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Why public relations and SEO tactics can work hand in hand.

This article was originally published on Forbes.com

As someone who is immersed in both client management and business development, I frequently hear from companies about the roles that online search and SEO play in their business.

For some of the more B2B and niche companies, especially those selling an expensive product or service, it’s important to own the first page of Google for searches around your name or the industry you serve. For B2C companies of all sizes, especially those exclusively selling products online, it’s not that online reputation isn’t important — it is — but hyperlinks pointing to your corporate URL and product pages are critical to driving revenue.

PR for SEO is now a focal point for many modern marketing programs, serving as the ultimate intersection of public relations and SEO/digital marketing. Over the years, I’ve seen many PR firms offer SEO and SEO firms offer PR, both without truly understanding how the functions can work hand in hand. Now, PR for SEO is more important than ever as a long-term investment that should not be ignored by CMOs and marketing execs. As the founder and CEO of an agency that offers this type of service, I’d like to provide more insight on how you can effectively leverage PR for SEO.

What Is PR For SEO?

For media relations and communications folks, the PR aspect of an SEO campaign is likely quite similar to what you’re hopefully already doing with clients today. We’re all familiar with how contributed content in the form of bylines and op-eds are an effective communication tool. They demonstrate expertise and thought leadership, and the published pieces often make for good sales material and social media fodder.

However, many companies either fail to understand or simply don’t prioritize the benefits of SEO that come with contributed content. These pieces are generally accompanied by a short byline of the author, typically a corporate executive, that includes a hyperlink to the website. This hyperlink is extremely valuable. When a credible website publishes your corporate name URL, Google and other search engines recognize this through algorithms as a supporting reason for why your site (and brand) is credible and should rank higher.

Further driving the SEO function, your contributed piece should incorporate keywords relevant to your product and business. The ability to secure the piece with keywords and on-brand focus, coupled with the corporate mention and URL inclusion, should now play a prominent role in most any organization’s marketing program.

How To Do It With Credibility

Now that you know how PR for SEO works, make sure you understand the ins and outs of how to do it with credibility. Before creating content, identify a list of online news sites that are open to receiving contributed insights/op-eds. Use SimilarWeb or SEMRush to get an understanding of a site’s digital audience or unique visitors per month (UVMs), a number that supports the quality of the news site and thus its published hyperlink.

Alex Deckard, an SEO Manager for Aeroflow Healthcare, reviews the total number of backlinks for a website, and also its most popular pages to better determine what that site’s audience is really looking for. He pays close attention to topics covered by the publication, knowing that content that’s relevant for his company will thus improve its ranking on Google and other search engines.

It’s important to understand the value of content writing and thought leadership. If you choose to hire a PR firm to lead your program, make sure you find one that understands this. It’s not as simple as just drafting an article and changing words around to repurpose it for other publications. Most quality news sites seek completely original and company/product-agnostic articles. After all, credible news publications have dedicated readers that deserve creative and insightful content. This means your organization cannot write an op-ed about the company itself, but more about the industry or various trends experienced as an expert within the sector.

By publishing a good article, you will likely experience more article-sharing and general buzz on social channels like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. A good public relations professional should understand these nuances, and have the capability to produce solid content to power the PR-for-SEO program.

Once a few articles have been successfully placed, the process should get easier to repeat. Frequent brainstorming with corporate executives helps keep content fresh, which cannot be understated. By identifying timely topics and providing value to the publication, a high-volume PR-for-SEO strategy is very achievable.

How To Measure Results

There are a number of resources for digital marketers to measure more technical as well as traditional KPIs. Speaking traditionally, bylined articles are great sales and marketing tools and are commonly featured on corporate websites and social media platforms.

Many digital marketers and SEO specialists who manage and work with PR teams use a combination of KPIs to ultimately determine both short- and long-term return on a PR-for-SEO program, including but not limited to UVMs, URL link, quality of the news site, social shares, total link quantity, and long-term search engine position and rankings for specific online searches.

