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Tie PR Strategy Directly To Tactics For Best Results

One method for attaining higher quality results, is a PR process that embeds strategy within the tactical documentation for the client.

MediaFirst identifies the desired, future positioning for a client. This is a view of how the client firm wishes to be viewed in a year. Since most of our clients are privately held, we work for executives that have shareholdings in their firm and want to increase valuation. To succeed we use a technique applied by excellent, venture-backed companies. This technique establishes: a.) the qualification and capability of the management team, b.) the value proposition, c.) the pursuit of a market size large enough to generate revenues worthy of investor interest and strong growth, and d.) the team’s ability to execute effectively across creating customers, competitive offerings, revenue growth, and respectable margins. Our approach drives valuation, which enables attractive funding or exit, by communicating your successes to investors in their language. This has led to the acquisition of many MediaFirst clients. This positioning also supports merger, acquisition, or Initial Public Offering (IPO).

TARGET AUDIENCES: Reaching a desired audience is the prime goal of a client. Reaching the audience generates awareness and knowledge of a client’s offerings, value proposition, and successes. Target audiences are reached through media outlets: magazines, newspapers, Websites, blogs, social media, news wires, etc. Therefore, a targeted Media Outlets List is one of the first strategic decisions in PR. Embedded in the tactical, working documentation, the Client’s Editorial Calendar (EdCal), it becomes the basis for researching potential news stories – yet to be written over the next year. The tactical Client EdCal evolves into a tickler of opportunities for a client to be covered in an upcoming article. Each opportunity is a chance to “sell” the client’s story, spokesperson, case study, offerings, etc. to a reporter or editor. The result is an interview with the specific reporter or editor assigned to the story. This connects the reporter with the client spokesperson – and possibly the client’s customer, alliance partner, technology provider, or industry analyst. The scope of work is proportional to the number of targeted media outlets. Metrics that MediaFirst uses in assessing performance include: quantity of EdCal opportunities that “fit” for the client, number of interview opportunities acquired with reporters/editors, number of interviews conducted – or missed – by the client spokespersons, and the quantity and type of press coverage obtained by the client.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVES: The Proposed Press Release Schedule is the tactical document that MediaFirst uses to capture strategic initiatives of the client, scheduling the release of news and positioning each initiative in ways that match the desired positioning. This schedule is used to consistently release information on the client, covering the:

Management Team press releases describe how the client has the top talent that enables success. This includes announcing awards, promotions, hiring, and other newsworthy recognition of the executive management team.
Offerings include hardware, software, or services (products and services) that reflect the client’s ability to deliver what customers want – recognizing the emerging needs or opportunities for customers to be better served by the client than elsewhere. MediaFirst writes (press releases, newsletters, Web pages, brochures, etc.) in ways that prove that the client understands the needs of the marketplace and executes to provide better value for the customer.
Market: our writing describes the market served by the client and the importance, size, and client success in meeting that industry’s needs. In addition, MediaFirst writes to position the client as a thought-leader in identifying and meeting emerging needs of customers.
Ability to Execute: The ability to execute is shown through press releases that announce: new clients, alliance partners, new product or service offerings, winning awards, speaking at industry conferences, hiring the right people, and growth in revenues, profitability, or staff. For private firms, growth may be described in percentage increases – avoiding disclosure of exact revenues. Quarterly growth – or quarter over quarter growth over the period of a year – are examples of other, flexible ways to describe growth.

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Social Media Merging Online Reputation, Personal & Business

The online craze that is social media or social networking is creating a greater overlap between an individual’s personal and business reputations.

For most of us, this phenomenon is most evident from Facebook. Facebook is now the largest of the social media networks, closely followed by MySpace. MySpace, however, is a younger demographic or heavily entertainment (notably music) oriented. LinkedIn is what many of us believe is the professional’s online social network of choice. Yet, my rough guess says this is only true if you were born after about 1976, or so. If you were born earlier than 1976, odds are that the vast majority of your online connections are on Facebook.

The effect is that Facebook is only going to get bigger, having already secured the mindshare of the professionals and managers of the future. …and, although the LinkedIn crowd are not Luddites – in fact they are online in high percentages – this group can’t grow at the rate of professionals on Facebook.

This matters because the social connections and activities we do, while younger, are becoming documented on communities, such as Facebook.

As one looks at the entirety of social media offerings – and see the interconnections made by the OpenSocial standards – one can see how photographs, vacations planned, sports, and many personal events are documented and commented upon within Facebook or posted across all of your social networks via interlocking feeds.

For business professionals this requires two actions: the first is to embrace, not fear social media; and the second is two actively participate.

As a dear friend once said, “a friend is someone who knows you and likes you anyway.” What this really means is that people respond to authenticity – to the real you. Fearing social media deprives you of the opportunity and pleasure of knowing and working with people who appreciate you. This works for your employer, too. Customers seek the same authenticity in dealing with suppliers (vendors). Companies, like yours are comprised of real people – so be real.

Active participation is a key because you can’t be authentic, if invisible. You can’t get your secretary (personal assistant), mom, or child to be the authentic you online. Moreover, as social media adoption continues to take off, you as a professional, manager, or executive fall further behind in “getting it.” You don’t need to compete for the most connections, but you should seek out your real life friends and connect with them online.

In another blog post, I’ll cover what I believe constitutes a minimal professional (and business) presence for today’s social media.

