Snackable PR: 15 Public Relations Ideas
In this short eBook, we want to share with you our thoughts about where the
world of public relations, earned media, marketing, and communications has been
and where it’s going. If you’re new to the world of public relations or you’ve been
heads-down getting things done and haven’t had time to see what’s been changing
in the world of communications, then this eBook should help. We’ve collected
some of the most popular topics and thoughts about PR, social media, marketing,
and communications for you in one guide that will help you understand what’s new
This isn’t a comprehensive book on PR. After all, PR is an entire profession
(arguably a set of professions), and encapsulating the work we all do in just 10,000
words would be nearly impossible. That said, if you’re in a role in marketing or
management and you’re wondering what PR does for you (or could do for you) then
this guide should be a good primer. That’s why we’ve named it with such a peculiar
title: it’s snackable appetizers for what will hopefully be a satisfying experience
working with your public relations team or agency.
Table of Contents
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10 Steps to Reinvent Your Media Strategy
Why PR Will Own Content Marketing
The Convergence of Advertising and PR
The Roles of Paid, Earned, and Owned Media
Digital and Traditional PR Look The Same
Relationships Between PR and Journalists Have Changed Forever
When PR and Communications Cannot Help
Social Media and PR
Public Relations' Death-Defying Pivot
The Beneﬁts of Social Media
Social is the New SEO (and the new PR)
10 Ways to Actually Become a Social Media Expert
Social Media Crisis Communications Guidelines
The Danger of the Single Inﬂuencer
Top 10 Guidelines for Corporate Social Media Participation
Get More PR and Communications Insights
example, obviously, you’ve tapped SHIFT to help out!
RESEARCH: SHIFT conducts research on the industry opportunity, the
competition, the social media and mainstream media buzz, and, the inﬂuencers in
the space. We determine what types of content are most often shared across the
social graphs of your stakeholders.
MESSAGING: With these ﬁndings, we conduct a messaging session for the
corporation and/or product, coming up with clear points of differentiation that also
reﬂect your brand and culture — and which, critically, we can “sell” to the media,
to prospective customers, and the world.
CONTENT CREATION: On an ongoing basis we create content in support of the
message — maybe it’s a video, or an infographic series, or a microsite, etc. Maybe
it’s as simple as an email pitch to a handful of top reporters. Sometimes that’s
SEO & OWNED MEDIA: As appropriate, the zingy new content is SEO-
optimized and shared across your company’s owned channels: your blog, Twitter,
your Facebook page, your Google+ page, etc. It pings across the social nets of your
current fans and friends.
EARNED MEDIA: More importantly, SHIFT is working to ensure that content is
motivating inﬂuencers to share that content, whether in the mainstream media or
on inﬂuential industry or consumer blogs, and/or across individual Social Media
inﬂuencers’ social graphs … Hey! What’s that, again? SHIFT nailed down an article
about the company in USA TODAY!? Awesome. That’s third party, credentialed
and unbiased credibility from a respected source with huge readership. It doesn’t
get much better. Let’s call this “The Big Hit.” In the old days, that’s when we’d stop.
Maybe the client would post the USA TODAY article on their site, but that’s
typically as far as it would go … Leading inevitably to the “what have you done for
me lately?” syndrome that has plagued the industry. Today, at SHIFT, that earned
media “Big Hit” is where things start to get interesting.
EARNED MEDIA > OWNED & PAID MEDIA: In addition to sharing The Big Hit
across your owned social channels (Facebook Timeline, Twitter, corporate blog,
etc.), we’re going to advocate making sure that millions of additional eyeballs view
this awesome content, via paid promotion strategies.
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THE EARNED MEDIA HUB STRATEGY:
You (the client) have an idea; you have a product or service to sell … in this
trafﬁc. (By the way, yes, mainstream publishers love this approach: while you may
be featuring a media competitor’s content, they will get paid for the link. And the
reporter who wrote the original piece certainly appreciates it when you send
millions of new readers their way!)