Thinking Long-Term

PR for SEO is very different than more technical onsite SEO upgrades and link-building, and must be viewed as a long-term project with significant upside. It can take days or even weeks to develop an article and identify the right news website for submission, and sometimes even longer for it to publish. These articles often stay online forever, meaning the content reflecting your current brand and values may become a permanent search result for your company and for the name of its author.

An op-ed submitted today may one day result in site traffic and sales of next year, meaning the long-term value of a PR-for-SEO campaign is something that must be featured in any marketing and communications program.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

FischTank provides crisis communications for a number of public and private companies

While no one ever wants to think about the potential for negative or controversial news, many businesses often encounter challenges that result in an unwanted spotlight. It’s imperative that  the company’s marketing and public relations professionals take the time to prepare messaging that is simple and targeted to the audience at hand for when controversy arrives. As one of the Founding Fathers (allegedly) said, by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. When preparing to address media questioning ahead of time, be sure to think about the audiences below.

Stakeholders.

If you’re a public company, it’s extremely important to maintain transparent communication with those who have invested in your success (or struggles) as a brand. This doesn’t necessarily mean over sharing – you shouldn’t put out news releases just for the sake of doing so – but instead for important milestones that show the growth and trajectory of the company. Unfortunately, not all news that you share will be music to investor ears, which is why you must have a crisis communications plan in place to address issues so your shareholder base isn’t left feeling angry and confused.

You can also be sure that investors will ask questions of your colleagues and partners, especially those listed as a contact on press releases. Since a media relations professional isn’t always an investor relations contact, nor at liberty to discuss certain information with investors, you have to prepare for next steps. Ensure a set protocol is in place for how all members of your team address investor inquiries, and be sure that that you can refer investors to the appropriate contact. What may seem like a simple question (i.e. how has a certain part of the company grown?) is not always something a media relations or marketing professional should disclose. If your company doesn’t focus on the investor relations aspect of marcomm, be sure to educate your colleagues on the dos and don’ts of working for a public company.

Customers.

Building positive rapport with customers is crucial for any company, especially in the age of social media where someone can share a rave review – as well as an unfavorable one – to the masses with the click of a button. You must actively work with your public relations team to share out pertinent information to customers in a timely fashion.

Social media is one of the quickest and most effective ways to reach key audiences, but it comes with the expectation that your company must also respond quickly to inquiries from the public, including those who may not be happy with the company. Anticipate common questions and concerns based on previous interactions but also common sense. For example, if you launched a new initiative, it may take time for people to fully understand its objectives, and naturally questions will follow.

Journalists.

For the reporters that express interest in your company and who have invested time in covering your milestones, it’s important to be honest and straightforward about less than ideal news. It’s understandable that you may not be comfortable discussing negative news with the press, but ultimately in order to maintain transparency and an honest relationship with reporters, you have to make yourself available.

Look within your organization to identify the right person to speak with the media, which is something your public relations colleagues or partners can assist with. Most likely the best spokesperson will be someone who is already media trained and will understand the way press inquiries work. Even with that in mind, discussing potentially damaging news is a different animal, and requires further approval on messaging and a candid conversation with both internal and external partners to make sure everyone is prepared for the worst-case scenario. Be sure to be realistic based on the media inquiries at hand; if your pick for an ideal company representative has never been in front of a camera or on a live program, now is not the time to test their skills.

Obviously, you will not always be lucky enough to prepare for a crisis before it strikes. For news that you are privy to in advance, whether it be missed revenues, downsizing, or another issue, take ample time to formulate a communications plan that clearly outlines the role of reach team member (from both your company and your agency partners), correct messaging, and a spokesperson that is ready to address all issues tactfully. After you’ve made it through to the other side of a crisis, be sure to review your process and address what went well and what could be improved. Getting your crisis communications plan organized ahead of time can make the process smoother for all involved .

