Whether you’re a start-up looking to punch above your weight, or a well-established company looking to solidify your brand, outsourcing PR is vital to driving demand for your products or services, says Rob Skinner, from Skout.

While there might be no doubt that PR will to take your business to the next level, have you ever considered what it takes to commit to an ongoing PR campaign? PR has to be a two way street, with your agency needing your commitment to make it a success. Sounds fair enough doesn’t it, but is your business really PR ready?

Based on our personal experiences of working in B2B PR for over 20 years, here are six key ways you can check that your business is ready to embark on a successful PR campaign:

  1. Do you understand why you want PR?
Where has your need for PR come from? You might feel that you’ve got to a point in your business journey where you feel you can and should step up your marketing and truly get your name known. But it’s about more than just filling up column inches with your stories. To be successful in getting positive publicity you need to establish who you want to target and how you want to communicate with them. Having your end goal in mind can shape how you approach PR too; eg. is your focus more on encouraging sales leads or building awareness of what you do? And don’t forget to look at other services that may better achieve your goals, such as website rebuilding and digital marketing, as PR in its traditional sense might not be enough for you.
  1. Do you have the required budget and internal resource?
While PR might can in time ‘pay for itself’, you shouldn’t outsource PR without first considering the financial or resource impact and establishing whether you have the budget for it. It takes time to get known and build reputation – you need to be in it for the long game. And while a PR agency is there to take much of the weight off your shoulders they also need input, from briefings on regular topics to swift content approvals. This is a resource that you should account for when considering PR.
  1. Do you have organisational buy-in?
Aside from you, do others in the organisation recognise and support the need to start making noise publicly? The results you achieve and their impact will be far greater if you have the support of the rest of the organisation – from senior management to product and technical experts. Getting individuals within the business to give their input into content can help gain an expert view and gain commentary to entice journalists. Much PR content, for example blogs and articles, needs to be attributed to an individual, so having willing spokespeople is essential to getting press coverage.
  1. Are you ready to be famous?
Successful pitching means having your name and face in the media, meaning that not only will it raise awareness of your business, but you as an individual too. Ensure that you and others in the business are prepared to become a familiar face in your sector, and ready to face possible media interest off the back of this. Many PR agencies offer media training, which can ensure that you say the right things and weave in your company messaging correctly in press interviews. It’s vital to understand the rules of engagement. While a lot of PR content can be pre-prepared and checked, generally what you say in a media interview will be published without you getting the chance to vet it.
  1. What’s your story?
So you’ve won the support of the rest of the organisation and are all set for your PR journey. But what original topics or issues can you explore to interest the press? It might be tempting to navel gaze and only think about the stories that you feel directly promote your business, such as a new office you’ve opened or an award you’ve won. But while these are factors that can get your message across to stakeholders, the ongoing battle for press coverage means that you need stories more original than that. Your experiences with customers gives you an insight into the big market issues in both your sector and that of customers, and that’s how you can create content for the media that really resonates with key stakeholders. But remember that your PR team is rarely as clued up on your sector as you are, so it’s worthwhile working with them to develop key subjects that they can translate into creative press content.
  1. Do you know how to integrate it with marketing?
PR on its own can deliver some great benefits, including building brand awareness, but when it’s integrated with wider marketing the results can have a far greater impact. Using press coverage to build your digital presence and using content such as research as a basis for marketing campaigns can marry up PR and marketing in a way that reinforces the two. And to truly measure PR’s impact, ensure that you check whether business leads or website views were directed from press coverage.

Implementing a PR programme for your business isn’t a case of flicking a switch. You want to maximise the impact that investing in PR will have, and some of the factors above are essential to do this, while others could take your PR activity further than what your competitors are doing. Once you can tick the boxes that make a PR-ready business, you’re on the road towards seeing your company’s name splashed across the pages for good reason.

By Rob Skinner, MD at Skout

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