We spend a lot of time talking with and observing our customers. They are the best PR pros in the world, and the way they do their jobs shapes our product roadmap. Our mission is simple: build a solution that supports the best PR workflow for the best PR outcomes.
While many believe PR is an art, we are learning that it’s a science. There are specific steps the highest performers take, which leads them to higher rates of success, consistently, than their PR colleagues. If we can capture these steps and bake them into our product, we can help the entire industry deliver better PR outcomes.
One example is how these PR pros approach starting out a new initiative or PR campaign. Most PR pros – low performing to high – will typically start with the same first step: What’s the story?
How deep or shallow your PR team goes with this step ranges and is dependent on all kinds of variables. Indeed, sometimes the story shouldn’t be about more than the who, what, where and when. Other times, it should be all about the “why.” Some PR pros are great at developing step 1, others not so much. But very seldom will a PR team NOT start here.
Then in step 2 is where we see a big deviation. Whereas the majority of PR pros will immediately build a target “hit” list in step 2 – this could be media, analysts, investors, constituents, award organizations, influencers… any target -- the high performers do the opposite.
The majority of PR pros default to a mindset of playing the odds. The belief is the more targets you “hit” the greater your chances of getting hits. They cast a very wide net in the hopes of catching a few fish.
The high performers, however, don’t start with a list. They stay in the space of the story, and think about where and how they want to see the story play out. They aren’t worried about casting a large enough net, they’re worried about getting the best possible outcome.
For example, instead of aiming to get 10 awards for their company, they will think about the top 2-3 that will drive the best impact (leads, sales, reputation, etc.) and focus on nailing those. Instead of thinking about all of the media outlets that could possibly cover a story, they think about the reporter who is going to tell the best version of the story, to the right audience, to drive… you guessed it…business impact. They focus on the few influencers that fit that bill and almost always see a high rate of result for their effort.
They don’t start with a list. They start with the desired outcome. And across the board, they get more wins per pitch.
This is crazy, right? Try telling your CEO or client that you’re not going to get them all the hits they desire, but just a handful. See how well that goes, right?
Right. But let’s reframe that conversation. Instead of telling your CEO or client you’re going to get them a bunch of hits, \tell them you’re going to get them a bunch of leads. Or a bunch of people coming to their event. Or a bunch of sales.
You’ll have their attention. Then tell them how you’ll do it. It’s not by blasting a list of media contacts, analysts, award organizations, or influencers. The PR pros that get the biggest wins with the biggest impact execute their PR campaigns in highly targeted ways. They deliver the right story, to the right person, in the right way (see: relationships).
This is a major behavior change for the PR industry. PR tools have taught us to start with a list, even if you’re hitting each person on the list one by one. And yes, there are times when a story has a potential for wide reach, or you want as many influencers as possible at an event. Those are exceptions. When you have an important story to tell, make your step 2 the desired outcome. Ask, where do you want to see this story appear? What would the ideal outcome look like? Who are the right story tellers, not the most story tellers, for the audience we’re trying to reach?
Scary? Yes. Don’t believe me? Show me your highest performer on the PR team, and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t start with a list.