FischTank media coverage generates ROI

***This blog post originally appeared on CommProBiz***

Whether potential clients or companies we’ve already partnered with, at some point comes the question:

“How do we measure success?”

“What is the ROI for media exposure?”

“Is this working?”

These are fair questions that must be asked, and the answer is the same every time – your ROI depends on your objective. Some organizations retain PR and Marketing firms because they’re looking to achieve some form of conversion, such as a sale or new business lead. Others do so because they seek to use media placements as content for some marketing function, perhaps as signage at a trade show, or as a marketing/sales touchpoint like an e-mail blast. Others evaluate media relations efforts for the SEO and online marketing value they bring, especially when a hyperlink is included.

The point is, each company and organization that retains a firm like ours should know exactly what their objective is prior to engaging, or at least let that become a focal point for strategy discussion.

If it’s e-commerce, or the sale of products via a website, then you may be looking at a two-pronged approach for success. One – how do you create impactful media results that drive interested customers to the website to make a purchase? Two – how do you improve your online search position so that when people Google or conduct other online searches around certain terms, your company name shows up on the first page or within the first few entries?

The former of the two approaches is obvious – to produce media coverage that directly reaches consumers and influences their buying decisions. To this point, no two pieces of media exposure are created equal. If a media relations team secures an article in USA Today, yes, that could drive traffic. But also consider the audience. If the article is about something technical in nature, there’s a very good chance the ROI of said USA Today article could be very low. However, if that very same article were to publish in a blog read by only 8,000 people, but who also happen to be your specific customer type, you could very well garner more sales/conversion from that blog exposure. To this effect – focus on the audience, not the circulation.

With respect to the second approach regarding online search, the value of strong digital content may be difficult to measure per individual piece, but the sum of all efforts most definitely can be quantified. More and more often we work with companies whose primary objective is the search engine optimization (SEO) value of the media coverage we secure on their behalf. Will a hyperlink be included? Will it be chock full of keywords that also mirror the search terms your company wants to rank for? Will these articles show up on the first page of Google? Securing high quality link backs to corporate URLs on a constant basis will ultimately drive traffic for, and interest in, a company.

“Not so fast! My company doesn’t conduct business online. We’re very B2B, and most of our business comes from networking, our sales/marketing team, or (insert some other form of sales process or transaction)”

Let’s take a step back. Despite what some may say about the current state of media, there is still a significant trust that comes with media exposure. Being quoted or featured in Forbes, Wall Street Journal, NPR, influential trade publications, and others still provide tremendous value. Whether you’re a pre-revenue company seeking investors or a 100-person organization that relies on its sales team, media exposure gives you one crucial asset: touchpoints.

If you’ve ever signed onto LinkedIn and seen a CEO of a competitor posting about being quoted in an important article, that’s a touchpoint. If you’ve ever seen a blog post on a website highlighting “recent media coverage in ________),” that’s a touchpoint. The same can be said for media placements sent via e-mail to shareholders, PDFs of articles sitting on table tops at conferences, and “As Featured By” sections on the front page of a website.

What these examples demonstrate is simple: expertise and relevancy. Media coverage means your company understands its role within its respective market, speaks intelligently to its audience, and understands the value in thought leadership.

Of course, these ideas listed above are not comprehensive public relations strategies, they’re singular tactics desired to achieve specific objectives. Everyone wants (and deserves) to know the value they’re receiving when they commit time and budget to a public relations campaign. By looking in the mirror and asking themselves what they want and need most, companies can attain media exposure that yields both long and short-term return on investment.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

CHICAGO, Nov. 30, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — BIOLIFE4D, a biotech pioneer leveraging advances in tissue engineering to 3D print human organs viable for transplant, today announced it has retained FischTank Marketing and PR, a New York City-based firm, as its Agency of Record to conduct national and trade media outreach, generate awareness for its upcoming Regulation A+ equity crowdfunding campaign, and advise on all marketing and communications functions.

