-work you’ve done in your pitch, and make it compelling, clear, concise and convincing.

Here are the steps to an email pitch:

Subject Line: be clear, concise and add curiosity to the subject line

Hi {first name},

  1. Add a hook that will grab the interest of the recipient right away.
  2. Establish the fact that you are well-versed in the topic the outlet covers.
  3. Make your pitch, including why their audience would/should care.
  4. Use bullet points to suggest topics or angles to cover
  5. Offer the next step. Let me know if you’d like more information, images, etc. Are you interested in speaking to… about … . I’m happy to coordinate something based on your deadlines.

Close the email with a thank you. Respect and gratitude are key to building worthwhile, mutually beneficial relationships. Many PRs feel that the press owes them an answer and a yes. 

When you treat journalists as clients, they will appreciate the effort and respect you’re extending. The choice to feature you is theirs.

If you receive a favorable response, make sure you follow through on what you’ve promised. Send supporting assets, meet their deadlines, and ensure that you are responsive to all their questions. Bonus points for anticipating their needs, and making it easy for them to work with you.

In Sum – PR 101: Start With These Principles

In this blog post, I’ve shared the 5 public relations best practices that will set you up for success.

Earned media (as opposed to paying for ads, collaborations, and influencer plugs) is an exchange of valuable information for a third-party endorsement, which is why editors and podcast hosts are so influential — the stuff they feature has earned their attention and space.

Public relations can yield fast results (for timely stories) but more often, it’s a long game. Take the time to do your research and develop relationships, and you’ll see the benefits the work you’re willing to do that (most) others aren’t.

Hi, I’m Laura! I’ve been working in PR, Marketing and Communications for over 20 years, which is painful to type! Over the last two decades, I’ve worked in North America and the Middle East representing some of the world’s leading brands and personalities. In my last corporate gig, I was the PR Director for Michael Kors Canada, handling product, brand and personality PR.

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I've worked with entrepreneurs and corporate brands to sell their offers and communicate their value for over 15 years.

When you hire me, you benefit from my experience working with the the best marketing minds in the game (Tom Ford, Christian Louboutin, Michael Kors), because I've learned all I know from working with them.

If you're looking for a seasoned copywriter to capture your voice and the attention of your audience, you've discovered the numbers-obsessed, detail-possessed copywriter you need.

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Former luxury goods pr director, mama, coffee-obsessed lover of the longread

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