MORE EARNED > OWNED & PAID: Now, let’s take the “Awesome story! Love
this product!”Facebook post by an inﬂuencer who “liked” The Big Hit and turn that
post into a Sponsored Story that pings their social graph and beyond. Now you
have the added validation of an inﬂuential kudos attached to that already-awesome
Big Hit! If that kudo happened on Twitter, instead? Cool: we can create a Promoted
Tweet, featuring the inﬂuencer but pointing readers to The Big Hit itself. Again,
you’re using Paid Media to drive eyeballs to Earned Media, earning a double-
whammy of credibility.
EVEN MORE EARNED > OWNED & PAID: And if we didn’t note an inﬂuencer
giving the thumb’s-up to The Big Hit? No problem. It just means we might use more
conventional social advertising strategies to drive trafﬁc to that earned media hit.
AND IT CONTINUES! EARNED > OWNED & PAID: It need not end there.
Some clients understandably worry about sending trafﬁc to USA TODAY vs. their
own website. But once prospects read that great USA TODAY hit and come for a
website visit, we can create banner ads (or use clients’ current inventory) and
deploy Ad Re-Targeting technology based on those website visits. In laymen’s
terms: if the prospect visited your website, we can serve them targeted banner ads
across a vast network of external, mainstream media sites, reminding them
throughout their subsequent surﬁng of their original interest in your company.
See how the credibility-boosting power of Earned Media can become the hub of
a broader marketing communications strategy?
It wasn’t possible before. It’s possible now. All you need is a different way of
thinking. It’s not all about Social for Social’s sake. It’s about taking full advantage of
Media Convergence, and using the most valuable, trusted content assets as the
central spoke in your strategy.
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EARNED > PAID: Let’s syndicate the content. We can guarantee that The Big Hit
you got at USA TODAY is also seen by readers of contextually-related articles on
other mainstream media sites, ranging from CNN and Newsweek to TMZ and PC
Magazine. We even perform A/B testing on the headlines to further boost relevant
Paid media channels are any media channels that you must pay to access. You
don't own them, and unless you pay money, you don't get to have access to them.
Examples of paid media are things like pay per click ads, advertisements on TV or
radio, banner ads, paid editorial content in email newsletters, sponsored blog posts,
etc. Paid media channels are out of your control the moment the money stops,
and the ﬂow of audience stops with it.
Earned media channels are any media channels that you must earn access to by
having stuff worth talking about or sharing. Paying money doesn't get you in, and
you don't own it, so you have to earn your way in with awesomeness. Earned
media channels in the past have been traditional, mainstream media outlets like TV
news programs, newspapers, radio talk shows, magazines, etc. but are now a much
broader universe. Earned media includes things like other people's blogs, social
media accounts, and even search engines. (SEO is functionally another form of
earned media) Anywhere someone else can talk about how awesome you are is
earned media. If you've got awesome to share, earned media can be a tremendous,
sustainable source of new audience for your product or service.
Once you understand the relationships among the media types and how they
contribute to the overall communications process, knowing what's lacking in your
media mix becomes fairly straightforward.
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Digital and Traditional PR Look The Same
I have at least one or two media contacts with whom I rarely, if ever, email. It’s
not that I’m not doing my job; it’s that whenever I have a pitch or want to soft-
sound a story idea, I have to shrink the thought into way-less than 160 characters so
I can direct message them on Twitter.
It will not surprise you to learn that most of these “Tweet First” contacts are
bloggers. A few years ago, blogger engagement was a separate category from
traditional media activities. In fact, during the growth of digital PR back six or seven
years ago, we had two distinct teams with their own tasks related to either
traditional pitching or blogger engagement. I was working in the latter camp, and
by way of talking to people who blog, and who were some of the ﬁrst on Twitter, it
was kind of a natural progression to stop emailing each other and then just tweet.
Blogging looks a lot more like mainstream news these days (or mainstream news
looks more like blogging, that’s a chicken or egg post for another day). Along with
that, the space between what I’ve been doing in my career around online news
sources and what colleagues who have ﬁlled more traditional media roles has
gotten really, really small. Sure, my leading example here talked about how
bloggers and I talked through Twitter direct messaging. But it isn’t only bloggers
who rely on Twitter for everything from news to getting leads from sources. There
are even reporters who have grown in their careers to join traditional outlets by way
of being active online bloggers (and, again, plenty of writers who once wrote for
large organizations have jumped to independent, online outlets).