The relationship was established to support the Company as it seeks to raise its profile ahead of its equity fund raise in early 2018, and as it develops messaging and marketing strategy to generate awareness within the medical community. FischTank will seek to increase BIOLIFE4D’s overall exposure, develop and maintain external communications, and hone marketing strategies.

“As we continue to develop our technology and prepare for our Regulation A+ raise in early 2018, we felt it was crucial to establish a strong and consistent marketing and communications strategy, for both potential investors and key partners within the medical community,” said Steven Morris, CEO, BIOLIFE4D. “FischTank has the depth of experience we are looking for, having led biotech startups through this process before, with showcased results. We look forward to their guidance during this important time for our Company.”

BIOLIFE4D is a biotech startup focused on making human organ replacement commonplace globally using an approach that combines recent breakthroughs in regenerative medicine, stem cell biology, 3D printing techniques, and computing technology.

“What BIOLIFE4D is doing from an innovation standpoint is remarkable and something we are excited to be a part of – literally giving people the gift of time,” said Matthew Bretzius, President, FischTank Marketing and PR. “We look forward to working with the team to develop a sound messaging strategy and to generate awareness for the technology and the RegA+ fund raise, but also for general heart health.”

BBIOLIFE4D has filed a $50 million initial public offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under Regulation A+ equity crowdfunding rules, allowing everyday investors to help the company bring its groundbreaking cardiac tissue regeneration and organ replacement process to market.  The “Reg A+” rules, outlined under the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, allow companies to raise up to $50 million in equity from non-accredited investors and others.

To learn more about BIOLIFE4D and to express interest in investing visit https://biolife4d.com/invest/.

About BIOLIFE4D

BIOLIFE4D is a pioneering biotech company laser focused on leveraging advances in life sciences and tissue engineering to 3D bioprint a viable human heart suitable for transplant – lifesaving technology that gives patients the gift of time. With BIOLIFE4D, a patient-specific, fully functioning heart will be created through 3D bioprinting using the patient’s own cells – eliminating the well-known challenges of organ rejection and long donor waiting lists that plague existing organ transplant methods. Financed through equity crowdfunding, BIOLIFE4D is driving a movement to transform the treatment of heart disease, the leading cause of death among both men and women globally. Learn more and invest at biolife4d.com. Connect with us on social media on Twitter (@BIOLIFE4D), FacebookLinkedIn, and Instagram.

Although you are currently able to express your interest in investing, BIOLIFE4D Corporation is not yet accepting investments.  No money or other consideration is being solicited by the company at this time, and if sent in response, will not be accepted. No offer to buy the securities can be accepted and no part of the purchase price can be received until the offering statement is qualified, and any such offer may be withdrawn or revoked, without obligation or commitment of any kind, at any time before notice of its acceptance given after the qualification date. If you indicate interest, your indication of interest involves no obligation or commitment of any kind.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

Equity crowdfunding appears to represent a simple solution for businesses – both start up and firmly established – that are looking to raise money to fund their vision. By allowing investors (and fans of the brand) to invest in their company online, companies view this funding mechanism as a way to bypass banks, brokers, and toxic financers. You file significantly reduced SEC-paperwork, throw a website up, and wait for your offering to go viral. Once the internet does its thing and your hyperlink is shared by e-mail as well as endless Facebook and Twitter accounts, the raise will be complete and you can begin planning the listing of your IPO.

If this seems too easy and too good to be true, you’re right – it is.

Unfortunately, too many companies and individuals are being talked into this strategy without the appropriate background information, and as such, the results of poorly executed crowdfunding campaigns are much easier to find than the success stories.

But there are success stories that were made possible only because of those who adequately planned for them. Over the past year, I have spoken with at least 30 companies considering some form of equity crowdfunding (Regulation A+, Reg CF, 506c, testing the waters, etc.). One thing I am continuously surprised by are those who are unprepared to commence an online raise.

