How to recover when your amazing PR plan blows up

How to recover when your amazing PR plan blows up

To earn great results from your public relations campaign you have to start with a great plan. That’s why seasoned PR pros spend so much time researching media, tactics, competitors, internal initiatives and so on.

Unfortunately, things don’t always go the way we want them to. CEOs change direction, reporters don’t respond and competing stories get in the way.

Much like a GPS, PR plans are designed to guide you on your journey, but they need to be rerouted when you veer off-course.

Here are some of common roadblocks I’ve experienced over the years, and ways I’ve gotten back on track.

Media Are Not Responding

We’ve all been there. You’ve spent countless hours researching media contacts, putting together lists and sending out tailored pitches, but you’re inbox is all quiet on the western front.

This could happen for a number of reasons. Your email could have gotten lost in a sea of pitches, the news doesn’t stand out, or perhaps it’s hard to explain in a couple short paragraphs and your text blocks were sent to the trash bin. Whatever the reason, there are some simple ways to recover.

  1. Make your story newsworthy. Try to offer something new like a video, photo, or exclusive interview. Reaching out again with a new angle can sometimes be enough to get a response.

  2. Expand your media list to new segments. For example, if you’re pitching a vacation planning service to travel sites, consider other use cases like mommy or financial bloggers, and then rework your pitch and make it relevant to those new contacts.

  3. Write guest blog posts. There are thousands of blogs out there always in need of good content. Ask if they accept guest posts and float them some ideas.

  4. If all else fails, post content on your owned media channels and then integrate it with paid, like social media advertising or CISION content amplification.

Messaging Changes

George Bernard Shaw once said, “Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Change is inevitable. Messaging often evolves to better communicate the value of a product or service, and for some that can be challenging. Don’t get frustrated; you’re there to make sure those changes are the best they can be.

Look at change as an opportunity to collaborate, and strengthen your relationship with the line of business. By working together, you will often arrive at something that’s much better than when you started.

Breaking News or Competitive Stories Hit

Tornados knock down houses, Kardashians get divorced and competitors beat you to market. No matter how much time you spend preparing, you can’t plan for the unforeseen. Luckily news cycles are short, so wait it out and try again.

If you don’t have the luxury of time, note the challenge in your performance report to help ease the pain of lackluster results.

Launch Dates Get Moved

Sometimes products get pushed back, or competitive pressure forces companies to release things early.

If your timeline gets extended, look at it as an opportunity. You now have an excuse to update reporters, reach new ones and write more content.

If three weeks suddenly turn into two days, prioritize tasks, execute on the most important ones and prepare to put in some extra hours.

Strategy Changes Direction

It’s not uncommon to spend time developing a strategy, and then find out that your campaign needs to change direction. When this happens, don’t throw your strategy away; find new ways to use it.

You’ve likely learned something new. You can turn that knowledge into a blog post, or presentation. And, if you keep it in your back pocket it could become useful in the future. Your boss, or clients, will thank you.  

No one ever said this was going to be easy. PR pros have the sixth most stressful job in the U.S., but if you have patience, and think your way around challenges you can provide amazing value and be a star for your organization.

Anthony Hardman is a senior consultant at PR 20/20 He joined the agency in December 2014, with eight years of experience in broadcast news and public relations. He has previously led PR strategy for national rehabilitative sports programs, an information security company and an integrated ad agency. Follow him on Twitter at @ahardman.

Photo: Explosion via Shutterstock

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