The Secret to Success: Plan Ahead
One of the most successful and least costly marketing approaches to raise company awareness is through public relations, the science and art of accurately promoting your company and its mission, products and services to the media and related publics. With 2003 just around the corner, now is an excellent time to develop a plan for making public relations work hard for you in the next 12 months.
The following are four recommended phases to a simple yet typical PR plan:
With your mission in mind, conduct a solid assessment of your top competitors, including what their main messages appear to be, what kinds of customers they're attracting, and what they're doing with press releases, articles and websites that you might be able to emulate and hopefully surpass in 2003. Are they very active in association publications? Is their website full of customer testimonials? Are they participating at a lot of industry shows and seminars? Do they have a growing portfolio of photos from buildings they have done?
Next, compile a list of what future additional company services or products you expect to develop in the coming year, and their approximate time of availability.
Develop a list of the key seminars, road shows or conferences that you want to attend and/or exhibit at in 2003, and in which months they occur. Offer yourself as a speaker, moderator or other presenter at one or more of the conferences that pertain to your field of expertise.
For example, if you know that Publication A has a focus on Segmented Retaining Walls in March 2003, and you have will be offering this service in February, March or April, you can make the publication aware of your timely introduction. Magazines are always looking for companies that are doing the things that the magazine is reporting on so they can get inside, "hands-on" information and quotes. Don't be shy; appearing in an industry magazine can be leveraged with your clients, architects, builders and owners to show that you are an expert in your field, not just in your region.
The best time to approach publications is anywhere from two-and-a-half to four months ahead of the publication date. Or if you know that you have a key service to be launched in the third quarter, you can make the announcement at an industry trade show closest to that date.
- Cost of any newswire distribution. Local and state wire distribution typically costs about $150.00, for example.
- Letterhead and press kit folder costs. Do you need new folders for your press materials? While most PR information is sent via e-mail and PDF files these days, there is still some call for traditional hard copy formats.
- Website content updates (if outsourced). Do you have an outside person whose website fees you need to include?
- Press release writing services (if outsourced). Similarly, is there an outside PR professional whose annual fees you need to incorporate?
- Fees for entering annual awards, competitions. Many programs require a fee in order to participate.
- Travel to/from conferences and/or trade shows.
About the Author
Linda VandeVrede is the principal of VandeVrede Public Relations, a Scottsdale, Ariz., company that serves clients nationwide. VandeVrede Public Relations offers expertise in public relations, crisis planning, issues management and analyst relations.