As such, here are some general tips for marketing an equity crowdfunding campaign:

  1. No two campaigns are alike. Like any marketing or communications initiative, no two companies are the same, and thus, no two crowdfunding campaigns should be executed the same way. The biggest mistake I see is thinking that a one-size-fits-all marketing approach that “worked really well in the past for another company and their raise” – will be successful. It won’t.

“Successful equity crowdfunding does require a great marketing plan executed by a creative marketing team,” said Kendall Almerico, CEO of Bankroll Ventures and one of the country’s leading experts on equity crowdfunding. “Coca Cola, Cadillac and Calvin Klein do not market their brands the same way. Equity crowdfunding companies must engage a team that understands and markets the company in a unique way that stands out from all the noise.”

Take this into consideration before planning, as each company and campaign requires its own messaging, its own advertising strategy, and its own look and feel. Figure out what your strengths are, and market to them. For example, if your story has great visuals, find a way to leverage it via some form of multimedia, preferably video. Perhaps you are an emerging company working in a high-growth industry with plenty of competition. Focus on how to differentiate yourself from the competition, while outlining the existing market opportunity and what it means for you and your investors.

  1. Get your online presence in order. Raising money from a diverse audience and group of sources can be difficult, but nothing makes equity crowdfunding so challenging as to do so with a poorly designed or ill-functioning website. The investment website is the primary way you are soliciting funds, and as such needs to clearly lead potential investors through the offering process. Think about it – using the analogy of an open house – why leave your trash on the front lawn, not fix the fence, and neglect a new paint job? Getting your digital presence ready means focusing on messaging for the website, carefully reviewing the design and aesthetics, proofing all content, and last but not least – making sure the user experience is a positive one! Do not underestimate the importance of the landing page for your online offering.

Further, legal context with regards to selling securities online must be considered. “General solicitation under the JOBs Act can open up many doors for a company seeking investments, but please, run your proposed content by your securities lawyer,” said Andrea Cataneo, securities attorney with Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.

“Solicitation can mean advertising, webinars, internet offerings, group presentations, but it does not mean hype or exaggeration.”

  1. Identify and market to your audience. Understanding your ideal investor profile isn’t easy, but it needs to be done to build and leverage a captive audience. If you are a company reading this and looking to raise money online, and already possess an existing database of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of contacts (be it customers, clients, partners, etc.) with e-mail addresses, congratulations! You are ahead of the curve. Or, perhaps you already have a good feel for the sort of individual who is likely to invest in your company, and now you just need to go about marketing directly to them. Review site demographics, consider the profile of past investors and interested parties, and try to make that determination early, but… 
  1. …If you don’t have an existing audience, build one. Far too often a company approaches us with a great idea, a designed website and video that clearly spells out the investment opportunity, and a strong message for the media. This should result in success, right? Well, not always. Equity crowdfunding requires some form of direct marketing, and to do so, a company must have a base, either a significant social media following or a database consisting of contact information. If you don’t, social media advertising has proven to be a lead driver of web traffic and conversions. Consider running a Facebook advertising or Google AdWords campaign that drives specifically targeted people to your investment landing page. As many know, online advertising can be precisely targeted, and is a great way to get an idea and offering in front of potential investors.
  1. Stay credible, my friends. Ah, so you finally have it figured out! Plan and processes? Check. Significant database to market to? Check. Brilliantly laid out investment landing page that seamlessly takes investors through the process? Check. Perhaps you are missing one last tool – news flow. Most public companies know this already – distributing press releases that outline corporate announcements, market opportunities, industry events, and other newsworthy items are proven ways to remind current and potential investors that you are a very active company. Similarly, getting featured in third-party, earned media (no pay for plays!) builds credibility, whether it’s in a trade publication, a daily newspaper, radio show, or broadcast television. Working with a media relations and corporate communications firm is a great way to produce press coverage, and reminds investors that you are a real company making news within a high-growth industry.

