Get Prospect-centric With Your PR

Often, marketers show up for today's evolving media party trying to bend readers to their way of thinking. But, as good salespeople have always known, it's all about them, the prospective customer. Now that customers are more in charge of the sales process than ever before, we have to reconsider how we serve our story as news -- and start a conversation -- with prospects, press and influencers.

Get Prospect-centric

Just as we strive to be customer-centric when selling products and services, marketers need to be press-centric and prospect-centric when we craft our public relations messages.

Instead of announcing a new product or service by just firing away at our audience and hoping they will be smart enough to recognize our value, we need to lead with the challenge, the common ground we intend to share with them. If our social media conversation is all about us, we risk becoming the boring -- and avoided -- guest at the party. Even if we are the host.



Is It News?

Editors are working the door at the news party, and one of their jobs is to only admit guest contributors who will bring in something new -- something that will be of value to their guests inside, the readers. Identify a topic that directly affects their readers, make the connection to your services and you may earn your way in.

Chances are good that what you have to say either reflects or bucks a trend, and real trends are news that industry press and followers will report on and discuss. Version 7.1 may leave them cold, but tie that announcement to a trend and you may be able to claim your place in the news forum. Big news in-house, no matter how much sweat and pride went into it, doesn't necessarily translate into headlines by itself.

Content, more than ever

Content marketing -- delivering valued content to create and sustain customer relationships -- can take many forms and just keeps growing. Publishing your thoughts can help you deliver content that is genuinely helpful while advancing awareness of your expertise.

In addition to the self-authorship of blogs or tweets, a published bylined article carries the weight of the publication's third-party endorsement as expert eyes on the industry. And as publications continue to diversify their value by creating email newsletters aimed at increasingly more specific target niches with interested readers, you too can zoom in on your prospects with content that is directly relevant to their needs.

Online discussions give us a chance to listen in, understand needs better from a prospect's perspective and then act on that knowledge to engage them further. Maybe you can also access focus groups or customer research, but you can always go to your sales team, put aside numbers, and find out what customers are saying about the challenges they face -- what makes their lives miserable or hopeful. You can use that information to shape news that gets valued exposure with customers and prospects.

4 comments about "Get Prospect-centric With Your PR ".
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  1. len stein, October 27, 2010 at 9:45 a.m.

    Yes, it is no longer "enough about ME. Now, tell me what you think about me."

    Today it is all about "We." and PR pros and clients better figure out fast how to communicate on a meaningful one-to-one level.

  2. Andy Cutler from Mercury, October 27, 2010 at 10:52 a.m.

    Excellent article Jim. You'd think in this "age of the customer" more marketers would take this approach, but there is still way too much chest-thumping going on out there.

  3. Robert Wheatley from Emergent -- The Healthy Living Agency, October 27, 2010 at 1:09 p.m.

    James -- Bravo. Nicely done. Good and concise overview of how PR strategy is evolving. I would go even a step further and say that consumer insight research is absolutely necessary to identify precisely how and where brands can become relevant in their PR messaging by helping enable, facilitate, sponsor and align the brand with consumer's own passions and personal interests. Put the product message inside that vehicle. Just did a post on related topic about shift in strategy.

  4. Gail Sideman from PUBLISIDE, October 27, 2010 at 4:45 p.m.

    This is a great way to explain PR to someone who doesn't understand it, and a super reminder to those of us to work with it each day.

    One of the oldest lessons of PR is to think like a reporter/editor and realize how your story will influence and impact an audience. Today's emphasis on "authenticity" makes that lesson all the more important.

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