Six ways PR professionals can (and should) ‘think like a journalist’

As a young kid, I felt I was destined to be a journalist. I wrote family newsletters and questionable short stories. I scored the editor-in-chief spot on the high school newspaper staff and eventually made my way to the college newsroom. But my career led me elsewhere, and I’ve spent nearly a decade working on the “dark side” of the media, as some (unfortunately) say.

 

While I may not be reporting or a big-time magazine editor, working with media is one of the primary responsibilities of my job. And, the truth is that media jobs and PR jobs are far more similar than we’re led to believe. From crafting captivating story ideas and writing compelling content to interviewing sources and maintaining a strong social media presence, the core skills of a journalist translate well onto the PR side of tracks (and vice versa).

So, let’s explore how basic journalistic practices apply to public relations.

 

Here are six ways we can “think like journalists” in our day-to-day roles as PR professionals:

 

Avoid selling and start (story)telling.

Journalists are quick to dismiss stories that seem too sales-y, and rightfully so. Similarly, as PR professionals, our first goal is storytelling, not selling. Sure, we need to include facts and figures, the “5 W’s,” and so on; however, these are just the building blocks and baselines to our content.

 

As storytellers, we must paint a picture, stir emotion and change behavior through words. Include extra details that weave in the five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. How many people were at the event? What did the chef’s award-winning dish really taste like? What sights and sounds overtook the banquet hall at the convention?

 

Help the audience visualize. The best content is rich with details that will hook readers and give them more than just a compilation of facts and quotes.

 

Know what’s newsworthy.

Generally, there are five key elements to newsworthiness: timing, significance, proximity, prominence and human interest. These apply across all kinds of content, not just media stories.

 

Is there a timely element? What does the article do for your audience? Is the topic close enough (geographically or otherwise) to your readers to pique interest? Why should people care? And, how does the story appeal to the audience’s emotions?

 

If you don’t know the answer to any of those questions, you’re not ready to tell the story.

 

Understand your audience.

Who are your customers? Who are your clients? And, who are the ideal readers of the story you’re hoping to tell? Be it a media hit, customer case study, blog post or e-newsletter, you must always know your audience and why they will want to read what you have to say. Spend some time carefully defining who you want to reach and figuring out their interests and behaviors. Then, and only then, can you truly reach them.

 

Research and verify.

All good stories are based on facts, and citing data will build trust with audiences and reporters alike.

From writing a media pitch, a white paper or a thought leadership article to compiling a media list or competitive analysis, research is always the first and most important step.

 

Who are your sources? Is there a study that supports your claim? What is the reporter’s beat? Is the reporter still writing for that outlet? What articles have already been written on the topic?

 

Ask yourself question after question until you’ve exhausted your options. Then, once you’ve compiled the information you need, review it, digest it and verify it. Double-check your facts and vet your sources.

 

We can’t be lazy. Someone will always know.

 

Strategically structure your writing.

There are a lot of facts, but there is only one story. As storytellers, journalists and PR pros must guide our audiences to the story. It’s our job to sift through piles of information and find the true purpose of the story. It’s also our job to tell it.

 

The most common method of writing structure is using the pyramid model. Your most important and most interesting content belongs at the very top of the pyramid. Since we only have mere seconds before our audience moves on, it makes sense to arrange writing from most important to least important, in case the reader jumps ship halfway through.

 

In addition to the order of our writing, PR pros can take another page from a journalist’s book by always thinking about campaigns and content in a broader sense. How can we take this one step further? Does this inspire a graphic or video? How many ways can we repurpose this to create more compelling content and reach more people? The sky can be the limit.

 

Mind the details.

Details matter and not just the details of the story (refer back to “Avoid selling and start (story)telling”). Just as journalists are expected to do, PR professionals are expected to heavily proofread their work. Names, titles, punctuation, dates, capitalization, attributions, AP Style… even formatting matters. It’s our job to be precise and represent not only ourselves well, but our clients well.

 

Journalism and storytelling are as old as mankind, and the basics of both are the same for us PR pros no matter the objective or the audience. By honing some journalism skills, you can craft stories and PR campaigns that resonate with the right people.

 

Can we help tell your story? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com to explore what Dittoe PR could do for you.

Tips for Successful Influencer Relations

Although it’s been around for decades in the form of celebrity endorsements, influencer relations is the latest craze in public relations and integrated marketing and is only going to continue to grow in relevancy. Rightfully so, too, because if done correctly, partnerships with influencers equate to a more personal approach to telling your brand story and thus generate brand loyally over time.

