Are you taking full advantage of the power of public relations to achieve your corporate goals? From earning media coverage and increasing public awareness of your brand, to driving sales and attracting potential funding sources, PR can help accomplish many objectives, making it a valuable weapon in a growth-stage company’s arsenal.
But with so many other demands on your marketing budget, it’s easy to give PR short shrift. Perhaps you are focusing on lead generation activities, where ROI is easier to quantify than the results of PR. Instead of distributing higher-level press releases on a regular basis, perhaps you spend the bare minimum on PR, putting out only occasional low-level releases that never gain enough traction to lead to third-party coverage.
Avoiding these common mistakes and using PR wisely can influence everything from your company’s web traffic and lead generation to buyer and investor decisions.
Source: Inkhouse, eBook: Read It, Watch It, or Tweet It – How Americans Read and Share News.
Here are some of the goals that a well-planned public relations program can help you accomplish:
Differentiate your company and build your brand
In a crowded, competitive marketplace, PR helps your brand stand out to prospective customers, partners, employees, investors and other stakeholders. Starbucks, Zappos and TOMS shoes are among the many successful global brands that have relied on PR to craft their companies’ images.
Build brand authority & credibility
Press releases are by far the most trusted source of companygenerated information. Americans age 18 and up are 11 times more likely to trust press releases than to trust advertisements.1 But press releases themselves generate even more credibility when they lead to earned media (third-party content, such as third-party blog posts, online or print articles, or TV and radio coverage). Studies have shown that expert content earned via PR is the single most effective source of information in impacting consumers’ opinions about a company.2 Consumers consider expert content more credible than any other type of content, including advertisements, social media and online reviews.
For public companies, the use of PR and wire services is required by law to ensure that a company’s material news is disseminated in a broad and timely manner. But PR plays an important role for private companies as well. No matter how successful your business model is, word of mouth alone is not a sufficient public relations strategy to generate awareness of your business among potential investors. Utilizing press releases on a regular basis lets potential investors know you’ve “arrived,” enables you to prove that your business model is viable and allows you to share news of your ongoing growth.
One study found that greater dissemination of press releases can increase firms’ visibility, which broadens their investor base.3 And Forrester Research reports that:
13% of visitors to PRNewswire.com are individual investors seeking information about a company as an investment.4
Nearly two-thirds of these investors (62%) visit the site on a regular basis.
38% of these investors visit PRNewswire.com daily
“Investors are just like prospects, and published articles or references on third-party sites reduce the perceived risk in doing business with your company,” said Chris Golec, the CEO of B2B marketing technology firm Demandbase, in his talk at South By Southwest in 2014 titled This Isn’t Your Mom’s Way of Raising a Round. “I often follow up investor meetings by sending a recently published press release or article to reinforce a message and add credibility.”
Investors are not just looking for the financial media’s commentary on a company’s press releases; they are seeking news straight from the company as well. Whatever stage of growth your firm is in, and whether you are seeking angel investors, venture capital, crowdfunding or pursuing an initial public offering, building a consistent PR presence increases the chances that investors will take an interest in your business.
Support your exit strategy
Appropriately leveraging PR early on in your business’s growth builds brand awareness, enhances your company’s reputation and gains the attention of potential investors, supporting a successful exit strategy—whether your exit is planned for the nearterm or long-term. Studies have shown that the stock of public companies that employ PR on a regular basis trades at higher valuations than the stock of those that do not. For example, one study that investigated the impact of press release dissemination by public companies found that greater dissemination of firm news lowered bid/ask spreads, increased trading volume and lowered idiosyncratic volatility.5
Before the advent of Internet search engines, press releases were designed for and distributed solely to a small audience of journalists. Today, however, press releases distributed via wire service reach a wide variety of websites and are exposed to the general public online, not just to members of the media. As a result, your press releases can be found when prospective customers search for the products or services your company sells, can drive traffic to your company’s website and can directly increase sales of your products or services.
Maximizing the Benefits of PR for Your Company
Clearly, PR can play a key role in helping your company achieve a wide range of growth goals. How can you develop a successful PR strategy that makes the most of PR’s benefits? Follow these best practices:
START EARLY AND BE CONSISTENT
PR is an effective tool for growing your company, but as with all types of marketing, you cannot expect to get instant results or see results from a single press release. It takes time to build visibility for your company when thousands of other companies are competing for attention, and it’s important to do more than the bare minimum in order to attract notice. Increase your PR strategy’s chances of success by promoting your business via press releases early, frequently and consistently.
One approach that is typically very successful is to “roll out” your brand in stages. Begin by promoting your company via press releases sent to smaller, lesser-known media outlets, such as local publications, television networks or radio stations. Once you earn media coverage in the smaller channels, build on that success to reach out to big-name media outlets such as national magazines, newspapers and television shows.