When I got into this business, it felt different to be talking to a blogger, but
maybe it shouldn’t have. I don’t know if I’m ruining some big secret, but there
really isn’t that much that’s different in terms of what we do when we reach out to
an online-only reporter. Journalists and bloggers alike are writing stories, and
sometimes we as PR professionals have – or think we have – a tip that will help
them create content. Ultimately, we have to take the time to get to know the writer,
what they consider relevant and the best ways to reach them. That process doesn’t
change on the basis of reaching out to either a blogger or a traditional journalist.
As a ﬁnal bit of homework, I’ll challenge you to think about what pitching a
story in a direct message is like. It’s really, really good practice to take your pitch
and try and get all the important parts into less than a sentence. If you can do that,
you’ll have a better sense of your story and what you are trying to say – no matter
who you are reaching out to.
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Relationships Between PR and Journalists Have Changed Forever
I came across an article recently on ways PR pros can cultivate relationships
with reporters vs. just cold pitching them all the time. It reminded me of when I
ﬁrst started in PR and got briefed by a colleague on what it takes to earn the media’s
trust; to be a valued resource and not just a “ﬂack” (I still cringe at this horrible
term to describe our profession). Back then we called it the rule of three – give the
reporter two things of value to THEM before one request of value to YOU. This
might be a quick note that said, “Great article today! Loved your points about X
and X” (full stop) or “Hey did you see the news on X? Thought you’d be
interested”(again, full stop) before ever pitching them on a client or idea.
It’s been only four years since that ﬁrst conversation but still, much has changed
across the media landscape, including: how reporters generate and distribute
stories; which publishing houses are thriving vs. failing — and whether they offer
paid or free content; and the types of headlines that get the most eyeballs. Just this
week I heard someone talk about the popularity of “list articles,” identifying them
as “listicles,” and I felt my mind expand an inch more.
If I were to sit down with a PR newbie today and show them the ropes of media
relationships, here’s what I would say that is different from my ﬁrst go in 2008:
Don’t be afraid: Reporters need you as much as you need them – sometimes
more if you’ve got an awesome, sought-after client. They are being challenged to
churn out content FAST and they’re often relying on others (you) to provide insight,
quotes, access to spokespeople and in some cases, help educate them on a
complicated or new (to them) topic – all by deadline. It’s a mutually beneﬁcial
relationship so don’t be afraid to make that ﬁrst contact – you might be surprised.
Get connected: I don’t advise blindly connecting to every reporter you’ve ever
heard of on LinkedIn, but after that ﬁrst client brieﬁng or email trail, connect with
them on LinkedIn. Even easier, follow them on Twitter or Google+ and subscribe to
their feed. My best media contacts are people that I’m connected to on LinkedIn
and I truly believe that sometimes, because they see my face pop up on their news
feed, they remember to reach out with a source request.
Reporters need to network, too: More than ever, reporters are being measured
by their social networks and how many people – hits – they can get to their stories
and to then go back and share with their own networks. That is stressful! That being
said, reporters know PR pros tend to be outgoing, well-connected individuals, and
they may lean on you to broaden their reach. I’ve connected a few reporter
“friendlies” with other PR pros for stories that have led to success for all involved. I
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also sometimes send a reporter, if they’re in my region, a link to a networking event
they might ﬁnd interesting or that I’m attending.
Freelance writers rock: And there’s more of them then there were four years
ago. Get in good with a freelancer and you won’t regret it – these are smart, driven
and often very KIND people who at any given point could be writing something
super niche, for a “smaller” outlet, and then next thing, contributing regularly to a
column in a major business publication. Because of the nature of operating solo
and/or remote from the main news hub, freelancers are more likely to reach out
with a media request and ask for help.