 

If you aren’t already incorporating influencer relations into your strategy, you are missing out on a huge opportunity. Working with an influencer can result in a number of things, including increased website traffic, social followers, new subscribers, brand recognition, and hopefully product or service sales.

 

First things first, though: Spend time identifying your goals and objectives for a social influencer campaign, as well as a clear understanding of your target audience. Once that is set, you can build your list of influencers – researching to find ones that align with your brand, have an engaging follower base, manage a presence across more than one platform, and showcase the ability to tell a story with each post. Influencers come in many forms – from celebrities to bloggers to creatives – so look far and wide to find those that are most likely to positively impact your brand and convert into engaging customers.

 

As PR pros, we have been bred to run successful media relations campaigns. We understand the research and creativity it takes to consistently secure our client’s a spot in the headlines. Whether earned or paid, successful influencer relations campaigns require just as much thought, strategy, and personalization.

 

There is not a hard-and-fast equation to follow when engaging with influencers. Instead, ensure that these relationships are specific to both the influencer and the brand you represent based on the desired target audience, deliverables, and outcome.

 

Here are a some of our top tips for your next social influencer campaign:

 

Lay out partnership expectations up front. Social influencer partnerships are often set up as an exchange of product and/or payment for social or blog content. Proposing a clear list of expectations – timeline, number of and type of posts, etc. – will set the partnership up for success from the very beginning.

 

Take the relationship beyond transactional. This rings true in media relations, too, and it’s just as important with social influencers. Treat them as professionals but don’t forget to be personable. Engage with them on their core channels and build a relationship before, during, and after the partnership.

 

Do your research. As previously mentioned, the personal brand of the influencer should align with the brand of the company you’re representing. Spend time reading their blog, scrolling their Instagram, or watching their videos to understand what content performs well for the influencer before proposing a partnership. Every relationship and partnership should be customized.

 

One post is not enough. Work with the influencer to build a partnership that extends beyond one post on one platform. Opportunities that engage with an influencer’s audience repeatedly are going to have a higher ROI by gradually creating better brand recognition and by extension brand loyalty. In other words, consider monthly partnerships with options to extend based on the success of the campaign.

 

Create a social media budget. These days, most social influencers require compensation, so be prepared to offer more than just a product exchange. Set aside a percentage of your marketing budget for influencer relations if it’s an important medium for your business. There is always room for negotiatian but be careful not to discredit an influencer’s work.

 

It’s not about the follower count anymore. Influencers worth working with should have an engaging and loyal audience. Also deemed as micro-influencers, those with fewer followers may have a higher ROI than those with tens of thousands of followers. Analyze how their followers engage with their content – such as comments and likes – and the type of content that performs best for their audience.

 

We’re no strangers to successful social influencer campaigns. Need assistance? Contact us for a consultation.

 

Homegrown By Heroes – PR with a (purple) heart

In July 2015, the Indiana State Department of Agriculture launched the first statewide, state-supported program – Indiana Grown – that creates a clearer designation of which products are truly farmed, produced and/or processed in Indiana. Through Indiana Grown, the term “local” started to take on an entirely new meaning.

Pence-launching-Homegrown-By-Heroes-.-270x180By focusing on its three major components – including educating consumers on the importance of buying Indiana Grown products, increasing sales and networking opportunities for Indiana farmers, and expanding support for Indiana processers in their effort to process more Indiana Grown products – Indiana Grown has already witnessed great success for its more than 400 members.

With membership on the rise, Indiana Grown is continuing to build its portfolio of benefits with the launch of Indiana Grown Homegrown By Heroes, a program that aims to recruit Indiana Veterans to the agriculture industry.

HomegrownThe launch of this program was celebrated publically at the Indianapolis War Memorial on Feb. 29. In addition to the presence of many Indiana Grown representatives and members, Gov. Mike Pence, the Department of Veteran Affairs, Homegrown By Heroes and the Farmer Veteran Coalition offered support at the press conference announcing the new veteran-focused program.

Homegrown By Heroes is a national program administered by the Farmer Veteran Coalition that includes more than 250 members in 43 states, including Indiana. By teaming up with Indiana Grown, the new program gives local producers who have served in the military the opportunity to use an exclusively-designed logo on their business signage and/or product labels. As a result of this added marketing logo, consumers can easily identify products made by Hoosier veterans and support them through every purchase.

As the PR agency on record for ISDA’s Indiana Grown program, Dittoe PR worked diligently to build awareness through personalized media relations, resulting in more than 50 pieces of TV, digital and print coverage in the first week since launch. Our team is thrilled to play a role in telling the story of programs such as Indiana Grown that focus on better supporting Hoosiers and Hoosier veterans in agriculture.