How to overcome 4 major PR obstacles

Landing pitches, attracting consumers’ attention, balancing responsibilities and handling crises are among the challenges that industry pros face. Consider these insights.

PR is changing.

Gone are the days of sending traditional press releases with boilerplate and headshots to an entire media list. Gone, too, is working independently of your organization’s sales, IT, marketing or HR departments.

This shift provides many opportunities for communicators who embrace new skills and help extend the frontiers of the industry. However, it also comes with challenges.

Here’s how you can overcome them, with help from speakers at our upcoming PR Daily World Conference:

1. PR pros’ responsibilities are staggering.

Communicators now wear multiple hats and must keep current with digital media trends, media relations best practices, crisis communication strategies and measurement. Many PR pros do double duty with marketing and social media, and the increasingly cluttered media landscape requires you to be skilled in writing, data analysis, marketing automation, strategy development andmore.

It can be overwhelming.

Luckily, myriad sources are available for lifelong students of PR. You can read up on best practices in industry publications and blogs, attend conferences and workshops, network with others in your field, or take classes to stay current or develop a new skill.

PR Daily World power tip: Check out how Jake Jacobson, PR director for Children’s Mercy, is spreading tales of “brave kids” and “brilliant docs” through its patients, news outlets and social media. Then learn from him as he shows how PR pros can tear down their organization’s silos and blend strategies and channels to boost the bottom line.

2. Crises can come swiftly, thrashing your reputation.

PR pros have always stayed mindful of potential problems that could affect their organizations, but because people can spread information—and misinformation—quickly through videos and social media posts, an online firestorm can take hold in a matter of minutes.

Recently, brand managers have dealt with the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria; other organizations have scrambled to address the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Many PR pros now have to worry about President Donald Trump criticizing their organizations in tweets.

The way to quell a crisis is to plan for one before it arrives.

That includes having an up-to-date communications strategy in place and a trained team that’s ready to spring into action. Some organizations achieve this by running practice drills. When you’re facing a calamity, reference your plan—but don’t forget to be as authentic and transparent as possible.

PR Daily World power tip: Sharpen your crisis response with tips from Vanessa Picariello, Norwegian Cruise Line’s senior director of PR. She’ll show you how to validate customer concerns while sidestepping trolls and how to tell whether a bad situation requires your immediate action.


3. It’s hard to stand out in a sea of content.

Sixty-five percent of B2B marketers say that their content marketing efforts are more successful now compared with a year ago. That’s great news if you’re trying to sell a client or executive on why you should be writing articles and creating videos and pictures, but it’s tough if you want people to favor your copy over everyone else’s.

You can enhance your writing by keeping your audience in mind, using active voice, cutting fluff andcarefully editing. Outstanding writers also know how to say more with less.

With continued practice and an eye for what makes stories go viral, PR pros can sharpen their copy and entice consumers to click on their headlines. Brushing up on your writing skills can help you more easily land media coverage.

PR Daily World power tip: Take advice on how to hook journalists from one: Amir Bibawy, Associated Press’ editor of breaking news and digital strategy, will tell you how to uncover stories readers care about, include visuals to complement your prose, and comment on a breaking news story or hot trend with a fresh angle.

4. Pitching is harder than ever.

As newsrooms shrink, PR pros’ opportunity to land coverage grows—but only if you know how to meet reporters’ needs by pitching relevant stories that their readers would click on.

Michael Smart says outstanding PR teams that pitch often (and well) land coverage roughly 15 percent of the time. Part of pitching well is standing out against a sea of emails: Fractl reported that 40 percent of writers get pitched more than 20 times a day.

Start by keeping your pitch and subject line short and sweet and by quickly telling reporters what’s in it for them and their readers. Doing thorough research can significantly boost your pitching success.

Many journalists want to get pitched via email or social media, and some—such as HuffPost’s Alexander Kaufman—have their information readily available:

However, Kaufman, who is a reporter on the politics team, probably won’t look too kindly on your plea to cover your new tech product or agency opening. Make sure you research more than your reporter’s name and email before hitting “send.”

PR Daily World power tip: Flex your media relations muscles by pitching a panel of journalists that include Bibawy, Kaufman and USA Today’s Donna Leinwand. Not only can you practice your PR prowess, but you can also receive real-time feedback on what works—and what falls flat.

You can learn from these speakers and more at our PR Daily World Conference at NPR in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 8–9. Save $200 off your registration by signing up here.

(Image by The U.S. Army via)


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