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Part II, 2014 PR & marketing resolution: exercise more (restraint & discipline)

Following up and following through with the media is essential to securing consistent placements of stories and columns, such as this recent one by NOVO: Renewing Joy in Life's Brad Procek in a Suburban Life publication.
Following up and following through with the media is essential to securing consistent placements of stories and columns, such as this recent one by NOVO: Renewing Joy in Life's Brad Procek in a Suburban Life publication.
Suburban Life

Building on Part I, 2014 PR & marketing resolution: consume better sources of information, we turn our attention to “exercising more.”

More of what kind of exercise, though? In the athletic (and New Year’s Resolution) arenas, it is so easily associated with vigorous displays of energy—running, jumping, moving about in one way or another.

With public relations and marketing, there are three key areas that we would all do well to put into more frequent practice:

Exercise more restraint

Restraint in our writing is a good place to start. Cut the superlatives, banish the exclamation points (please!!), and pare down the communication to crisp, clear prose. Our audience doesn’t need to be pumped up, or be fed hype. Not only do they not need it, but our media contacts, in particular, don’t want it.

And neither should we—not when we risk our enthusiasm being interpreted as an artificial attempt to cover up the shortcomings of a story. For example, if we are straining to make much of something that may not be all that special, then we are telegraphing to the reporter, editor or producer that we really don’t have much in the newsworthy department.

Exercise more discipline

The little things, done consistently and faithfully over time, are central to long-term success. They can mean the difference between winning and losing—whether it is winning a client, securing a media placement or developing an effective marketing campaign.

A penny doubled, every day, isn't that impressive after a week or even two weeks. But give it a month, and you soar into the millions of dollars, and then beyond. Pretty easy to be thrilled about your situation at that point, right?

Much tougher is to stay motivated when we're talking about pennies, nickels and dimes in those first, lean days that are the foundation of what comes thereafter. "You've got to be excited when you're making a penny," says Greg Duncan, an Amway Triple Diamond. His enthusiasm at that early stage, more than 30 years ago, was instrumental in his building a successful organization of Amway Independent Business Owners.

The penny-doubled principle isn't just about money, of course. So establish new contacts within the media as well as nurture existing contacts, regardless of how longstanding those connections are or how immediately they might be fielding a pitch from you. Remember: if you apply this principle, you won’t be the only one doing it—though you will be in the minority.

This exercise of discipline also applies to taking the time to communicate clearly with clients. One year, I secured a client in January who waited until December to check on a certain aspect of work that had been performed—an emerging division of his business. While I communicated with the client every few months via email on various topics, my primary point of contact had been an assistant who never brought up the other division as a focus.

Lesson learned: check back in with the client directly, at least on a quarterly basis, to review objectives, results to that point, and any revisions to the current course of action.

Exercise more patience and persistence

When prospects say they want or need a certain service or product—a news release touting a new development or a general desire to “get our name out there”—it’s tempting thing to agree swiftly and proceed without any further clarification. It’s the easy, yet sloppy, approach.

The more mutually beneficial response is to patiently, persistently probe deeper and gain clarity on what the prospect is trying to achieve. Often, this will turn you into a more valuable business consultant who can point them toward a set of activities that extend well beyond the initial action step they had in mind.

The patient-persistent combination is an essential aspect of media relations. When creation of content accounts for at least 90 percent of the process, it makes good, practical sense to take steps to ensure that you don’t pull up short in disseminating that content to the media and through other channels, such as social media.

Over the nearly decade in which Inside Edge PR has been operating in and around Chicago, at least one-third of media coverage secured for clients, from NOVO: Renewing Joy in Life to McAdam Landscaping, from Five Seasons Family Sports Club to Bentron Financial Group, has flowed from follow-up phone calls and emails.

Often, the media contact had no realization of the initial contact, or only a vague sense that something was lurking in his or her e-mail’s “in” box.