Six PR Tips to Keep in Mind Heading Into 2018

Makenna Johnson
By Makenna Johnson

As we head into the new year, we want to put our best foot forward, keeping in mind all of the things we have learned over the past year – and boy have we learned a lot! That said, nothing says “best foot forward” like a forward-thinking public relations strategy! To ensure a bright and successful 2018, consider these tips your personal guide to all things PR for the new year.

1) Print publications are dying; Focus your efforts on digital

Over the course of 2017, dozens of prominent magazines and newspapers announced an end to their print editions and circulations due to declining sales and readership. NYLON, PeopleStyle, Teen Vogue and The Gannett News Group are just a few of the many popular publications that were forced to shift their focus to the digital sphere and cut print elements of their business. The decision to majorly cut print publications was a long time coming, since many of these outlets have struggled for years with practically non-existent hard copy sales. In the newspaper realm, Wall Street Journal, one of the premier new sources across the globe, announced an end to print editions in Europe and drastically scaled back their local news coverage teams domestically. With consumers increasingly wanting their news on the go, even the most prestigious publications can’t avoid the inevitable: that digital is the way of the future.

While the cutting of print editions marks the end of an era, there are many exciting benefits that digital offers. First and foremost, more people are online than offline! The internet is accessible from almost anywhere, opening the door to a much larger audience. When it comes to client placements, online gives you a much better sense of the reach you are getting through various analytics tools that enable you to qualify the value of your public relations. Because of the ever-changing readership of print publications month to month, it’s almost impossible to pinpoint how many people you are reaching. With digital, you get to look at the hard numbers, such as the number of monthly visitors you are reaching, giving you insight into the overall effect of online placements. When there is a link within an article, you have the opportunity to utilize Google Analytics to see referral traffic, behavioral metrics, and even conversions and sales dollars. Furthermore, links included in digital placements elevate your SEO initiatives and ranking efforts exponentially, essentially enabling you to hit two birds with one stone.

All of these tools provide you with invaluable data, to give you a more comprehensive picture of who your audience is and what they want. This not only helps you perfect your PR strategy but also serves as excellent data to refine and optimize your multichannel marketing efforts.

2) Don’t be afraid to go niche!

A lot of people are under the impression that unless you secure a top-tier placement in publications like the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, you won’t see results. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, niche publications often perform better than top-tier placements. When looking at placements driving sales, we have seen this happen time and time again, but why? Because niche publications are more directly catered to your target audience!

If you are working with a green, eco-friendly product, blogs that cater specifically to green living and organic products are a much better fit than top-tier news sources. The audience of this green lifestyle blog will most likely be more interested in your brand and will care more than a general broad audience that a top-tier publication draws in. While securing placement in prestigious publications such as the Wall Street Journal may stroke some egos, it won’t always deliver results. The quickest way to success is identifying the niche publications that fit best with your brand and pitching them! This is where you will find your target audience and see the most results. Additionally, with this catered approach you aren’t “spraying and praying,” you’re working hard and working smart to ultimately ensure the brand awareness your efforts generate, are with the most qualified potential customers.

3) Do your due diligence when researching editors

Nothing irritates an editor more than getting pitched for a client, product, or service that is not within their beat, focus area or general editorial coverage realm. This is why research is so important. I can’t tell you how many times I almost pitched an editor and then after some research, realized my pitch was not a fit for them whatsoever. So before you pitch anyone, make sure that they actually write about what you are pitching! To do this, look at their past articles, their beat, and all of their social channels. This is where you will unveil their interests and focus, giving you a better idea of whether or not they are fit. A little social stalking can go a long way!

Also, don’t be afraid to stroke their ego a bit. Let them know that you frequently read their work, what liked about a past article and then introduce your client and present why they might be of interest. The key here is to show the editor that this isn’t a spam email sent to hundreds, but a tailored message handpicked just for them!

4) Personalize your emails

Similar to doing your due diligence when researching editors, use the information you glean to incorporate things into your email pitch that they will know are specific to them. Editors hate when they get generic emails that are sent out to a mass email list. Even if you think they won’t notice it’s a generic pitch, trust me they will. By adding a little tidbit specific to the editor, your credibility will skyrocket. This shows the editor that you are willing to go the extra mile to find out something about them and will drastically increase your chances of receiving a reply. Put yourself in their shoes, would you be more likely to respond to a generic email or one that directly called out something about you?

Again, I strongly encourage you to check out their social profiles! Notice if they recently got married, had a baby or returned from a major trip. Congratulate them on these milestones or offer your personal anecdotes from similar scenarios. Essentially, you want to form a genuine human connection with these editors and these personalized introductions are a great way to accomplish that!

5) Don’t forget to follow up

More often than not, editors will not reply to your first email pitch. They often receive hundreds of emails a day, causing yours to get lost in their inbox. While this may seem discouraging, sending a follow-up email often delivers much better results. We have consistently seen higher response rates when we follow up a second or even a third time. Editors usually appreciate this gentle reminder and often note that they didn’t see the first email. This just goes to show how far a little persistence can go.

Keep in mind the line between persistence and annoyance is a fine one, so tread lightly!

6) Look at where your competitors are getting coverage

Identifying where your competitors are living online is a great strategic move on behalf of your client. It gives you the opportunity to capitalize on your competitors wins by reaching out to the editors and introducing your client and how it’s better. You already know that these editors write about your particular client, service or product, giving you an easy in. This strategy can also be extremely helpful if you’ve hit a wall identifying new media contacts. All you have to do is a simple google search and you’ve got yourself a brand new list of contacts.

Another useful tool for seeing where your competitors are living online is Moz. Using this tool, you can perform a competitor link analysis to compare your client’s coverage to their competitor’s coverage. To do this, you insert your client’s URL and several competitors and it instantly populates thousands of pieces of coverage. This not only helps to identify new publications but also uncovers fresh editors and story angles.

Wrapping Up

Securing solid PR coverage can be a daunting and sometimes discouraging task – especially when the responses just aren’t coming! By following the six tips above, you can help perfect your media relations skills and ensure a successful 2018 full of amazing media coverage.

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Makenna is a PR Coordinator and Account Manager at Power Digital. As a University of Oregon alumni, she studied Journalism with an emphasis on Public Relations, and has been passionate about the field ever since. Makenna spearheads SEO outreach and manages social media influencer outreach within the PR departement, building valuable partnerships with publications and influencers to elevate both brand awareness and ROI for our clients. Go ducks!