Whether the task was a new business being launched, the number three firm in an industry aiming to be number one, or promoting an upcoming event, advertising is usually the first and biggest spend in an integrated marketing campaign. A decade ago, Public Relations was often forgotten.
Not anymore. It is now widely accepted that “earned media” offers better value than advertising and carries a validated message since it is not the client telling their own story, it is delivered by a trusted media commentator. A newspaper article or TV news story is considered three to five times more powerful than an advertisement because of the credibility of the reporter delivering the story.
Since Peak Communicators began operation over a decade ago, we always excelled in one specific area: media pitching. In client pitches I always mention that PR companies are all different. Peak’s pitching team can help a company reach new audiences, achieve top-of-mind awareness, establish a leadership position and enhance their image. We are a secret weapon for many successful businesses. Peak always delivers, and usually we deliver big.
Think of our staff of consultants as storytellers. All PR firms can write and issue news releases. At Peak we do it better because we get on the phone, repeatedly facing the possibility of rejection. We do it the hard way because we know we can be much more persuasive that way. We regularly land the big interview because of this approach. Often, because we believe firmly that the story is right for the media outlet, we’ll lean on a relationship and tell the person why they must do the story. Often an intense plea is hard to resist.
One of my favorite examples of a persuasive media hit was when I was pitching a CBC News Arts Producer based in Ottawa about a story that was taking place in Toronto two days later. She had many reasons why she did not want to do the story. However I insisted she had to do the story because it had all the elements she was looking for and the sale of a priceless painting was going to be a life-changing moment in a charismatic woman’s life. We were rewarded by a three minute story on the CBC national news with Peter Mansbridge.
The next time I spoke with the Ottawa-based producer, she said the only reason she did the story was because I was so enthusiastic and insistent about it. In the end, she was glad they did the story. It was heartwarming.
Whether we tell stories about 7-Eleven’s Slurpees, an innovative design in a new real estate development or a technology company’s new product, we deliver the pitch with energy and passion. That’s why the media coverage we produce is impressive.
At Peak Communicators the elevator pitch is a way of life; and we pitch media every day of the week on behalf of our clients. It is what we do. . . and we do it better than our competitors.
I’ve got a short story for you. Two friends decide by text message to meet for coffee.
“What time works for you?” says Marla.
“How about Thursday at 10:00 a.m. at Starbucks?” says Jen.
And then the conversation stops.
Fast forward to Thursday at 10:15 and Marla is waiting, cooling latte-in-hand, for Jen to show up.
“Where are you?” Marla texts Jen (secretly blaming Jen for suggesting a time and then not showing up).
“I didn’t think we were getting together!” Jen texts back (secretly blaming Marla for dropping off the face of the earth).
It’s a textbook breakdown in communication, and in professional settings it can have disastrous consequences.
The funny thing is, the solution to this problem is the easiest and most effective communications method out there, yet many people don’t do it: Follow up.
Here are some amusing excuses people make so they can avoid following up:
- “I already told so-and-so about our meeting/task/deadline.”
- “They’re a grown-up and don’t need reminding.”
- “I’m too busy.”
- “We already have an understanding.”
- “What I have to say doesn’t matter.”
- “I have nothing to say right now.”
- “This issue isn’t a big deal.”
Actually, it is a big deal. That one little message can save a lot of time and mental energy. Marla and Jen would have saved a lot of grief if one of them had simply followed up to confirm that 10:00 on Thursday was a go.
Unfortunately, following up does have a cost. You’re going to have to take the time to say or type a short message. Tough, I know.
But the results can be rewarding – even wonderful.
How to follow up as a communicator
- A quick status update reassures colleagues, clients or journalists that you’re still working on their project, and gives them a better idea when they can expect the results
- A “Did you have a chance to look at my pitch?” can get a journalist to retrieve your story pitch from the heap
- A quick scheduling reminder helps clients and journalists remember to connect for interviews – saving everyone the time and hassle of rescheduling
- Dropping a journalist who is already covering your story a line saying, “Did you need photos or anything else for this story?” helps a news outlet produce a great piece of coverage for your client, and shows journalists that you care about their needs
- A thank-you boosts everyone’s spirits and reinforces positive relationships
How to follow up to build your team
Following up internally will boost your team’s morale and efficiency, and you don’t have to be the team lead to do it.
Motivation can drop in a team that doesn’t communicate simple things like, “Thanks for your message. I got it.” When a team loses touch over time, a subtle sense of non-caring infiltrates the project, and that can seriously dampen morale and motivation.
“But I have no news to tell my team! What’s the point of saying anything?” you might protest. You don’t have to have any news. A simple follow-up of, “I’m still with you,” will help your team members move forward with more confidence, because they know you’re still supporting them.
Obviously, giving kudos to your team members is a great follow-up too, as long as it’s sincere.
But it’s not just about making everyone feel warm and fuzzy. Following up with your project team helps you identify issues that might otherwise have been swept under the rug, only to pop up in the future as full-fledged problems.
So instead of trekking alone and scared in a barren wasteland of non-communication, take the time to regularly invest just a few words of follow-up with your friends, colleagues and clients. You’ll produce relationships that are more positive, teams that are more effective and goals that are more focused.
Some words you can say
If you’re inspired to do more following up, but don’t know where to start, here are a few phrases you can borrow:
- “Just wanted to let you know that I’m still working on ____. I’ll be done ____.”
- “How are you doing with that thing? Any way I can help?”
- “Thanks for that thing you did. I appreciate it.”
- “I’m following up to confirm that we’re meeting at that place tomorrow. Does that still work for you?”
- “I got the ____ you sent. Thanks!”
- “Thanks for letting me know. I’ll give this some thought and get back to you.”
Please feel free to follow up in the comments section below.
Tags: communication, correspondence, effective communication, Public relations
Last week, two PR agencies from Brazil and Jakarta also announced their partnership with IPREX.
IPREX is a global network consisting of 60 independent PR firms that operate in 100 cities with more than 1500 professionals.
“We’re happy to welcome Mason Williams to our international network,” says Ross Sullivan, Partner at Peak Communicators. ”As IPREX continues to expand, so does our ability to better serve clients on a global scale.”
Peak Communicators (Vancouver) and The Communications Group (Toronto) represent Canada in IPREX and are linked with 125 other PR-offices globally.
Mason Williams, operating out of London and Manchester with a reputation for its results-oriented creative consumer brand work in toys, hair care, luxury, automotive, wine & beer and sport, with particular expertise in hotels and hospitality.
Established in 1986, Mason Williams has expanded its international work, with companies seeking to market golf resorts, property and hotels in mainland Europe to the UK.
The agency has built a strong digital practice, covering the subject from virtual reality to media evaluation, and also works in crisis preparedness and control, including specialist training to senior executives in handling their business reputations.
Clients include Two Sisters Food Group, Radisson Edwardian Hotels, Schwarzkopf, Henkel, Marriott County Hall and Accor Hotels.
Tags: agency, communications, communicators, global PR, IPREX, Public relations