By: Jennifer Abshire
Special to Business in Savannah
January. Time for New Year’s resolutions and company goals. Budgets have been determined and now it’s time to get to business. Are your PR plans in place?
Scott Stratten, author of “UnMarketing” and the keynote speaker at Savannah’s 2010 Geekend Conference, kicked off the event with the message to “Share Awesome” with others. It was probably the most tweeted phrase throughout the weekend. Why? Because if it’s not awesome, the odds are that you won’t get many people to listen to your message.
PR professionals love to “share awesome” about their clients, but the first step in securing positive press is a thorough audit of potential story ideas for the year. Seasonal or annual events, announcements about upcoming new products and unique feature stories about the people on your team can be scheduled throughout the year. These items can run as a press release, blog post or Tweet – or they can be pitched to area press for potential media coverage.
Conducting an audit with your team can happen at a brown bag lunch in your conference room or at a makeshift office happy hour, but the meeting needs to be in a space that is private and comfortable. Most audits take one to two hours; if facilitated correctly, notes can be distributed immediately following the meeting for feedback.
Questions to ask during the audit should include:
- What were our key successes in 2010?
- Did we receive any recognition (press or peer) for each success?
- Did we receive recognition via traditional or interactive media? Which was more effective?
- What will be the top newsworthy items about our company for 2011?
- What speaking opportunities or awards would help raise our company’s profile?
- Did our competition obtain press that we wish we had received?
Most companies find employees are more than happy to give multiple answers to these questions, but make sure you are prepared to start the ball rolling with a few of your own responses.
This meeting may also be a good time to review your unique mission statement, which explains who you are as a company. It’s also important to develop a vision statement, which maps out what your company aspires to become in the future. If you don’t have a mission statement or a vision statement, write drafts for your team to edit and review. As my grandfather always said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will never get to where you want to be.” Every member of your organization needs a mission statement and vision statement to refer to and to ensure that everyone is working towards a common goal.
The most fascinating exercise during an audit is often when team members are asked to give the company’s 30-second “elevator speech” to the group. It can be quite shocking how many intelligent and articulate individuals stammer and struggle when a colleague says, “Tell me about your company.”
After this exercise, you will see what needs to be tweaked and, once determined, the elevator speech needs to be rehearsed numerous times. Your team is your most effective sales tool, so make sure they are prepared to share your company message with prospective clients and customers.
The final phase of the audit is to encourage the team to identify 10 ways to tell each story that would be most effective to your target markets. Is it via email blast? Direct mail? Personalized thank you notes? Facebook posts? Research multiple ways to educate your target audience, then hit them with steady, pertinent information.
Abshire PR performs audits on a regular basis – we did over 25 last year alone. Remember that an audit serves a strategic first step for any PR success in 2011 and is the best way to begin to SHARE AWESOME.
Jennifer Abshire Patterson is the founder and Chief Creative Officer at Abshire Public Relations. She can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-695-7881.