Share the heck out of their news — and not just when it’s yours: You have a
reporter friend and they just wrote about your client and you’re PUMPED so you
like it, tweet it, send it to your Mom (don’t lie, you’ve done it). Your reporter friend
appreciates this because they want more web trafﬁc to their article and in many
cases today, their boss is counting how many hits, RTs, comments, etc. that article
receives. On several occasions I’ve actually had reporters email me after coverage
hits to let me know “Yay! It got a bunch of comments” or “Wow! The story got X
number of click-throughs” and then thanked me for sharing it on LinkedIn or
Twitter. But it’s not just YOUR coverage that should be shared – like any solid PR
pro you want to be consistently reading your media “friendlies” work and sharing it
with your network. Reporters recognize this and will not forget you when it comes
time to write another story.
To that PR newbie I would then say: At the end of the day, if you’re doing your
job right, a reporter will not only see you as a resource, but as an industry peer.
And that makes public relations more valuable, powerful and better in terms of
what we can offer our clients.
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Earned media is about much more than media interviews and placements in the
papers. In the 21st century, every customer with a mobile phone is as good as a
journalist for your company's reputation. A bad review on Yelp, Facebook, or
Google Local is just as damaging as a bad Zagat review. If you're not willing or
able to acknowledge and address customer concerns when they have a bad
experience, then for every positive piece of earned media that a PR ﬁrm can earn
you, legions of unhappy customers will work against you with their own voices. No
PR ﬁrm in the world can suppress an unhappy customer (nor should they). Fix
broken customer relations so that your PR and communications investment can be
maximized by having fewer voices working against it.
We hope this brief look at the things that work against PR can help guide you as
to what needs to be ﬁxed in order to get the most out of your communications
investment. Fix the most broken things ﬁrst, and only then contact a PR ﬁrm to help
boost your efforts once things are working again.
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Broken Customer Relations
more valued than ever. The PR industry works with media sources of all kinds and
measures the impact that they have. Consumers still trust many of the media brands
like the New York Times and are so ﬂooded with information that they’re now
whittling down what they pay attention to. With a good public relations strategy,
you can reach those outlets (traditional and digital) that consumers trust while
being able to forego the ones that haven’t earned the trust of their communities.
Consumers of media have limited time, limited attention, and limited trust. If
you don’t know who to publish your news to, it may never get seen.
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The Beneﬁts of Social Media
As the prevalence of social media continues to rise, organizations of all types
and sizes are recognizing the ways in which social media can help them better
understand, respond to, and attract the attention of their target audience. As a
result, businesses are now jumping on the social media bandwagon at a rapid pace,
embracing blogs, social networks, wikis, and other vehicles to achieve their
marketing and public relations goals.
What types of beneﬁts can companies achieve with an effective social media
Get the Message Out Faster – and to More People
Social media enables more rapid sharing of information. It may take hours, or
even days, for a new announcement to reach the end consumer through traditional
channels. Why? Because when a press release is issued, a journalist or writer must
ﬁrst wade through all the sales and marketing lingo to ﬁnd the key points. Then, the
content must be re-purposed in article format, and sent to an editor or proofreader
before it is published.
Social media channels, on the other hand, allow for instantaneous
dissemination of not just news, but images, audio, video, and other multimedia
content as well. And because releases geared toward social media outlets contain
only key highlights, pertinent facts, and links to related statistics and quotes, the
information they contain can be immediately picked up and posted by bloggers
and other online journalists. Ask any major news outlet how often they've been
scooped by Twitter, from Supreme Court decisions to Olympics coverage to local
Need further proof? Turn on any cable news channel and see how often social
media is being referenced, if not directly imported into the shows themselves.
Social media also provides more widespread coverage, enabling breaking news
to reach a much larger and broader reader base than standard media outlets alone.
While magazine readership and the number of available print publications
continue to decline, the number of consumers using the Internet to access and
share information continues to rise sharply. Facebook now sports over a billion
users who are logging in and reading, sharing, and talking daily.
