When I was a little boy, my mother used to bounce me on her knee and say, “PR is all about getting your client seen in editorial spaces.” I would nod sagely in response and wonder when the next Farley’s Rusk was coming.
It was true then, and it’s true now, that editorial space is an important part of public relations. But it’s not the only space that PR targets. When we talk about the benefits of public relations in an organization, most companies and agencies view social media as a crucial part of the modern PR mix.
Social platforms are not so much editorial spaces as they are personal ones. It is almost the difference between professional vs. personal in terms of how you are targeting an audience.
If the client is an up-and-coming manufacturer of gluten-free, zero waste, eco-friendly, vegan cleaning products, then of course you want to get news and feature coverage in professional and national publications. Especially if the product is innovative and can leverage customer success stories that showcase the product’s benefits and value.
When it comes to social though, you aren’t targeting a big group of people in the same way. Yes, you want facility managers, custodians and other buyers to see your news and other content, but you can target using more specific metrics. They have X job title, but they’re also interested in Y.
Targeting for our hypothetical cleaning product might pair facility management job titles with an interest in Greenpeace, sustainability, veganism or any number of other green topics. The product speaks to their professional needs while its qualities appeal to them personally.
Over the last ten years, the weighting of editorial space and personal space has changed and will continue to do so. Most companies know why public relations is important. However, making it an ongoing success cannot happen on-the-fly. It needs careful forethought.
One of the crucial differences between PR for editorial space vs. personal space is scarcity vs. abundance. Editorial space has a fairly constant capacity month to month. There are a fixed number of publications you can work with, a fixed number of front covers, a fixed number of articles.
There is no end to the amount of personal space you can target.
You will never be planning a series of Facebook ads only for the tool to stop and flash you a pop-up that says there’s no more advertising space left on Facebook or Instagram, try again next month.
Where there is scarcity, you need to plan.
First and foremost, you need to establish working relationships with the salespeople at a traditional or digital publication and where possible, the editors as well. Working with them in advance allows you access to publication feature schedules as well as the ability to hold space in advance. You can build other parts of a campaign around scheduled coverage.
Getting content arranged early increases your chance that the editor will choose to place it on the front cover. Front covers lend gravitas to your brand and the features you place in industry publications, your own and those of your customers, allow you dedicated space to reach an audience.
Where there is abundance, you need to plan.
What editorial space offers you is a chance to stand alongside a few other companies in front of an audience and talk through an issue, or discuss a solution, that is relevant to them. Personal space isn’t like that. At all.
Personal space is like a dinner party that stretches off into the infinite. There’s always somebody just launching into a new anecdote about how their product, Whizzo Butter, is better than the competitors and now comes with not one, not two, but three great new features. They put a lot of money behind putting their content in front of the eyes of potential customers. They have to hire slick social media managers to make jovial and memorable responses to user generated content.
If you’re going to compete, you need to stand above them, reach more people and have fundamentally better things to say. If you sound like everyone else and do what they do you’ll flounder. Results will be limited, and you will simply be buying Mark Zuckerberg another ivory backscratcher.
Better quality content, delivered to the right platforms, with the right targeting puts you ahead. But all these things require strategic planning.
Quality content that outperforms your competitors needs time for research and ideation. Defining an audience to target, finding those rich veins of customer gold, takes time.
How does public relations help to promote a business? It helps get relevant news, product content and relevant information and solutions in front of the right professionals. Why shouldn’t it be an afterthought? Because you’ll miss out on editorial opportunities and your targeted posting will underperform. Mapping out a tactical approach for your public relations program, rather than flying by the seat of your pants, will help you stand out from the crowd in print and digital media, as well as on social media channels.
If you want to up your PR activities, connecting with more publications, targeting more professionals, to create success, then Mulberry MC can help. We have a team of expert PR specialists who can connect you to editorial and personal audiences and a creative team that can make your messages stand out, making B2B feel more personal and direct.
Mike McConnell is a Creative Lead at Mulberry Marketing Communications. An award-winning full-service B2B communications agency based in Chicago, London and Melbourne. He has years of experience creating and editing written work alongside developing ideas for a diverse range of clients across multiple formats. His mother is grateful he no longer sits on her knee.