The New Year provides the perfect time to reflect on what the past year has taught us in the world of digital PR. Whether that be understanding how it was that we were able to reach our goals or why we might have made a mistake and how we were able to rectify it, there is always a lesson to be taught through both positive and negative experiences we may have had. Real-life lessons provide a great way to help us perform better and achieve even more, and this for sure is a great resolution for the year 2022!
1. If you don’t succeed the first time, try again
One of the greatest things you can learn from is failure. Sure, failure hurts at first – who doesn’t want to succeed? But that certainly doesn’t mean you should give up, or that you are doing something wrong. Rather, failure provides us the opportunity to try out new methods so that our execution can be better next time round.
Perhaps your first pitch doesn’t get picked up anywhere. Try again and make it more punchy! This might help us develop a more effective writing style or technique, so that in the future, pitches catch the eyes of journalists.
Perhaps you aren’t pleased with how an interview went with a journalist. Practise! Understand where you went wrong – maybe you needed to know your content a little better or speak with a bit more confidence. By making note of what areas you need to work on, speaking with a journalist will be much easier the next time round as now you know the things you forgot about.
2. Manage stakeholders’ expectations
It can be hard to find the right balance of reaching expectations and also achieving success. Sometimes, if expectations are set too high, we can feel like we aren’t meeting goals even though we might be doing some great work! One way of doing this is to manage expectations of stakeholders.
For example, expecting several hits in top-tier publications such as the Financial Times or Forbes every week is not possible. In addition, sometimes hits in more niche publications might actually be more effective, but given perhaps a lesser-known reputation might mean this success is not recognised.
By explaining what is realistic and achievable, you can set goals that are both impressive and manageable to obtain.
3. Focus on the message not the platform
In a similar vein, it is not always about getting hits in top tier publications. The goal of PR is not just about ticking boxes of well-known newspapers or outlets, because if your news isn’t relevant to these platforms, it’s not going to have an effective consequence.
Rather, the focus should be on the message you are trying to spread. Perhaps there is an important piece of research that has been done on some life-changing medicine or discovery. Or there is a significant stat relating to gender equality that needs to be published. Understanding what the aim of your message is, and making sure it is sent to the relevant publications, whether those be big or smaller but more relevant publications, is a much better approach to distributing information. You will find it gets picked up by more journalists and captures the attention of the audience reading the outlet.
4. You need to provide value to the media
Understanding what research is interesting and what an audience wants to know about can really increase the success rate of a piece getting picking up. You need to provide value to the media – why should they pick your research amongst the hundreds of emails they are getting a day?
Making sure that your research is fresh, maybe through its perspective or findings can increase the relevance and thus uptake of your research. Maybe you need to adapt your research to the current climate it is being published in, or find a new piece of research that could provide some insights into what is going on in a political or economic news story. Through knowing what is of value to the media, and having the flexibility to serve this need can give your research an edge and make it of interest.
5. Going the extra mile makes a difference
Doing things that perhaps haven’t been asked of you or going the extra mile for someone can really help further a relationship or collectively increase chances of success. This ranges from proof-reading a professor’s work to help check for mistakes, practising with them before an interview to help build their confidence, to reaching deadlines early for journalists in order to ensure they have everything they need by a certain date. Sometimes doing a little something extra for someone can really help strengthen a relationship and demonstrate that you are someone to rely on. In the future, this might mean that a journalist reaches out you as their first point of call, or if you need help, someone is at the ready willing to offer!