My first job in public relations was with an international nonprofit organization. I was blessed to have a terrific mentor—a former newspaper editor—who took me under his wing and really taught me how to write for reporters, evaluate news like they do and develop effective working with them.
We had a small staff and typically were overwhelmed with requests and things to do; frequently, we were putting out fires. We did very little actual media pitching, except for some of the large events we held.
At the time, my idea of media relations was when the phone rang we answered it, and if it was a reporter calling we did our best to be helpful.
When I went to work for a large PR firm, I was immediately introduced to the concept of generating publicity for our clients by coming up with ideas and angles for what would hopefully be positive coverage.
And, by the way, the clients expected ongoing coverage, so we sometimes had to be creative in coming up with story ideas and new angles.
As you think about publicity opportunities for 2018, the following are some topics to keep your agency in the news:
- Commentary about marketing trends/current issues
- Community involvement
- New clients, employees, awards, publications
- New services, office expansion, etc.
- Mentoring programs
- Pro bono work
- Guest columns in the local newspaper or business journal
- Articles in relevant industry publications
- Human interest stories about employees or clients (unusual hobbies, their community involvement, humanitarian work, etc.)
To expand on that last point about human interest stories, one of my favorites was an article our local paper ran about a real estate agent in the Nashville area who gives a portion of his commission for every house sold to sponsor impoverished children in developing countries. At the time the story was published, he was supporting 53 children in 19 countries.
Sometimes feature stories like this get overlooked internally, but they have great potential to build a brand.
Not only did this story generate positive publicity for the real estate agent, but it also was a boost for his company’s image. If I were looking to buy or sell a house, he’s someone I’d like to do business with because he’s a generous person who gives back to those less fortunate.
Goodwill like this is hard to quantify, but it makes a lasting impression in a way that no other marketing tool can replicate.