Let's start with the basics. What even is public relations (PR)?
I'm the founder of THEPRBAR inc., and I like to describe PR as "the art of cultivating opportunities through strategic relationship building and maintenance." But when most people think of PR, landing media placements comes to mind. And that's for sure an important aspect of it, so for the purposes of this article, that's exactly the lane of PR that I'm going to stay in.
And I'll start with some good news: businesses don't have to hire a PR firm—they can, in fact, execute a successful PR campaign (securing media or press coverage) in-house. At a certain point, you'll likely want to bring on support, but in the meantime, here are three tips that will help ensure that your first—or next—PR campaign proves productive, valuable, and successful.
Tip #1: Physically prepare for the best-case scenario
What would be the best possible outcome of landing an article, TV show, or podcast? Increased site traffic? A rush of new qualified sales calls? An influx of orders? All the above? Once you determine what success looks like for your business, ask yourself: is your business physically prepared to handle that best-case scenario? For example:
Is your website optimized and mobile-friendly?
Do you have a lead capture set up?
Do you have enough inventory on hand?
Do you have a process set up to handle an influx of calls; is your team prepared?
Are your systems set up properly? Are you automating the right things?
What do you need to prepare now to ensure that you're able to maximize a best-case outcome of press?
Early on in my career, I had the opportunity to represent a variety of winning Shark Tank brands. Now let me tell you: landing on the show Shark Tank is one of the holy grails of PR wins. I've never worked with a client that hasn't seen massive success from the show.
If any of my clients hadn't prepared their systems upfront, they would have missed out on a massive revenue opportunity. (Of course, we made sure they were prepared, so that never happened.) On the flip side, as a viewer of the show, I've excitedly looked to purchase a Shark Tank product while watching live only to be met with a broken site or SOLD OUT link. My heart hurts for those companies.
Tip #2: Mentally, stay neutral
In business, mindset matters, a lot. While it's advisable to prepare your systems physically for success, it's also crucial to manage your expectations and practice mental neutrality.
Just as things can go unbelievably well, there's also a very real possibility that things will go just as you hoped they wouldn't. You put in all this work and prepared for an amazing outcome and…crickets. Sadly, this scenario happens to companies every day. Not so long ago, I had two different clients land articles in Byrdie: one sold out from the roundup, while the other saw zero new sales. (We'll talk more about why this might have happened in the next section, but stick with me here for another moment.)
Like many parts of life, some things in business are ultimately a mystery, and others are just out of our control. While I haven't met a single business owner who hasn't experienced the rollercoaster that is entrepreneurship at least to some extent, I will say: those who practice mental neutrality have a lot less gray hair.
Here are two ways to help you monitor your mindset and remain neutral to press outcomes:
1. Know your tangible triggers and your physical reset mode
What triggers you into panic mode, and what can bring you back to a feeling of calm? As a recovering people pleaser, I can at times be triggered if someone says anything other than amazing things about me. So, my trigger = if someone doesn't like me. How do I bring myself back to a feeling of being calm? I have a physical sticky note on my desk that says, "Reset, You Rock, Be Neutral." When getting mentally worked up, I read it, then allow myself to take a quick five-minute screen break. That's my trigger and reset—yours will be different, but you need to know what it is.
2. Practice adapting the mindset that from every situation, something can be learned
Say it with me: "Failure is simply a mindset." By speaking this into existence, we can then begin to believe the reframe: "Failure doesn't exist. Everything simply serves as a use-case to further refine our strategy moving forward." Which leads us into my final tip…
Tip #3: No matter what happens, learn from it, and adapt your strategy accordingly
No matter what happens—or doesn't happen—from a PR win, it's crucial to analyze and adapt your strategy moving forward. Ask yourself (and document): What went right? What went wrong?
Remember how I brought up the conflicting Byrdie client examples above? Let's revisit those now.
Client 1: Landed article in Byrdie, sold out of online product.
Notes on future strategy: Byrdie is a great outlet for us! Let's continue to work with them or pursue similar opportunities with lookalike audiences.
Client 2: Landed article in Byrdie, saw an influx of web traffic but no sales.
Notes on future strategy: By looking through analytics, we were able to determine that her website wasn't fully optimized to convert. So before continuing to go after further PR opportunities, we prioritized cleaning up her site.
Whatever happens as a result of a press campaign, you can learn something and adapt your strategy moving forward.
Let's wrap it up
In business, success looks different for everyone. For some, simply landing a PR placement is a huge win. For others, if a given TV segment doesn't generate a ten-figure plus return, it's viewed as a "failure" (psst, remember though: failure is just a mindset!).
Ultimately, the more PR campaigns you execute and learn from, the closer you get to knowing what works for your company. It's rare to find two companies executing the exact same PR strategy (unless they're identical competitors—in which case, someone call a lawyer?). When anyone is just beginning their PR journey, there's inevitably going to be some amount of trial and error. To ensure your campaign proves productive and valuable, physically prepare for the best-case scenario, mentally remain neutral, and no matter what happens, learn from it—and adapt your strategy accordingly.
This was a guest post from Lexie Smith, founder of THEPRBARinc. Lexie's podcast, Pitchin' and Sippin', is streaming wherever you listen to podcasts. View a recent episode library here (transcripts available). Want to see your work on the Zapier blog? Read our guidelines, and get in touch.