PR – Don’t Do It

3 minute read

This is a post about PR, and more specifically, SaaS company PR.

I’m writing it as PR is a channel I have a love-hate relationship with. I know it’s a form of marketing that helps you grow, it’s also marketing I have spent a lot on and got the most unpredictable results and dare I say it, losses from.

Why continue to write about it and not just stop here and say, don’t do it, spend your cash elsewhere?

The short answer is, successful PR depends on who manages it internally, who is your external partner if you go down that route, resources and a willingness to be measured. Let me explain.

PR Builds Brands

Every SaaS company knows that you’ve got to increase company and solution awareness. Increasing awareness not only means you sell more now, you are building a brand, you’re creating long-term brand equity / value.

As you build a brand you find yourself selling more, as whether we like it or not, people like to buy from brands. It’s a safe choice. If it’s a toss-up between solutions, the brand wins.

There is no doubt that PR can help you build a brand.

How?

By proactively looking to get coverage that tells your stories and has a positive sentiment. But not anywhere. In specific media that have reach, authority and influence with your audience. For us that would mean places like TechCrunch and SaaStr, and influential blogs.

PR Defends Brands

Not all coverage is good so you are going to need to be looking for content that is exactly the opposite – has a negative sentiment, in media that have reach, authority and influence with your audience, in pretty much the same places, with the addition of social posts posted by customers.

PR Help Other Marketing Channels

PR is helpful support for other marketing channels like Social Media and SEO, increasing engagement and links that turn into traffic and sales. Not to mention providing social proof for buyers working their way through the buyer’s journey.

PR Influences Investors

PR is also great for investors. Especially before a raise. It inspires confidence and makes them feel good about investing in you.

But to make PR work ….

PR Needs Commitment

The thing about the type of PR I described above is it’s not something you do for a week, a month or a quarter. It’s something you do through-time. You can’t take your foot of the pedal.

Your recruited or appointed PR team can’t just make things up to pitch journalists. They need original, interesting and relevant angles on topics people care about this today.

This means being strategic and investing in things like research, creating cornerstone reference content, or even being contentious.

You also need to be tactical, which means being available to offer an expert opinion with an hour’s notice, or being able to find something to say when you’re having a slow week.

PR Needs Contacts

You can start cold in an industry. But it’s SO much easier if you can piggyback on someone’s contact book and influence. Which means you’ll need want to work with people that know the right people.

Ready?

Are you ready to commit your time and money?

It depends on the results and ROI I hear you say (I hope).

PR Measurement

We finally arrive at the most contentious of all PR debates. The measurement of value, ROI. We all know we need it but PR is not like buying media, it’s full of unknowns.

Will the angles you supply be enough to get the attention of the big fish you want? Does your brand have influence enough yet or are you just too new? Will their contact book, doggedness and persuasiveness get you the coverage?

This is where OKRs can really help. They could replace your PR reporting or KPIs easily and in my opinion be a better way of working. The process of agreeing them will certainly be eye-opening.

Here’s an example of a PR OKR for a quarter:

OBJECTIVE

PR that helps us punch above our weight

KEY RESULTS

Briefing calls / meetings with XX journalists / influencers

Coverage in [Target PR List] XX times

Referred website traffic from XX % of [Target List]

Get XX speaking slots at industry events / webinars

Doing Gets Results Not Planning

Having OKRs doesn’t get results, doing things that impact your Key Results gets results. So here are a few Growth Initiatives to get you started:

  • Create a list of publications and influencers
  • Create a list of industry events
  • Create a list of webinar partners
  • Plan and execute research capable of widespread coverage and becomes a referenced by the industry
  • Follow and engage with influencers on social media to create friendships

It would be great to see OKRs and Growth Initiatives you’ve used or can suggest as well in the comments.

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