Five surefire ways to become a PR superstar

By Filomena Fanelli

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Often after a CEO or executive director sees a competitor steadily in the news, heading up conferences, in key photo opportunities, rocking the social media world and accepting awards, I’m asked what it is they can do to capture some of that spotlight too.

Why is it that some companies seemingly are everywhere, telling their stories while others struggle to get their due share, even though they are doing incredible work or are deeply committed to helping their local community? For many, the big secret to a company’s publicized success is robust public relations.

In today’s ultracompetitive business environment, company owners and their teams can’t just “build it” and expect customers to come. I recently saw an entrepreneur lament on Facebook about how his tourism-related operation grand-opened to a less than full house. In his regretful post, he noted that he probably should have gotten the word out with some PR, but he simply expected the crowds would be there. Too little, too late.

Whether you head up a real estate, finance or construction firm; brewery, bank, not-for-profit or even a nursing home, harnessing the power of PR can be greatly beneficial to your business’ outward reputation. No doubt, others in your industry already are calling upon public relations professionals and their talented teams to help them become PR superstars and are reaping the rewards.

The best news? A strategic, well-executed public relations campaign is often within financial reach and typically more budget-friendly than splashy advertisements, radio blitzes and billboards, although these may also be part of a smart, complementary marketing plan for your business, depending on its goals.

Here are five tips to get you on track and shining like the star you are:

Get a nose for news.

Start by reading the newspapers in your region and trade publications in your industry and looking at what news is being picked up, along with who is reporting it. Does your business have similar stories to tell? Perhaps you’ve promoted two employees, executed a fundraiser for an area nonprofit, been appointed to a board of directors, launched a new product or gained a new professional designation. While bigger picture pieces and top-tier news coverage are often within reach, it’s important to establish a base of coverage within your immediate sphere of influence so that you have a history of being a reliable media source — and the SEO to show for it.

Be a thought leader.

You’re an expert at something, otherwise you wouldn’t be in the business you’re in, right? Be a resource to the media by sharing that knowledge freely and openly. Author guest columns, op-eds or even a short Letter to the Editor. Compile a list of tips and make yourself available for interviews. Offer to speak at industry events or take part in panel discussions. Lengthy articles and public speaking not your style? Try starting off small by blogging and regularly posting to social media to share relevant content with key audiences. The right posts will let others know what you do best and convey your expertise in a way that is both helpful and engaging.

Meet them where they are.

News stories happen each and every day and these days, with the lightning-fast speed of online media, content needs are greater than ever before. If you tie your ability to contribute relevant news to breaking events — legislation that affects your industry, recently published reports or statistics or an event in your community — or a story pitch to regularly scheduled holidays or events, you’ll widen your reach.

Step away from that desk.

You can’t be front-and-center from the confines of your office. Getting out and networking in person opens the door for developing new, close connections and provides opportunities for talking with others about your business, honing in on that elevator pitch and being present for those photo opportunities. Supporting causes that are close to your mission or getting actively involved in local organizations and chambers of commerce also has many benefits, including heightened visibility and an understanding of what differentiates you and your business from the pack. Great public relations starts with strong relationships, so while you are busy building that social media profile — also an essential — be careful to make it a supplement to, not a substitute for, meeting others in real life.

Watch for awards, conventions and events.

Identify appropriate opportunities to present or emcee at events and apply for awards for excellence. While these submissions often take plenty of time and effort, they are well worth it. Aside from the pride of seeing young leaders recognized and established firms honored for their ongoing commitment to community, these recognitions can be leveraged by announcing the good news through press releases, pitching profile stories on the person or company being honored and crafting social media posts and website content to support such honors after the fact.

Start putting some of these tips into place and soon you’ll be walking that PR red carpet like a true #PRSuperstar.

 Filomena Fanelli is the CEO and founder of Impact PR & Communications Ltd., an award-winning regional public relations firm based in Poughkeepsie, and an adjunct professor at Marist College’s School of Communication and the Arts. She can be reached at 845-462-4979 or at filomena@prwithimpact.com

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