At HRmarketer.com, we work with hundreds of HR service providers, and what never ceases to amaze us is how some companies have rarely, if ever, sent out press releases or media pitches prior to signing up for our HRmarketer.com service.
And we’re not just talking about smaller companies that don’t have the internal staff or resources to handle their own PR – even larger organizations that don’t work with PR consultants or firms are guilty of infrequent or irregular distribution.
Why? Well, they say they just don’t think PR is effective marketing (see The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR), or they don’t have anything “newsworthy” to say. They feel their marketing dollars are better spent on advertising and direct marketing. They never get contacted by the media anyway, and so they’re lucky if they write one release per year and post it on their website.
Think of it this way – have you ever gone to a company’s website because you’re interested in purchasing their wares, or maybe you’re a journalist researching a story, and you notice that the last press release posted on their “News” or “Press Release” page was from August of 2001? It doesn’t matter what else you find on the site, because you’re probably not going to contact them and instead move on to one of their competitors.
That’s exactly how we feel. Public relations should always be an integral part of your marketing plan. PR is much more than fishing for possible media placements – it helps build your brand and generates sales leads. Keeping a consistent stream of news flowing from your company tells prospects, customers, competitors, and the media that you mean business.
You have exciting products and services. You know the pulse of your industry. You are thought leaders. You have a story to tell.
And tell it you shall. Whether you have the resources internally to manage a basic PR campaign – or if you’ve hired a consultant, firm, or use a service like HRmarketer.com, here are the basics you should consider when planning for PR:
Of course, once you’ve implemented your PR plan and you start sending out regular “newsworthy” and “timely” releases, stay regular (and we aren’t talking about eating more fiber either).
- Each month read the target publications of your industry. You don’t have to read 20 publications, but try to scan the top two or three (for example, if you’re in the recruitment and staffing space, read Workforce Management and Human Resource Executive).
- Review the editorial calendars of these pubs. This is where you’ll get some basic insight on what topics the pubs plan on covering throughout the year and will help you plan your media pitches and press releases.
- Put together your own “editorial calendar” to better plan for upcoming releases and potential bylined article pitches. What are the new products and services you’ll be launching this year? Why are these products and services vital to your customers and your industry? How are you differentiated from your competitors? What research have you done that would be newsworthy? What trends do you forecast in your space based on your internal research?
- Keep tabs on your competitors and read the press releases they’re sending out. How can you differentiate yourself? How can your “news” be more newsworthy than theirs? Also, read your competitor’s published articles and develop article pitches of your own.
- Formalize a press release plan for the year and draft the first few releases you’d like to send out. Minimally you should plan on sending out a release each quarter, but we recommend a greater frequency of once (or even twice) per month. (There’s a good blog posting on 101PublicRelations.com entitled Once Simply Isn't Enough: Frequency In Public Relations. One thing the post recommends that sometimes you should send out a series of press releases / story pitches, once a week, for a long period of time - ideally 14-18 weeks. That might be overkill, but the point is to be consistent.)
- Once your releases have been reviewed, proofed, and polished, make sure to send them to specifically targeted publications and journalists. This may include major HR industry pubs, business pubs, business journals, newspapers, newsletters, online publications, etc. Don’t send your release to every pub under the sun. If you’re a recruitment and staffing vendor, don’t send your ATS release to Employee Benefit News – send it to Workforce Management. And make sure the journalist you’re sending it to covers the topics you’re including in your release.
- You should also send your releases via a wire like Direct2Net, HRmarketer.com’sInternet wire service. Sending your releases via wire services will get them into search engines and related news portals, many of which are syndicated to a myriad of locations throughout the Internet. You’d be amazed at how many places your release might turn up – and the more it turns up, the potential for generating leads increases, and being contacted by journalists from publications large and small. And because increasing numbers of buyers in the HR space use the Internet to “shop” for potential RFP candidates, it’s important to be highly visible on the Internet – beyond just your web site. Sending a press release out over a wire service accomplishes this.
Find the resources to include PR in your marketing plan and then keep a steady drumbeat of news echoing into the void – somebody’s out there just waiting to hear from you.