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Five questions all PR teams should ask

PR doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves. Particularly in the boardroom. How can you boost the performance of your PR budget in a way that will get noticed by people who count? PR is an ideas-driven profession so whether you operate an in-house model or manage an agency, it makes sense to challenge performance to ensure the PR function, and the brand it supports, continues to develop measurable, high-impact campaigns that get noticed.

There are five important areas that too often get overlooked.

1) Do we have relationships with the right media?

Are the media that you are engaging with the right media? Is the coverage that you are securing in the publications that your target customers actually read? 

Print newspapers are still thriving in many countries, but are sometimes overlooked in our quest to make everything digital. This means the most influential media for your business may not be the ones you expect.

More than half the world’s adult population still reads a daily newspaper and the readership of leading news sites is not matched by a depth of engagement. Most (61%) of all British people still read a regional paper, and around the world the best regional newspapers can hold their own against some nationals.

National and regional media should be the focus for all brands, not just business-to-consumer, as the primary brand formers.

2) Is our content compelling?

An Aberdeen Group report recently found that while most companies (88%) claim to be implementing a content strategy, only 16% actually have a robust plan in place. Much of a company’s content can originate out of PR.

The PR team should create a content calendar that appeals to your target customers and regularly tells them something they don’t already know. Not inward-looking press releases talking about company news, products and initiatives, but thought-provoking views, thinking, commentary and opinions that help cultivate the brand.

Creative and strategic PR resources are so much better spent on this sort of content. Today’s news is about stories. Stories that are living, breathing narratives that can adapt to different, audiences, channels, devices and media.

 3) Are we making the most of this content?

Content is wasted if it only exists in one form. The PR team must ensure they present and disseminate high quality content, adapted for multiple formats; from bite-sized and long life articles to embedded visuals, video-storytelling and graphics.

With borders between the physical, virtual, online, social and mobile channels tumbling down and with 90% of B2B buyers now using generic internet search to make purchasing decisions, it’s important that effort is then made to ensure the content is spread, syndicated and socialised on the web.

4) Do we have a strong enough purpose?

According to Harvard Business Review, companies with a purpose are ten times more profitable than those without. Does your company have a purpose?

Is your PR aligned with your purpose? If not, it could be time to re-evaluate what you stand for as a business and explore whether it can be better articulated externally? Workshops with senior executives can often uncover great messaging that hasn’t made its way into the PR teams’ hands previously. It could spurn a new brand story and a whole new ethos for the company.

A brand story is why you exist. The ideas that your company thrives on. A blend of those vital bits of information about the company. Your 'why?' It has to resonate with people at a level beyond product features and benefits to create an emotional connection.

If a B2B buyer is emotionally connected to your company’s brand, then it’s highly likely that the buyer will consider buying from you.

A good PR function can do both the internal ground work to uncover your ‘why?’ and the external work to effectively communicate it.

5) Does our brand convey emotion?

Google’s research with Motista and CEB shows that emotions and branding are very much connected. Brand storytelling isn’t new, but the art of writing brand stories as effective pieces of online content is a task that only a PR person is equipped to do. That’s because the best brand storytellers understand the critical elements of fiction writing, which are skills that PR people have in abundance.

The first element of story design is having a plot. Journalists will tell you that good news doesn’t sell. So what does? Bad news. By this we mean tension, a struggle, some kind of conflict. Another technique favoured by the professional storyteller is to weave human interest into the plot so the audience can relate to the topic better.

Using storytelling techniques in PR stimulates the emotional brain and drives a response by the receiver. Stories that help shape how people see the brand and whether they want to buy from it. It is important to make sure your PR team articulates your purpose through storytelling.

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