Starting a New PR Account is as Easy as 1,2,3 … 4,5

By Heather Markovich on July 18, 2013

When I was first asked to write for Core Creative’s blog I was pretty excited. I’ve been eager to share my thoughts about public relations, social media trends and other ideas, but since I just came to Core four months ago, I was a bit baffled when it was suggested to me that I write about “Steps to Starting a PR Account.”

Who? Me? The new kid on the block? That sounds like something for someone who has been here longer. But, then again, I’ve got the skills … the knowledge …

And when I really started to think about it … I’ve got the experience to boot!

Whether you’re sitting down with a new client account, or you’re a new PR specialist being given an already active account, there are five key steps you should address when starting media relations work.

1. Research- What the Heck Are They Up To?

Research should be your first step to building a PR account. No ifs, ands or buts.

Who exactly is this client? What do they do? What have their customers, competition and media been saying about them already? For starters, focus on the basics:

  • Go out and collect information by yourself. Your first source of research should be through information given to you directly from your client. After all, it’s their company, they’re the experts. Talk with them. Ask questions. Ask more questions. Get an unfiltered collection of information from your primary source.
  • Read. Media articles, books, journals, archives. Read it all. Dive into the body of evidence that has been collected. What has your client said before? What are others saying? How have they been positioned? Scour the available information in order to understand all sides.
  • Understand the audience. Focus on who your client does business with, and who they hope to do business with. Get to know their customers and what motivates them. Understand their pain points and the role they play in the sales process. Understand you audience’s needs and focus on how your client can give them what they want.
  • Know the market and their industry. Get an in-depth look at what the client’s competition looks like. Understand them, compare their offerings, position and messaging to the position you’re developing for your client. And by all means, make sure you become knowledgeable on the trends within your client’s industry.

2. Messaging and Targeting – What The Heck are They Trying to Accomplish?

You need to gain a clear understanding of exactly what your client hopes to accomplish with your PR efforts. Understand what they do and how they do it, but most importantly … why they do it. Everyone’s in business for a reason. Find theirs.

Use your research to identify your target audience and craft key messaging that conveys your client’s position. Highlight the very best about their business and speak to the motivators you’ve unlocked for those audiences.

With every communication, you are building your client’s brand. Make sure your messaging adheres to their brand values. Messaging is key to building your client’s story and success through public relations.

3. Media Lists – Who The Heck Should You Talk To?

Spending time on a media list and ensuring it’s up-to-date and thorough will make life much easier for you in the long run. Add any media outlet or contact you discover. But make sure you have the right people and editorial beats for your needs. Keep building it as you learn more and identify new contacts. Get your client’s feedback, and see if they can help you categorize which media outlets or vertical markets are a higher priority than others, particularly if you’re looking at specific trade or business-to-business publications.

But that’s not the end…

In today’s PR world you need to go one step further and make sure to connect with those media outlets via social media – especially Twitter. Reporters and publishers use Twitter as a resource and so must PR professionals. Creating a list on Twitter of reporters or listening for key markets or trends will make your Twitter check-ins a little less cumbersome and give you a leg up on your competition.

[pullquote align=”right”] … that came from understanding the media landscape and the opportunities it presented us. [/pullquote] 

4. Action Items – How The Heck Are You Going to Do This?

Now it’s time to determine how you’re going to deliver your client’s message. What kind of news will they have and how are you going to share it with your targeted media to reach your targeted audience? Maybe they need a new product release, or are interested in pitching innovative lifestyle stories or new initiatives? Do they need ideas to develop a tradeshow experience or will editorial meetings suffice? Go through your media list, check the editorial calendars and write an outreach plan for your client to see where they fit in their targeted publications. One of my first tasks with a client I was new to at Core was getting them set up as a speaker on a prestigious industry forum series. And that came from understanding the media landscape and the opportunities it presented us.

5. Measurement – How The Heck Will You Gauge Your Results?

This is going to be different for each client. Work together to determine the best way to report your results. With the work you’re doing to gain positive media coverage, and tell your client’s story, there are a number of ways to measure your success. Whatever you focus on, capturing and tracking your work is important so you both have a record, and you can assess, adjust and find new opportunities as needed.

Decide upon the frequency of your reports. This could be something as easy as a bi-weekly status report, a conversation spreadsheet and a monthly activity and coverage report. Find out what your client is most comfortable with, and adapt it for your needs.

So what exactly does this all do for you? Drum roll, please…

Only when you do this type of thorough 5 step planning can you elevate your media relations from simply informing your audiences that your client exists, to increasing the quality of your media coverage so you’re able to position your client as an expert at the forefront of their industry.

Heather Markovich is an assistant PR and Social Media Specialist at Core Creative. Follow her on Twitter @hlmarkovich.