The PR Process: What’s PR and How to Start
When high school graduates are going into college, it’s safe to say that very few are going in as PR majors. Many – myself included – hadn’t even heard of it and had no idea what it was. I didn’t know what PR was for a long time, but I the more I learned about it the more I knew it was the right thing for me. When people ask me what I do and I answer, “PR,” I almost want to say something else instead to avoid the question: What is PR, is that marketing?
This is a super common question, and one that I haven’t yet found the best answer to. There are multiple ways to approach an answer: kind of, we work on the brand reputation, I do social media, we work with journalists to get coverage for brands. It was really amusing when recently I was helping a friend of mine pitch herself to a publication as a thought-leader, and though I’ve known her a long time and she kind of knows what I do, that day she had the epiphany of what it’s like to work in PR.
I drafted the majority of the pitch for her but wanted it to come from her, so I set it up in an email and told her to add links and some other things to it. We discussed the best approach for a story, and then finalized the pitch. She was excited to send it out; but then she asked me, that’s it? Yes, that’s it. She said she hoped it was good enough, and asked when they would reply. I had to laugh – I told her that we usually don’t get replies at all, and if we do they could range from a simple “no thanks,” a snarky comment, or receiving an opportunity. She asked if this was what my job was like, never knowing why something failed and hoping you had a good pitch angle, and she’s not wrong. But you get such a rush when you do get a reply and a story moves forward, and either way we’re always adjusting our tactics to get them just right.
Pitching and media relations aren’t the only components of PR, though important. We work with each client to deliver a custom plan based on what they need, comprising different elements such as social media, awards, speaking opportunities, contributed pieces, messaging strategy, product launches, trade show support and press events, website content, and product reviews are just some of it. It provides value by contributing to the reputation and overall awareness about a brand or company. If you’re starting PR efforts for your own company, there are a few ways to get started:
- Determine your goals: What would you like from social media? Where do you want to get published? What’s important for your company to convey?
- Figure out what you have time for: Getting started from scratch is tough, budget time to spend on each aspect and gradually increase it as you get more comfortable.
- Choose your tactics: social media (and which platforms you can commit to), awards, speaking opportunities, contributed pieces, messaging strategy, product launches, trade show support and press events, website content, and product reviews.
- Gather your assets: organize all of your photos and current company information into one place so you can start using it for awards, thought leadership pieces, and etc.
- Get going: start your tactics one-by-one, and track progress on it each week.
Measure your results over time and celebrate each success! Stay tuned for some special help on doing your own PR and social media from the Caster team in our new Caster Academy. Want to learn more about it or chat PR tactics? Tweet at me @LauraShoebell.