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Get Your Head in the Game: 4 Foundational Musts for A Winning PR Strategy

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As the NBA converges in the Disney World Bubble, we are all excited to see the games finally starting. Whether you are hoping The Lakers will enter the playoffs or curious to see if Giannis Antetokounmpo will stay with the Bucks in 2021, the training and planning that has gone into these games is the cornerstone of everything.

The same kind of preparation is equally important when creating a PR, Content, Communications and Marketing strategy. In the current environment, creating a PR and marketing strategy that is on solid footing and will deliver competitive advantage is more than important than ever before. What are four foundational things that start-ups can do right now to ensure their PR and marketing plans and strategies are on a winning trajectory?

1. Evaluate Your Messaging
While your product or service might have dozens of patents or many different layers to its architecture or configuration, you want people to be able to quickly understand what it is and the value it brings to them. A good test of whether your messaging carries the simplicity it needs is to ask yourself, “would my grandmother get this?” It’s also important to evaluate how different stake holders across your organization are telling the story. Is the story consistent from product marketing to HR and sales to the C-Suite? Is it consistent with the way your product or service is resonating with customers? The best way to judge this is to compare how you view your products or services against how your customers view them.

Here are a few key questions to ask both internal and external stakeholders recommended in a Medium article on Strategic Messaging by marketing and product growth expert, Myk Pono. For internal stakeholders, get everyone in your organization to write the following:

  • 1 sentence problem pitch (What problem are we solving?)
  • 1 sentence competitive pitch (How are we different from our competitors?)
  • 1–3 bullet points of values we provide for customers (Why should customers buy from us?)

To understand how customers perceive your product, ask questions like these:

  • Why did you buy our product?
  • What problems were you looking to solve?
  • How do you use our product?

What do you like most about our product? What do you like least?

2. Conduct a Media Audit
Doing an analysis of how your story is currently being told by journalists, bloggers, producers and editors and how they are telling the story of your competitors is an invaluable first step to shaping your PR strategy and campaigns for the future. A media audit that evaluates current and past coverage and that of your competitors will help you better understand what resonates the best with your audience and why. You can get a lot of insight into questions such as, what pieces have gotten viewed and shared the most? Has past coverage
communicated the story you are trying to tell? In comparison, how are your competitors telling their story and how is that resonating with the media? A comprehensive, high quality audit also examines what narratives are getting the most interest and which reporters, publications, social media luminaries and online media outlets have the most influence. You can also get a sense of which conversations are the ones that you can absolutely and effectively contribute to, what pieces of the conversation you’ll be able to take the lead on and which topics are already being dominated by your competitors. To make the process easier, you can take advantage of several monitoring tools that are out there such as Cision or Critical Mention.

3. Check-In with Your Customers
Find out from your customers just how loyal they are to your brand in its current state. What would help you serve your customers better? Does your loyalty program need any fine-tuning to help keep your customers happy? Is there any aspect to your service that they hope you could improve upon? Is there a product feature or functionality that your customers have been asking for that you could provide in the future that would further differentiate your brand or expand your market? One way to glean this information is to conduct a survey, which can serve a dual purpose. By including questions about the current state of the business and the market in general, you can also acquire additional information that could prove valuable to your future content marketing or PR efforts.

4. Prepare to Be Flexible
“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When
you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the
teapot. Water can flow and it can crash. Become water my friend.” –Bruce Lee

Now, more than ever, it’s important to be nimble in your PR and marketing goals. As market conditions, product realities and sales challenges present themselves, businesses often pivot to develop new products, new capabilities and support structures. In the same way, businesses should allow for flexibility to pivot in their marketing and PR messaging, plans and tactics. Taking stock of other industry factors that might impact the effectiveness of your PR pitch or even some of the basics of your overall marketing strategy, such as pricing and promotion, is key. Don’t ignore what’s going on around you – it could make a huge difference to the success of your efforts.

As the NBA season progresses, it will be interesting to see what moves carry which teams to the playoffs. Like the preparation they need to get there, getting the momentum going for your business requires an initial step back to evaluate your PR, content marketing and social media strategies. Only then can you make the adjustments needed for victory.

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