Since I first began working in PR, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen confused looks on people’s faces as they attempted to guess how I spend my days. My family used to ask me when they were going to see me on TV and I’d say “It’s really not about me. It’s about helping my clients tell their story.” Finding and sharing those stories has been my passion over the past 25 years.
From my experiences working with both small businesses and major corporations, I’ve learned that the foundation of any successful storytelling campaign is relationship-building and trust. That’s the approach our STIR Earned Media team takes with every PR, content and social media campaign.
- Listen Before Telling: Crafting a client’s narrative with the emotional power to connect with audiences is the most important part of our job. And it can’t be done without taking time to know the client – learning their industry, understanding objectives and involving them in the PR planning process. Creativity is crucial but making sure that the ‘big idea’ is on target with business objectives is equally as important. Does it drive prospects to a new website? Is it delivering customers to a retail grand opening? My team and I always hold a discovery session with clients to discover what they are trying to accomplish then frame the message we want to share and determine the most compelling way to deliver it. We’re strategic storytellers and that’s a priority.
- Be a Connection Cultivator: It’s a new world where we are always connected at some level and the merger of man and machine is forever changing expectations for communicators. Today, attention and trust are scarce, and consumers are more skeptical than ever. That makes authentic connections – whether through word-of-mouth, online communities and reviews – more valuable than ever in this 24-7, multi-screen environment. My focus is to ensure that the Earned Media team builds those connections by understanding the best ways to reach target audiences, whether that’s through an industry journalist or a social media influencer.
- Breakthrough the Clutter: To reach today’s hyper-connected consumer who is overwhelmed with messages, PR pros must truly create a powerful visual impression about the brands they represent and ensure that they are relevant in a personal way to the audiences they are targeting. Best-selling author and entrepreneur, Seth Godin, once said, “People don’t buy products and services, they buy relations, stories and magic.” Whether that story is a human interest piece or focuses on a breakthrough technology, STIR Earned Media works closely with clients to find that newsworthy angle that captures imaginations.
- Promise and deliver: It’s a rare PR pro who hasn’t had a client tell them they want to be on the front page of the New York Times or be interviewed on a top-rated national morning show. It can be tempting to make these promises, but clients really should be cautious when hearing these kind of coverage ‘guarantees.’ In reality, a successful earned media campaign is focused on the right customized media goals for each client – sometimes a well-placed trade story can be more valuable than a national story. I believe the best way to build trust and long-term client relationships is to set high, but realistic, expectations early on about what can be achieved, work with clients to determine what defines a ‘win,’ provide regular progress updates and stay focused on achieving commitments.
In the end, the best PR campaigns involve constant and clear communication and a commitment to finding the most compelling strategic solutions. At STIR, I’m really proud to work with a talented team who delivers on that promise every day.
If you would like to learn more about how STIR can help you tell your story, please contact Christel Henke, Vice President, Earned Media, here.