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November 16, 2014 / Stephanie Vermillion

A PR Gut Check for Media Relations and Measurement

PR Gut Check for Media Relations and Measurement“I just got the expired platypus beanie baby and she’s the coolest thing ever!”

“Yeah? So what!”

It was my common childhood comeback – hiding my awe in a friend’s new toy – or, gasp, expired beanie baby – by asking “so what?”.

But today, “so what” has a new place in my life, and it’s not a band-aid for childish jealousy.

“So what?” is the critical question I ask myself during all PR activities.

It keeps me honest when preparing pitches and news releases and savvy when compiling PR measurement reports. And here’s how “so what” can help you (from platypus beanie babies to impressive PR).

Ask “so what” before you send a pitch.

Let’s say you’re writing a pitch or release about a client’s new app that helps moms cook dinner remotely (make believe and too good to be true, I realize). It’s easy to follow that simple “XYZ company launches new app for moms” format, but easy doesn’t always mean effective.

When you’re preparing that new product pitch, take a step back and ask yourself, “so what?” Why does it matter? You might answer …

Well, it’s the first time the company has developed an app.

So what?

Well, the app is innovative, and uses new technology the company – and the industry as a whole – has never seen before.

Yes, that’s interesting but … so what?

Well, the app lets you remotely get dinner started so you can save time, eat earlier and get more accomplished at night.

Wow.  Say no more. That’s without a doubt media worthy.

As you prepare those pitches, continuously ask yourself why the journalist’s audience would care. Usually you’ll want to take the company out of it (unless it’s a very well-known brand) and focus on the news. If it’s covered by the journalist, the company name will follow.

Once you reach that newsworthy nugget – in our case an app that helps mom/dad become more efficient with remote cooking(!!) – you have a much better chance to break through the journalist’s email overload and land that story.

Ask “so what” for a solid, vanity-free measurement strategy.

We’ve all compiled those measurement reports that list out placements, impressions and (sigh) CPMs. Fortunately digital tools are helping those metrics go by the wayside, and a quick little “so what” will ensure you’re looking beyond vanity results like impressions or increased Facebook likes to see what really matters.

Let’s move into example time. Say you’re getting ready to send results from a Facebook contest to your client. Here’s how “so what” can help. You may start with …

We saw a spike in followers (100+ new) and 50 percent more post likes than the previous week.

That’s nice. But “so what?”

Well, we had 30 percent more followers click on the links in our posts than the previous week.

Getting warmer, but I still have to ask … “so what?”

Well, Facebook drove 35 percent more traffic than the previous week, and of those visitors, 15 percent clicked through from the landing page to our product pages.

There’s your win.

It would be nice to report a Facebook-referred sale (and by all means do so if you see one!) but that’s not always the case. Purchase decisions sometimes take quite a while.

But, if you get a new consumer to click through several products, you’re building awareness and ensuring your brand is top of mind when it does come to that purchasing decision. And that’s much more important than 100 new likes on Facebook, don’t you think?

Whether it’s pitching a journalist or landing an account, today’s PR world is more competitive than ever. You have to tell the right stories and provide business-oriented metrics to succeed.

Yes, “so what” was an immature way to handle beanie baby jealousy in the past, but it’s a critical gut check to make sure I’m doing the best work I can in the present.


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