A successful rollout requires developing a plan early on for creating and distributing a consistent stream of content via wire services. Consistency is key: Be patient and give your PR outreach sufficient time to produce results. As your business grows, your ongoing PR presence will have a cumulative effect, gradually building reputation and visibility.
MAKE PR PART OF AN INTEGRATED MARKETING STRATEGY
PR is a key element in your growth plan, but it is only one element. In order to succeed, your PR plan must be integrated into a multichannel marketing strategy that includes demand generation, social media and advertising. All of your marketing efforts must work together toenhance and amplify each other and support your brand. For example, your press releases can expand on topics that are raised in your social media posts or to promote interesting new content, while your social media channels can be used to share your press releases with a wide range of audiences.
DEVOTE APPROPRIATE RESOURCES TO PR
In order to achieve your company’s growth goals, you must commit adequate resources to PR. This can be a difficult commitment to make, especially knowing that you will not see immediate results. However, if the budget, time and resources that you dedicate to PR are commensurate with your company’s growth objectives, your efforts will ultimately have a positive effect.
UNDERSTAND THE “NEW WORLD OF PR”
While in the past, a press release might have been sent to a few dozen journalists with the goal of earning media coverage in a few industry publications, today your press release could potentially be seen by thousands of potential clients, investors, partners and other stakeholders. Even press releases that do not result in media coverage are accessible online, where individuals discover and share them via search engines and social media. As a result, organizations with successful PR programs are more visible than their competitors through search engines, social media and media outlets.
With this knowledge in mind, your company’s press releases should be planned for and targeted to a wide range of potential stakeholders— not just journalists. Press releases should include keywords and calls to action targeted to the specific audiences you hope to attract, such as potential customers, partners, employees, investors and other stakeholders. They should also be easily shareable on social media in order to amplify their message.
PROACTIVELY DISTRIBUTE YOUR BRAND’S PRESS RELEASES
Leveraging wire services is an effective way to rapidly expose your brand not only to journalists and influencers, but also to the wider world of customers, investors and other stakeholders. For instance, distributing press releases via PR Newswire promotes your content to a broad range of media outlets and websites, including major news sites such as The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! and CNBC, special interest sites, radio stations and television stations, increasing the chances that they will be seen by the widest possible audience. As new viewers see your press release in these outlets, they will share it among their social networks, spreading your message to entirely new audiences.
Understanding the new world of PR and successfully distributing press releases via wire services can help your company achieve a wide range of growth goals, from building awareness and driving sales to attracting investors and supporting a successful exit strategy.
Press releases are by far the most trusted source of company-generated information. Americans age 18 and up are 11 times more likely to trust press releases than to trust advertisements.
Studies have shown that expert content earned via PR is the single most effective source of information in impacting consumers’ opinions about a company.2
“Investors are just like prospects, and published articles or references on third-party sites reduce the perceived risk in doing business with your company.”
... one study that investigated the impact of press release dissemination by public companies found that greater dissemination of firm news lowered bid/ ask spreads, increased trading volume and lowered idiosyncratic volatility.5
In order to succeed, your PR plan must be integrated into a multichannel marketing strategy that includes demand generation, social media and advertising.
About the Author: John Viglotti
John is responsible for the development of PR Newswire’s products and services to enhance the visibility of public companies with institutional and retail investors and the financial media.
In 2010, John launched the first monthly virtual investor conference series, which has introduced several hundred companies to tens of thousands of institutional and retail investors.
In 2009, John formed Quantitative Targeting LLC (QT), focused on the creation of algorithms that measure the compatibility between a public company and institutional investors to aid IR professionals in their buyside targeting efforts. Prior to QT, John was VP of Content Strategy for Thomson Reuters.
He joined Thomson in 2006 with the acquisition of Georgeson Shareholder Analytics (GSA). As Managing Director of GSA, John had P&L responsibility for North America and led product and service development, sales and marketing and directed the collection of security ownership and investment manager profiles. Product development at GSA included the development of a global stock surveillance and shareholder analysis team and dashboards for IR and institutional sales and trading.
John began his career in the financial media industry with a SEC based newswire, Federal Filings, which was acquired by Dow Jones.
Viglotti received a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and Computer Science from American University and a MBA in Finance and Investments from George Washington University.
1. Inkhouse, Press Releases: “The Most Trusted Form of Company-generated News”
2. Nielsen, “The Role of Content in the Consumer Decision Making Process”
3. Eugene Soltes, “News Dissemination and the Impact of the Business Press”
4. PR Newswire, “Engaging Individual Investors: Insights into PR Newswire’s Online Audiences”
5. Eugene Soltes, “News Dissemination and the Impact of the Business Press”