How can my organization get free press? I’m often asked that question. The answer, though it sounds simple, requires work. Yes, work!
You may be familiar with the story about Picasso in the diner. As it goes, Picasso was dining with a friend when a woman, recognizing the famous painter, stopped dead in her tracks. She interrupted him and, handing Pablo Picasso a napkin, beseeched him to draw something, anything, so that she could prove to her husband she saw the icon in person. After five minutes, Picasso handed her the sketch and said, “That will be $25,000.”
Shocked, the woman replied, “But that only took you five minutes.”
“Ma’am, that took me 25 years,” Picasso replied with confidence.
Just like talent is honed over time, relationships develop over time. A better question to consider is: What resources are we willing to devote to marketing (PR, publicity, internal and external communication, etc.)?
If your organization is serious about communication, be sure it is clear, concise, complete, correct, and courteous. Add to my Five Cs of Effective Communication, consistent. My podcast cohost and I discussed internal messaging in a recent episode of Marketing RVand its effect on corporate culture, external marketing and, ultimately, the bottom line.
An organization’s best ambassadors are its people, which is why internal communication is an important driver of external communication, or marketing. Properly done, marketing from the inside out will result in increased revenue.
Think of it in terms of rowing. When each team member is rowing in the same direction at the same pace, forward momentum is inevitable. If just one team member moves his oars in the opposite direction, momentum is interrupted as confusion and chaos ensue.
Below are suggestions for establishing groundwork that will lead to successful relationship building. Implementing these suggestions requires conscious effort, time, and talent.
· Ensure the company’s mission and positioning statements are well defined and clearly understood by all employees, from the CEO and executive leadership team to entry-level associates.
· Engage all employees through clear and consistent communication. People do not care what you know until they know that you care.
· Adopt a servant-leadership management style, creating touch points and building trust within the organization.
· Encourage employees to get involved in the community, creating touch points and brand ambassadors.
Using the above efforts as a springboard, the Business Development, Sales, Marketing, Communications, or PR Departments can use various traditional and new media channels to share the human interest and direct success stories.
Avoid these pitfalls when trying to get “free” publicity:
1. Do not wait until you need publicity to begin building media relations. Get involved in the community so that your organization or brand is a known entity.
2. Do not vie for the spotlight. Your organization, brand, or product will get more plaudits as a supporting actor.
3. Do not be self-serving in your messaging. Study your audience and deliver the story in their preferred style and through their preferred channels. Consider what the audience would find attractive. This might require telling the same story several different ways.
4. Do not make assumptions about your audience. Constantly research and conduct thorough audits to ensure effectiveness.
5. Do not wait until your company gets to a certain size to adopt professional internal and external communication. Too often companies relegate Marketing and Communications to the bottom of the priority list, making implementation of communication standards that much more difficult and costly.
6. Do not assume just anyone can effectively drive messaging. Hire a pro.