PR Planning 101: PR as a Content Engine

Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, said that “tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Your activity must be rooted in a plan designed to achieve a specific objective. If we agree that we should all think strategically, then we should all develop and follow strategy to achieve our objectives. That’s the difference between targeted messaging with meaningful tactics versus spamming and shooting air balls.

When creating your PR plan, keep in mind that PR needs to be part of an integrated campaign, not as a stand-alone pitching machine.

Think Beyond the Press Release

Powerful content is the backbone of any successful marketing or branding campaign, and it’s what public relations is all about. When done properly, a PR campaign creates content that caters precisely to a company’s target audience, and then reaches that audience in the places where it already is lurking.

Effective PR includes reaching a company’s target audience beyond a press release. It requires crafting interesting content that’s organically spread through social media audiences, makes its way onto blogs, and pops up in conversations. In many cases, the three familiar words “For Immediate Release” are nowhere to be found.

With publications continuing to shutter their offices and lay off reporters, they need your help delivering the news. This makes it easier than ever before to contribute content and work with publications to amplify that content.

PR Planning to Pump up Your SEO

You can no longer use wire releases to inflate your website’s organic ranking. Google is smarter than that and that’s good for you and your buyers. However, Google still places a premium on quality links to your website, which PR delivers through articles, Wikipedia entries, Reddit posts and other third-party sites. Bonus: you can still SEO-optimize your press releases for premium visibility, at least in the short-run, to land The New York Times or Genomeweb. Releases on the wire can also rank higher than your own content. But for media coverage, nothing beats sound PR strategy plan, a highly targeted media list, customized email pitch and a phone call.

This Doesn’t Mean Wires Don’t Have Their Value

If you post a press release to the wire, the media will NOT come. But releases still have their value: think VC news via Businesswire VentureBeat to target CNN Money or science news via EurkeAlert.

So…What About Social?

Social media can be a powerful tool to engage with your audiences and amplify your message. However, Facebook for business in life sciences is proving to be a dead end. Although nearly two-thirds (64%) use Facebook for personal reasons, only one in five (18%) use the site for professional reasons, according to our 2014 survey. Barely one in ten (11%) use Twitter professionally. LinkedIn is used by 63% of scientists professionally and is terrific for thought leadership positioning within targeted groups, for recruiting and networking, and for targeted advertising. And don’t forget the oldest form of online social media: one-quarter of scientists participate in discussion groups and forums.

Three Tips to Jumpstart Your PR Planning

  1. Contribute a Guest Column
    Regular guest columns used to be prized property and hard to attain. But editors are more open to this strategy in this content-starved world. Guest columns provide a permanent home and delivery vehicle for your content. No wasted time pitching. We’ve seen this technique work in niche trades, e.g., Food Safety News, through to top-tier business weeklies, e.g. BusinessWeek and Forbes.

  2. Quality Leads to Quantity
    Content may be king, but Crappy Content will never rule. So say no to lots of bad content and yes to high-value content. Even if you produce less content, if it’s good, you can do more with it. According to AdWeek, “one high-quality piece of content can be used over and over again to appeal to both current and potential customers.”

  3. Amplify Earned Media with Paid Media
    In the past, PR pros basked in the afterglow of a well-earned media placement. Nowadays, PR pros need to consider how to amplify that placement. For instance, Drug Discovery News will promote your news on its homepage and via its newsletter if you pay a sponsorship fee. Or take a paid vehicle such as a publication-hosted webinar, and pair it with a downloadable in-depth article written by your PR team. Cross-promote the webinar in the article to increase its visibility.

Why hire a PR team? PR practitioners are trained storytellers used to coming up with creative story angles to get past the world’s toughest gatekeepers: the media. Those same skills can be put to use in developing copy for your owned media (e.g., your website, blogs, social media channels) and paid media (advertorial copy, email campaigns) or by helping you create a fully integrated PR plan.

This excerpt come from Chapter 3 of our Life Science Marketing Field Guide. Ready for more? Get access to the full Field Guide below.

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