The way in which you communicate is integral to successful PR and to do this you need to have a strong strategy in place. To put all of this into practice though, you need to have carried out a sound research. Research is a very broad term and can be broken down into categories such as industry research, market research, looking at what your competitors are doing (and how) and news tracking. Research should be a constant process too, because you need to be able to react very quickly to what’s going on in your industry.
Here are a few key ways that research can help with your PR strategy:
Finding your niche market
Above and beyond anything, you need to know exactly who your target and niche market are to establish to whom you need to sell your product or service. This will also determine the question of ‘how’ you sell it to them. So are you selling the product to adult females, teenagers, students, young professionals and what is the age demographics? It pays to get really detailed on this part of the research. Think about where your niche market interact online (if they do), what types of books, blogs, magazines or websites they read, what are their values, what type of lifestyle do they lead, where do they shop and how? Good market research involves far more than demographics – you really have to try and get inside the head of your audience. This will help you clarify your key message and how to communicate it in a way that resonates with your audiences. All the information and insights you gather can be part of the ingredients that go into planning effective PR campaigns, with the guidelines we’ve previously shared on this blog.
Choose your media
So you’ve got your campaign and message clear, you now need to research the types of media you need to use to get it out there. Consider channels such as magazines, newspapers, TV, blogs, websites, social media and direct routes such as roadshows.. Prioritise the options and decide where your budget will be best spent. Look at factors such as which media or direct routes will provide the most return or traction and in the fastest amount of time. You also need to make sure that the context in which you’re trying to promote your product or service is relevant or appropriate. If you’re approaching a magazine for example, you need to know that the readership of that publication falls within your target market and that your piece is relevant to the type of content that is published.
Build Relationships and Have a Fantastic Pitch
You’re very likely going to be contacting journalists, editors, bloggers, reporters and producers with your stories, and a key part of the research process is knowing the correct people to approach. It helps to personalise each communication – if you’re sending an email, know their name and why they might be interested in running your story based on something they’ve written/produced before. Your pitch or press release also has to be meticulously well planned and researched for it to stand out. And be prepared to answer any questions that may arise in the pitching process. So research the types of questions they might ask in advance.
Be at the Cutting Edge of your Industry
As already mentioned, research is an ongoing process so it’s wise to invest time to keep on top of what is happening in the industry so that you can react quickly whenever the need to do so arises. Look out for key networking and industry events that would be beneficial to attend. If a big part of your PR is online, ensure that you’re up to speed on the latest social media and online developments and trends. For instance, you may want to sign up to relevant online sites like econsultancy.com and follow trends in your area of business. You will also want to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and actively participate in special interest groups with other colleagues.