It’s usually easy to figure out when to call a plumber. You turn on the shower and there’s no hot water, or your basement suddenly looks like the kiddie pool at Busch Gardens. It’s the same with your car. If it doesn’t start in the morning, something clearly is amiss and you might want to check with your mechanic.
Your public relations campaign, however, is a bit more art than science, so it’s not always as easy to tell whether it needs the eye of a pro. But here are a few tips that can help you determine when your own efforts have run their course:
- Sporadic Response from the Media: When you send out repeated press releases or pitches, and no one responds, that’s an obvious clue. However, some campaigns start with a smattering of response – a few nibbles in the first week or two – but a month later everything goes silent. When this occurs, it’s definitely time to regroup. Another red flag is when you get a few media inquiries, but most of them elect to pass on your story after your follow-up to their response. That could mean many things, but one reason might be a disconnect between your pitch and the information in your release or website. If you get more than one or two of these interrupted cycles, take a closer look at the information the media is viewing about you. Try to see it from their point of view so you can identify whether something might be chasing them away. It’s rare for anyone in the media to take the time to respond to a pitch or release but then pass on the story afterward. They don’t have a lot of time, so they normally won’t waste any of it pursuing a story they aren’t reasonably sure will fit their needs.
- Requests from Advertising Salespeople: A pitch that’s overtly commercial will likely be turned down by most editors and producers. However, those pitches will sometimes be flagged and sent to the advertising department as potential customers. So, if you’re getting a lot of response from ad managers who ask if you’re interested in buying advertising time on their show or space in their publication, that’s likely a result of your pitch being too sales oriented. The news media isn’t interested in helping you sell something. Their goal is to inform, educate and entertain their audiences enough so they’ll keep watching, listening or reading. News people get offended when anyone tries to take advantage of their pages or airtime in an effort to garner potential customers. So, if you’re getting sparse response from the news side of the organization, but lots of unsolicited phone calls from ad salespeople, chances are it’s time to seek help adjusting your message.
- Conversion Rate: Let’s say that your PR efforts have netted you a decent response, and you’ve gotten solid exposure. But, while you’re bringing many new potential customers to your site, only a tiny percentage are actually making a “buy” decision.
Sometimes it’s due to the design and functionality of your site, but in most cases, the bigger problem is your copy. It’s not delivering your message, or worse, the tone is off-putting to your customer base. The copy must connect, engage, educate and motivate the people who find you as a result of your PR campaign. Your website is an important point of sale so if it isn’t “telling your story” well enough to encourage that buy decision, then it’s time to change it. Unfortunately, one mistake people make with their websites is they hire a webmaster to fix what actually is a content issue, not a technology problem.
It isn’t always easy to figure out why your PR effort has gone awry. But when things aren’t humming along the way you hoped, it’s time to step back and see if you can approach the problem from a different angle.
As is sometimes the case with plumbing and auto mechanics, the solution might even be a simple fix – if you just know where to look.
P.S. If you’d like professional help getting interviews with the media, we’ve been arranging interviews for our clients on radio and TV, and obtaining editorial coverage in newspapers and magazines for more than 26 years. We also offer a comprehensive social media marketing program for select clients, where we do it all for you. If you’re interested in our help, please call us at 727-443-7115 Ext. 231. We’d love to hear from you!