Equity crowdfunding was meant to spur innovation and growth, while providing Main Street investors with a means to access high growth companies. It is certainly not an untapped source where everyday web users are patiently waiting to visit an online investment opportunity. Be prepared, be proactive, and remain top of mind, and maybe the idea hatched in your own home will one day be listed on a major U.S. stock exchange.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

A true Public Relations Professional.

This summer, FischTank has been fortunate to have two awesome interns join our team. In Part One of a dynamic two part series of hard-hitting interview style conducted by Eric Fischgrund, please meet Jennifer Latchford:

Jen, it’s great to meet you. Prior to joining FischTank, where did you go to school?

I graduated from West Chester University of Pennsylvania in May

Wow, it’s great to have someone from the awesome state of Pennsylvania. What was your major?

My major is communication studies

That’s great, Communications was my area of study at Shippensburg University. Why are you interested in this field?

I have been interested in public relations and marketing because it’s very exciting to be a part of setting plans up for our clients to ensure success for their companies. I enjoy being able to see how one interaction with a company can open so many doors professionally.

Great answer, and I really appreciate that you emphasized the importance of generating success for our clients! More specifically, what industries interest you?

The entertainment industry has always been my main interest, one day I hope to work as a publicist or as a manager for a public figure involved in the media.

Good to know! I guess FischTank needs to work with more celebrities, although we are fortunate to do so with a few. Who is your favorite journalist?

Well I don’t really have a favorite journalist…I appreciate a sense of humor, but other than that I will read just about anything…back of shampoo bottles included.

Hmm, shampoo bottles. That’s a little weird but America is a free country. Music is important to everyone at FischTank — who is your favorite band/musician?

I don’t have a particular band I am a fan of either, but genre wise I LOVE country music.

Country music? You have a bright future here! Last question, then we’ll get you get back to work. What are some of your interests outside of communications and country music?

I am very outdoorsy-I like to hike, camp, kayak, etc.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

PR and Digital Firm

One of the ways FischTank has been able to grow is relatively simple — hire smart professionals who can take certain responsibilities and weaknesses off your hands.

Stepping back for a moment to share an example. As a marketer/communicator, writing is one of my few more effective skillsets. Comparatively, numbers often pose a significant challenge for me. Although the books were getting done, invoices were going out, and taxes were being paid — handling accounting for FischTank was a tremendous time suck, and was getting in the way of my ability to execute other initiatives such as client services and business development.

As we’ve scaled FischTank, my partner and I have made great efforts to hire a team that provides solutions. Naturally, this includes the accountant/bookkeeper who maintains invoicing and expenses in QuickBooks, coordinates payroll, and pays our taxes. It also includes the team in our office that now handles all facets of what we do for our clients — account management, reporting, writing, research, media outreach, website audits, social media strategies, and other marketing and public relations components.

If you’re a CEO reading this and nodding along — I encourage you to apply the same thinking to your marketing and communications efforts. Perhaps you’re putting off blogging until next week? Do you see your competitors continue to receive media coverage and wonder why the press isn’t writing about you? What are you doing to maintain some form of a digital media presence? Is your website acceptable or lacking updates? Where do you begin when writing a press release? Home come you aren’t using e-mail marketing?

Certainly many of you have asked one of these very questions. Some of you may find more than one example familiar. Perhaps many of you have suggested handling your company’s marketing and media efforts on your own. If so, best of luck and I’m sure you’ll do great. The question is — at what cost to yourself?

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

Marketing and Public Relations

It’s no secret — traditional media outlets like newspapers and magazines are cost cutting, utilizing syndicated content to publish news on their websites. While this may present a difficulty in attaining coverage, with space to fill, the opportunity grows for contributed content provided by “thought leaders” – executives from individuals, businesses, and organizations.

