Clients often ask us why a long-term, sustained and robust public relations program is better than a short-term strategy that leverages one-off successes. This is a good question because hiring a PR agency requires a commitment of capital resources and manpower in order to see the benefit to the bottom line. ROI sometimes requires an “out-of-the-box” vision. Recognizing this as a reality, the truth is long-term thinking typically delivers the most impactful results for clients.
The long game requires a commitment to big, strategic goals while faithfully executing on the day-to-day tactics. Long game results can be extraordinary because the mindset changes how you conduct your business affairs and keeps your goals at the forefront. The key is to build the program with small steps, where each success gradually builds upon the previous one until a well-oiled communications strategy delivers consistent positive results.
So what are the characteristics that differentiate short-term and long-term strategies? To start, a short-term strategy typically lacks much real strategy at all. These PR “stunts” usually include hiring an agency for a few months to take a test run, but really a 90-day “getting your feet wet” experiment does not allow the media or agency enough time to get to know the client and communicate key messages in a sustainable and meaningful manner. The agency might utilize a media list that is only moderately accurate (depending upon their interest in your horizontal and vertical industries) and then, with only a few clicks, send the same pitch and middling news release to every contact. This tactic neglects a customized pitch that reporters today crave, as many agencies do not bother to research the reporter’s areas of expertise. Added to that is the likelihood of the PR agency not doing any kind of verbal follow up, which is a huge opportunistic miss for the client, as well as the agency sending a basic, yet quite valuable “thank you” follow up note to the reporter when their client is mentioned in their publication.
A long-term PR strategy builds a narrative in the media as your company evolves and grows. So much of impactful PR relies upon building relationships with reporters and editors at important news outlets. A long-term PR plan allows a client and the agency to develop, maintain and update these associations. Established relationships make it possible to deliver a credible pitch and attain meaningful coverage when the client has news. The long-term approach also provides a veritable treasure trove of actionable data around which we can together analyze and plan for future news postings. Combined, all of these build brand awareness and visibility to which the client’s business goals are attached.
Here are the top Five Benefits to the Long-Game Approach:
Create Long-Term Brand Value. It takes hard work, commitment and creativity to create a brand from scratch – whether an investment management firm or a technology start-up – to become a recognized leader. With sustained, thought-out PR outreach, you can keep your company in the news, which will lead to sustained brand awareness and visibility.
Support and Integrate with Business Goals. Recruiting, capital-raising, organic growth or selling your company down the road . . . whatever the reason for implementing a PR strategy, the bottom line is: if people have read about you in the press, all these functions are made easier because your company is already an established brand name. And, utilizing coverage by sharing on social media doesn’t hurt either. Reporters are looking for sources via Twitter – they like your sharing their stories; LinkedIn Groups create value as those seeking business deals really do read posts in relevant groups.
Media Relationships. A successful PR strategy involves the development of long-term relationships with key media. It takes many month’s work of careful dialog positioning for the media to understand and appreciate your value proposition. Regular “get to know you” meetings and company press releases help the media understand your own corporate infrastructure’s business and offerings. The time put into these relationships WILL pay off.
Long Game Ideas. We like to say that good thought leadership is perennial – it keeps on giving. A strong idea or a point of view on the industry that brings out your intellectual capital and puts you in the line of sight of key media outlets takes time to develop and implement, but the rewards are many. It gives you a clear, differentiated position that makes your strategy or offering stand-out, because you can explain how it serves the market or works in a portfolio. It also gives the media a hook to sink into beyond a self-serving press release.
Extension to Your Marketing and Sales Programs. PR is one leg of your external facing communications, the other two being marketing and sales. By fully integrating these three departments, you can drive much more successful outcomes and programs. And agencies, especially niche ones who concentrate on you, happily work side-by-side with your own internal marketing and sales departments.
As you invest in PR and measure outcomes, what starts small compounds into something more. The longer you play the long game, the easier it is and the greater the rewards.