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Client Top Ten Requested Traits

These traits have won us praise over many years:

1. Communicate well with me

2. Be competent and experienced, in technology and business

3. Establish good relationships and be a teammate of my staff

4. Demonstrate leadership

5. Be innovative and creative

6. Understand and address my real needs

7. Know and leverage the available resources for best results

8. Complete work on time and within budget

9. Be responsive

10. Do high quality work

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Awareness Is The First Step In The Process Of Customer Creation (Sales)

“Customer Creation” is the lifeblood and purpose of any business, according to management guru, Peter Drucker. One view of the sales cycle is that Awareness is the first step in the multi-step process of Awareness ~> Knowledge ~> Selling ~> Closing. Guide Prospects Through The Sales Cycle This process of creating customers requires identifying prospects and guiding prospects through a well-conceived sales cycle. The process of engaging prospects should lead prospects to awareness of your brand and towards knowledge of your offerings and value proposition. PR Is Selling The Client’s Story To The Media Our process of getting targeted industry press for clients is analogous to a sales process, in that we sell reporters and editors on using your organization’s spokesperson, clients, partners, or technology providers to complete a story. In our efforts, we seek to understand the needs of reporters and editors and meet those needs. Reporter’s needs vary from breaking news, to background on industry trends, to industry expert views on the changing shape of competition. We provide the service of helping the media do it’s job—by delivering spokespersons and interviews that make good stories. Identify Your Audiences to Focus Resources Sales efforts begin by identifying the audiences you wish to reach. In PR, the right media and publicity tools are conduits to your target audiences of investors, financial analysts, industry analysts, and prospective or current employees, business partners, prospects, or customers. PR is a direct complement to sales because it leads prospects through these first two steps of Awareness and Knowldge. Effective Programs Communicate Features, Advantages, & Benefits Clients see our public relations and marketing efforts clearly complementing their efforts to sell products and services. By understanding the relationship that you have with customers, we frame your value proposition in the very words of your prospects. Your offerings are framed in the authentic context of customer needs. PR Wins Third-Party Endorsement of the Media Public relations enhances awareness by endowing your firm with the third-party endorsement of the media. Your venture’s spokespersons reveal or address industry issues and trends—their quote makes them the expert. Our business experience covers business and technology, which allows us to better help the media by supplying newsworthy comment or story ideas that focus on you, your partners, and customers. Speaking Opportunities Reach Target Audiences Effectively Speaking opportunities leverage the valuable time of your most articulate spokespersons across large, targeted audiences. We manage opportunities by identifying desirable opportunities and securing your slot. Marketing Programs & Materials Educate Prospects Marketing programs, such as trade shows, conferences, direct mail, lead generation, Web sites, collaterals, and others, reach out to capture the interest of your target audiences — imparting knowledge about your firm’s offerings and value proposition.

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LinkedIn + Facebook + Twitter Lead The Social Media Charge For Today’s Business (& Business Professional)

Businesses and individuals increasingly see the value in online social media for industry connections or introductions and clearly for employment opportunities. Beyond these are company branding, business reputation management, and professional business networking. It is true that online networking can degenerate into the kind of networking event where you show up and everyone else is there to sell you what they have. But most online social networking can be contained to the important kind, not just a virtual room of vulturous vendors. “Old Style” professional connections are not dead, they’ve just met up with the latest technology tools. These tools, such as LinkedIn (very B2B), Facebook (evolving to more B2B from a college-oriented service at it’s start), and MySpace (very B2C and younger) let your firm have an online page or presence with it’s own fans. These connections are individuals connecting to the business. Some list current and former employees. They are increasingly tied to other feeds, maybe your great press coverage. In any case, a forum where your firm and customer experiences are discussed. Beginning to see the value in monitoring and participating? The better known online social media services enable personal or professional, 1-to-1 connections. These services provide access and information on you and your firm. Here is a minimal plan for a social media presence for you and the company: – Customer-facing employees should be on LinkedIn and Facebook, and participate – The company should have it’s own page on LinkedIn and Facebook – Employees should have a photograph on their LinkedIn page – most do not – Press releases and news should be aggregated on the company Website and probably via online services, such as del.icio.us (also now at Delicious.com), Digg.com, Reddit.com, or StumbleUpon.com – News and events can be posted on Twitter. Direct messages or replies on Twitter should be monitored, so you may respond – engaging with the audience for your firm. There it is, a straightforward way to implement social media at your company. Remember that these tools represent are an innovation – just like any new tool that you might adopt for the business – so think of Social Media tools as part of the company’s continual improvement program. (I’m a fan of W. Edwards Deming, a famous proponent of quality and continual improvement). Call Jim at 770/642-2080, x218 to talk more about social media for business.

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SoCon 2009, Twitter hash #socon09

Attended SoCon '09 at Kennesaw State University on 7 February 2009; also the dinner the night before.  Enjoyed the break-out sessions, on “Social Media For Social Change” hosted by Tessa Horehled ( http://atlantanstogether.org/) on “Online Etiquette: How To Balance Your Personal and Professional Image Online” hosted by Amber Rhea.

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Tweetup in Alpharetta

Attended the TweetUp in Alpharetta at the 5 Seasons Brew Pub on 5 February 2009.  Heard interesting customer service and sales prospecting examples that involved Twitter.com, especially from the guys at Ipswich.