In addition to media in general, public relations has been forever changed by the Internet. Google and other search engines make online content important not only to control, but to continue adding to. Then social media changed everything when social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn began ranking high on online search. Now, it is equally important to maintain content on a social page as it is your own website!

These changes to the media itself and the increased importance placed on content is why content writing, and more specifically, specialized content writers, are about to be a premium. With smart companies everywhere committing to public relations strategies that incorporate social media, thought leadership, e-mail marketing, press releases and more, the need for content has grown exponentially. Now the very same writers who five years ago were writing for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal are transitioning to the business side and driving smart content for brands. PR agencies have taken note, acquiring content firms and those who know how to execute on the digital side.

This is why 2017 and moving forward will be a big year for those talented with a pen.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

FischTank is a leading media relations firm in NYC

One of the most exciting times in the life of a young company or entrepreneur is when their product or services are ready to be unveiled to the world. With that excitement however, comes the realization of the task that still lies ahead – How do we get people to notice us? Then the light bulb goes on. We need PR!

Generally though, when most non public relations professionals think of PR, they lean solely toward media relations and news coverage. But media relations is only a small part of the PR puzzle, and an even smaller part of the overall integrated marketing strategy that’s really necessary to take your business to new heights.

So how do you know if you’re really ready for an integrated marketing strategy that includes the media coverage you crave? Here are four things to consider:

Do you have something to say? Gaining visibility comes down to being seen and heard. A product launch, funding announcement, or high profile personnel hire is a great place to start, but should not be solely relied upon to build a company profile. You are an expert in your field – use this to your advantage by getting involved in various industry discussions.

One of the easiest ways to gain media coverage is by discussing current trends and news within your specific vertical, with a perspective has broad industry appeal. This enables you to become a recognized thought leader within your industry, bringing instant credibility to your brand. Then the next time a reporter researches your company while deciding on whether or not to write about your announcement, they’ll see you’re legit.

It’s important for you to have something to say – and not always about yourself.

Do you have proper expectations? This is one of the first discussions that should occur at the onset of a new campaign so both parties can get a realistic idea of what is attainable, potential challenges, and end goals.

Too often, a young company will say, “We’ll take whatever we can get” which really lets the firm they’ve hired off the hook for producing measurable results. At the same time, it’s important for you to understand that it’s unlikely you’ll be on the cover of the New York Times on day one – no matter how good looking you are.

To use a baseball analogy, have a discussion with your new firm and decide what your goals are in the sense of singles, doubles, triples, and homeruns. Singles and doubles are the easiest to obtain, are most constant, and keep your rally alive, while triples and homeruns are less common but have a major impact. This way your campaign – and business – will really score.

Do you have a plan for leverage? It’s an awesome feeling to see your company’s name in an article or to create a great piece of marketing content internally to share with the masses, but your efforts can’t stop there. This is where an integrated marketing strategy really is crucial to ensure you reach current and potential clients, investors, and industry partners.

Don’t simply post a link to your website – use a multi-pronged approach that includes social media, email, your sales team, and self-publishing to increase value. Many companies don’t fully utilize the power of their positive press by proactively sharing it. Instead potential customers and partners are left to find it on their own – an ironic twist since these companies are struggling to get noticed to begin with.

Do you have the resources? Obviously money is a factor here, but there are other resources that are just as important. I’m talking about personnel – you and other members of company leadership. While the firm takes on the bulk of the work, there are times where they will need access to you to discuss trends, campaign ideas, schedule interviews, or ask questions.

You are, after all, the expert in your field, so it’s important that you make yourself available. If you’re hoping to simply write a check and then “set it and forget it” you may not get the results you’re looking for.

Any good PR or marketing firm will be flexible and work with you to meet your needs – whether you’re ready or not. But following this guide and coming prepared enables you to earn results everyone can be happy with, and maybe hit that grand slam you’re looking for.

Matt Bretzius has worked both in-house and agency-side, helping startups to Inc. 500|5000 companies amplify their message and achieve proven results.