Imagine you’ve created something that’s going to have a huge impact—calorie-free, delicious doughnuts, for instance. So you’ve got these amazing doughnuts, but they aren’t going to sell themselves. You’ve got to get the word out, let people know the positive effect the doughnuts will have on their diets, why they should eat them, how they can include them in other recipes and where they can buy them.
To let people know about these doughnuts, you need a solid demand generation plan—a combination of marketing, advertising, PR and content marketing, designed to bridge the gap between marketing and sales, essentially creating demand for your product or service.
Several factors go into creating a successful demand generation campaign, such as eBooks, supporting blogs, email campaigns and paid ads. But one crucial element is often left out of most demand generation initiatives: public relations.
PR goes far beyond the crisis communications, press releases and talking points often associated with it. Using its principles as part of your demand generation strategy can make a huge difference.
As Meg O’Leary, co-founder of InkHouse PR points out, “We sort of think once we created [the content], we are 90 percent of the way, but in reality we’re only 50 percent of the way because if we’re not getting it out in front of the people who we want to see it, we are definitely not converting people or generating leads.”
Let’s look at why you should include PR in your demand generation strategy and how to do it successfully.
Successful public relations, like content marketing, is about one thing: relevant storytelling that makes an impact. Without that great hook, your content and your demand generation strategy are destined to flop.
PR can essentially “open” the door to the buyer’s journey by creating an awareness of your brand. This can occur in several ways:
A third-party article about your company or product
A guest blog post on a third-party blog
Tweets either from your brand or social influencers
A press release
But, as Doug Kessler noted above, it’s the quality, not the quantity that counts. So if you’re pitching an article idea, a guest blog post idea or a social influencer, be sure to communicate the value that publication or influencer will receive. Do you have some new data that can help someone improve his or her job? Do you have a case study with real reportable metrics that can inspire someone to tackle a problem differently? Do you have an expert opinion that hasn’t been expressed that can solve a pain point?
Think back to the pain points of your buyer personas. How does what you’ve created or will create in the form of a contributed piece help solve those pain points? That’s the key message you should be communicating when pitching.
You’ve got your content, and you know exactly what pain point or points it addresses. You’re ready to take it to the masses. How do you know which outlets to pitch or who to contact?
That’s where a media list comes in—but not a huge, long list purchased from PR software companies. We’re talking about taking a little time to do some research to come up with four or five publications you think best target your buyer personas.
How do you find what publications they read? Ask them. During interviews for your buyer insight process, ask your interviewees where they get their industry information. If you’re unable to ask them, think of the industry your buyer persona serves and some of the pain points he or she deals with, and research highly regarded publications in that industry. Chances are you’ll find a few, and when you do you can start formulating your pitches.
Let’s go back to the calorie-free doughnut example. If you’re targeting consumers, you might target publications that deal with food, recipes or health like Good Housekeeping or Food Network Magazine, for example.
Influencer Carrie Morgan recommends building your list twice. You've created a targeted list of relevant publications, now try using social media to build it again. What does that mean? It means finding the reporter or editor's social media presences—not just Twitter, all of them. This can help you see where they hang out on social media and the conversations they take part in. Do they Tweet requests for sources? Ask for help on LinkedIn? If you understand where they spend their time and the kinds of things they talk about, you can tailor your pitch even more. But just because you're following them on social media, don't become a stalker, just monitor for relevant opportunities.
Believe it or not, bloggers and editors are just like the rest of us—they don’t have time to sift through mountains of email or read irrelevant pitches. Before you hit “send” on that pitch, make sure you have the correct contact person. All it takes is a little research to find out who covers what. When formulating your pitch, keep it short and to the point. If you’re pitching an idea for a third-party article, briefly explain why their readership needs to know about your topic and how what you’re proposing can inform or educate their audience. If you’re pitching an idea for a contributed piece, explain your concept for the article, that it will be product- or vendor-neutral (remember, we’re still in the awareness stage) and any credentials of the person writing it.
For example, if you’re pitching a contributed article to Food Network Magazine or Good Housekeeping about four ways to include calorie-free doughnuts in your diet, you might include recipe ideas, the nutritional benefits of the ingredients you use and your credentials as an expert nutritionist in the pitch.
NewsFixed's Planning Editor Jack Whatley recommends creating a template. Writing a pitch shouldn't be time-consuming (remember, we're keeping it short and to the point). Use a summary template where you'll provide two sentences on the basics of the story—who, what, where, when, why—and then another sentence on why the story is newsworthy. Use this space to put the story in context, and use keywords that match the publication's topics of interest.
Sometimes your pitch will get declined or you won’t receive a response from an editor. That’s OK. You can use other tools to generate awareness.
On LinkedIn, everyone can use the publish feature. Write a series of articles on LinkedIn using the publish feature. For example, if you’ve written an eBook on selling bakery items like your calorie-free doughnuts, you can use each section of the book to generate an article. Just make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated before using this feature. If you’re going to generate awareness, you’ll need to at least have a profile photo, your current employment and a company page.
Unsure where to start? HubSpot's Carly Stec offers these tips:
Listen to your audience. What are they talking about on social media? What are their social platforms of choice? (Another helpful buyer insight question to ask.) If your content can provide an answer, let them know. Participate in LinkedIn groups and chime in with advice where appropriate. Create discussions about industry news, answer other people’s questions and ask some of your own.
Using PR effectively in your demand generation campaign can give your content the boost it needs to get in front of the right people. Effective PR not only helps begin the buyer’s journey, it can also help you form lasting and valuable relationships with editors and bloggers in your industry. And perhaps best of all, it’s free.