How to Time Your PR Right with Michelle Garrett @PRisUs #VCBuzz

How to Time Your PR Right with Michelle Garrett @PRisUs

In digital marketing timing is everything. It can give you a competitive advantage and bury your message in the heaps of clutter.

How to time your PR campaigns right? Let’s discuss!

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About Michelle Garrett @PRisUs

Michelle Garrett PRisUs is a public relations consultant and award-winning writer with more than 20 years of agency, corporate, nonprofit and startup experience.

Michelle Garrett’s articles and advice have been featured in Entrepreneur, Forbes, Muck Rack, Ragan’s PR Daily, Meltwater, Spin Sucks, Critical Mention, CIO, Upwork, Freelancers Union, Nation 1099, Prowly, SheKnows, CommProBiz and others.

Questions we discussed

Q1 How did you become a digital marketer? Please share your career story!

I’ve always been a writer. Long before I decided on a career path, writing was my first love. I worked on my high school and college newspapers, studied journalism (with a PR emphasis) and took every opportunity to write as much as possible.

It led to various roles in marketing & communications over the years. I worked at big & small companies, non-profits & agencies, always with an eye toward striking out on my own when the time was right.

Then, I started my own consulting biz, offering PR and writing services for clients. Social media took off, content marketing came into play, and it all seemed to fit under the PR umbrella, in my view.

I’ve continued to learn & grow as a digital marketer. The PR biz is constantly evolving. I continue to do what I love today – work with clients ready for the power of PR, social and content.

I grew up in a home with two self-employed parents – so I think that was pretty much always part of my view of the world of work. (-: My sisters both started their own businesses, too.

Q2 What are the best seasons for a PR campaign? Is there a month where you’d better stay away from investing in a PR campaign?

Really, anytime you have a newsworthy story to tell can be a good time for a PR campaign.

I will say that it’s tougher than ever to get the attention of high-level journalists and publications, with the 24/7 news cycle. As this an election year, it will be even more challenging. And holidays can be a tough time, unless you have holiday-related news.

The best approach in ANY season is:

  1. Look at what you have to say – your news/story
  2. Decide on your audiences – who do you want to reach with that news?
  3. Decide which publications would be best
  4. Target your message to each of those journalists/publications (avoid the shotgun approach) Targeting is always the key. A timely, substantive story targeted to the right journalist(s) is the winning formula.

Q3 How is PR different from niche to niche? Are there tactics that work for some industries that fail to work in others?

One approach I think is overlooked is targeting industry trade publications. These pubs have small staffs, generally, and are looking for news & stories. Pitching them product news or a contributed article can work very well in many industries.

Another approach that works well across industries is pitching data. Survey results, research, numbers – reporters respond very favorably to those. Don’t have your own research to cite? Cite another org’s research to back up your point (giving them credit, of course).

And, PR for B2C differs somewhat from B2B (I focus on the latter). For example, the cosmetics or fashion industries tend to use influencers more often.

Q4 What are some worst timing mistakes you saw brands made in PR (or even in marketing in general)?

Ha! Well, it happens pretty often. Just Google “Bad timing in PR” and you’ll see a bunch of examples.

One example I wrote about in a piece about “Is Any PR Good PR?” is Gerard Ratner, who inherited his father’s jewelry business and turned it into a multimillion-dollar enterprise. One day, in a speech at the Institute of Directors in front of an audience of more than 6,000, he made some comments about his business that were less than flattering. Within days, the stock price plummeted by more than $600 million.

A phrase was coined for this debacle, which is now known as the “Ratner effect.” Some use the term “doing a Ratner,” which means “really screwing up.”

A recent example that comes to mind that ISN’T funny is how many PR folks wanted to jump on the death of Kobe Bryant the day after it happened with opportunistic pitches. Death isn’t a PR opportunity. Empathy & common sense should be part of that decision making. Ugh.

Q5 How to determine your best timing for a PR campaign?

I always look at the calendar to see what holidays may be coming up, any major industry trade shows that might steal the thunder, that kind of thing.

A classic example when timing matters is if you’re aiming for coverage of a product in a holiday gift guide, some of those start looking for items as early as July for print editions.

General rule: When choosing a date for your #PR campaign, sometimes if it comes down to moving forward at the risk of losing some of your audience, it may be better to hold off.

Q6 What are your favorite PR and digital marketing tools?

Some of the tools I use most frequently include @buffer, @pablobybuffer, @grammarly, @googleanalytics, @unsplash, @mailchimp. I wrote it about it recently here.

For PR specifically, I like @meltwater’s database. If you’re on a budget, @mondotimes offers a free way to build media lists. It requires more work, but it can work well if you need to look at media by city, for example.

For press releases, it depends on your budget. Many of my small business clients use @PRWeb because it’s cost-effective. $289 is the price for their most popular wire distribution. If you have a bigger budget, you can look at @PR Newswire (both are owned by @Cision).

But ALWAYS pitch your news/press release, regardless of whether you use a wire service.

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