Public relations (PR) is sometimes seen as the “spin” creator for many companies. A lot of people see the practice of public relations as a way to put a certain spin on a story in order to use it to your benefit, even if it may not really be a positive story, or to take a negative story and put it in the best light possible. For that reason, lots of people also have misconceptions about PR as a practice, what it can do, how it should be used and how PR professionals do their jobs. It definitely gets a bad rap sometimes!
As part of a comprehensive marketing strategy, public relations has a crucial place, but unfortunately, it still remains unclear to many what “good PR” is – or even what PR is, period!
“Public relations might be seen in a negative light by some, but that’s mainly because so many are unclear about how good public relations practitioners work,” says Taigen Thorne, Director of Public Relations & Media at SageAge. “Ultimately, PR boils down to taking what is good and true about your community and making it known to those who will care – a.k.a., your prospective customers.”
Much of marketing and public relations comes down to quality, relevant storytelling, and to knowing your audience better than they perhaps even know themselves. Here are some of our tips for finding – and sharing – the stories your prospective customers really want to hear.
First, get your audience straight.
We’ve spoken about it before on this blog, but it bears repeating: you can’t engage in effective marketing or public relations efforts if you don’t have a clear, solid picture of the audience you are trying to reach. We’ve written some very specific posts on how to do audience research and how to get to know your customers, but here are some high-level tips:
Ask your current customers; what do they want? What don’t they like? Where do they get their information?
Do some desk research; the Internet is a treasure trove of information about the demographics and characteristics of your potential customers.
Analyze your sales data. Do your customers all fit into a few clear categories?
And most importantly, forget your preconceived notions. Bias is the enemy!
From there, get your target media straight, too.
Based on the questions you ask and data you crunch in the previous step, you should have a good idea of where your customers and prospective customers get their information. Dive deeper into that and create a list of target media, organized into the type of stories they cover. Local media, social media influencers, major national publications and everything in between should be on this list. Now dive even deeper! Research the names of editors, writers and influencers at each of these publications and do the necessary legwork to ensure you have the most up-to-date contact information for each of them.
Now, get your stories straight.
If you’re like most senior living leaders, you know that your community is full of uncovered stories and insights, and that isn’t limited to just your residents! Your employees, partners, volunteers – all of them have stories to share, you just have to know to ask. Some will come to you through the grapevine, but if the well seems a bit empty, there’s no better way to gather some intel than by asking around. Put on your journalist hat and check in with some residents at dinner. Pop by the breakroom to chat with a team member. Sit in on a volunteer guiding an activity or event.
If you do this, you’re bound to uncover some interesting tidbits that could be of interest to your larger audience. The key here is being as objective as possible – just because you find it interesting doesn’t mean your prospects will. So be open, but be critical; no reporter likes being given a story that ends up being a non-story!
Lastly, make connections, make it easy and get out of the way!
If you have a great story from your community that you think media could be interested in, the first thing you must do is identify all the key players and ensure they’d have an interest in speaking to the media about it. Get all your facts straight – again, put on that journalist cap! – and distill it down into a 3-4 sentence “pitch” to a reporter. Your pitch should focus first and foremost on why the reporter’s readers, no one else, will have an interest. Why? Because at the end of the day, that is who the reporter cares about most.
Cross reference your list of media outlets and influential individuals, and determine who makes the most sense for this particular pitch, and then reach out. Journalists, in general, have a good nose for dishonesty, so make sure all the details are ironed out and you’re being truthful about every aspect of the story. Keep it simple, hone in on the reporter’s readers, and make it exceptionally easy for the reporter to move forward by providing him or her with all the contact information they’d need to run with an article.
Then, to be blunt: get out of the way! Nothing will scare a reporter off more than a contact who tries to tell them exactly how to write their story. Trust them to discover the most interesting tidbits, while also being ready to supply them with any information they may need.
You did it – you “did” public relations! The key to keeping the momentum going is to keep in regular mutually beneficial contact with the media, and to ultimately help them reach their readers. That means sharing worthwhile stories, and being willing to drop it if they don’t think a story is worth pursuing. You need each other like a symbiotic relationship to cultivate meaningful and impactful information for your audience…
Proven Sales and Marketing Expertise That Connects with Today’s Seniors
If you are managing a senior living community and are in need of expertise in precisely profiling, targeting and connecting with your target markets, contact us for more information today. SageAge Strategies is a multiple award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that operates exclusively in the senior living industry. For more information, please call or e-mail Adrienne Mansfield Straub at 570-601-1720 ext. 100 / firstname.lastname@example.org.