As B2B marketers, we’re always attending seminars and talks on various subject matters to keep our skills sharp. Last week I attended BMA Milwaukee’s annual keynote, featuring a presentation about analyst relations from Jim Panagas, an analyst relations expert out of Boston. It was a great overview of the importance of analyst relations, but what struck me was how similar his philosophies matched my own beliefs about how to execute successful public relations.
After all, all great communicators quickly learn that you can’t get ahead without following some best practices. Of all the tips that Jim shared, here are the three I believe are just as essential in public relations efforts.
People are people.
Whenever I’m working with a new intern making media calls for the first time, my final words of advice to them are, “Just remember, they’re people just like you and me, trying to get a job done.” It’s easy to be intimidated when doing something for the first time, or even the 500th time, it’s easy to overlook that you’re not calling the big bad wolf.
Jim summed it up best, “Don’t fear what you don’t know.” Which ties in to the next point:
You can’t know everything, don’t pretend you do.
Prepping a company representative to speak with media is as much ego pumping as it is teaching talking points. It’s important to make a person feel empowered and comfortable before taking on such responsibility. But I am always sure to make one lasting point, don’t answer what you don’t know. There’s nothing wrong with the words, “I don’t know.”
As Jim shared, it’s an opportunity to show a reporter, or in his example an analyst, that you want to be helpful and only get them accurate information. It also provides an opportunity to follow-up, and give them more than what they initially asked about. Help paint a full picture. The goal is to be more helpful than competitors so you’re seen as a valued resource.
It doesn’t always have to be about business.
This gets back to the “reporters are people” point. If you can build a relationship with a contact, it will be a more successful arrangement for both parties. Jim is right; it can’t be all business all the time. Acknowledging that a reporter has interests outside of his or her particular beat can go a long way in continuing a relationship, beyond serving as a reliable resource (the most important relationship builder).
In summary, it all comes down to establishing human connections. Figure out how you can offer help to someone who is just trying to do his or her job. Build relationships with reporters by being responsive, helpful and courteous. They are people who are well positioned to be become advocates and promoters of your brand. And for the most part, they’re pretty nice people.
Rebecca Eckhart is a PR/Internal Communications Strategist at Core Creative.