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AuthorRank, who writes the content for you for search purposes is as important as
what they write. It’s a huge shift for companies; forward-thinking companies will
encourage employees to nurture and grow their own authority and authorship and
then lend that to the company. Backwards-thinking companies will lose employees
who understand that their digital rolodex is part of their value and career path –
stiﬂing that will stiﬂe the employee’s career prospects for the future.
Content marketing with things like guest blog posts will be a lot more
competitive as forward-thinking marketers look for guest authors who are willing to
share some of their AuthorRank with the places they write. This, by the way, must
be set up bilaterally in order for Google to count it – the author must declare on
their Google+ proﬁle that they’re guest blogging as a contributor somewhere in
addition to links in the content itself. Unscrupulous marketers will gain no beneﬁt
from digital name dropping without the authors reciprocating.
Think about the game-changing power of AuthorRank when it comes to public
relations. If you can develop good relations with bloggers, authors, writers, and
journalists and link their AuthorRank to your digital properties, you’ll be creating
earned media with incredible value that will persist long past an equivalent media
Even hiring in marketing may change at the most cutting-edge, forward-
thinking companies. Companies looking for speciﬁc marketing beneﬁts like social
authority and search engine marketing may need to adjust their strategies to hire
people who have and are willing to share their personal authority with the
Ultimately, AuthorRank will be incredibly empowering to every marketer and
digital communicator who is creating content. Being recognized for your authority
and authorship in the world of search marketing lends additional value to
everything you do. If you’ve not gotten started on setting up authorship and the
prerequisites for AuthorRank for yourself and your company, get started today.
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because they move as a group, as an "inﬂuence army", where lots of people moving
in concert vastly outweighs what a single inﬂuencer could do.
A standard "inﬂuencer outreach" campaign would have missed both of these
examples. Beware looking for the magic bullet single inﬂuencer! Both examples
above are shining cases of why there's simply no substitute for being a valued
member of these velvet rope communities long before you need them, because in
order to leverage the inﬂuence of the private community as a whole, you need to
have earned a tremendous amount of social currency beforehand in service to the
How do you get in? Depending on your company size (or the agency you hire),
you may already have employees involved in some of the communities that could
affect your business positively. Ask around! If you've got an all-company email list,
ask your employees what groups they know of, and be sure to encourage your
employees (with appropriate policy and guidance) to be proactive in joining and
participating in communities as they ﬁnd them in your industry. Instruct them not to
sell, just to be helpful and valuable members of the communities, so that when a
time comes that you need to leverage the power of your extended community, your
team can mobilize those groups effectively.
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TOP 10 GUIDELINES FOR SOCIAL MEDIA PARTICIPATION AT (COMPANY)
These guidelines apply to (COMPANY) employees or contractors who create or
contribute to blogs, wikis, social networks, virtual worlds, or any other kind of
Social Media. Whether you log into Twitter, Yelp, Wikipedia, MySpace or Facebook
pages, or comment on online media stories — these guidelines are for you. While
all (COMPANY) employees are welcome to participate in Social Media, we expect
everyone who participates in online commentary to understand and to follow these
simple but important guidelines. These rules might sound strict and contain a bit of
legal-sounding jargon but please keep in mind that our overall goal is simple: to
participate online in a respectful, relevant way that protects our reputation and of
course follows the letter and spirit of the law.
1. Be transparent and state that you work at (COMPANY). Your honesty will be
noted in the Social Media environment. If you are writing about (COMPANY) or a
competitor, use your real name, identify that you work for (COMPANY), and be
clear about your role. If you have a vested interest in what you are discussing, be
the ﬁrst to say so.
2. Never represent yourself or (COMPANY) in a false or misleading way. All
statements must be true and not misleading; all claims must be substantiated.
3. Post meaningful, respectful comments — in other words, please, no spam and
no remarks that are off-topic or offensive.
4. Use common sense and common courtesy: for example, it’s best to ask
permission to publish or report on conversations that are meant to be private or
internal to (COMPANY). Make sure your efforts to be transparent don't violate
(COMPANY)'s privacy, conﬁdentiality, and legal guidelines for external commercial
5. Stick to your area of expertise and do feel free to provide unique, individual
perspectives on non-conﬁdential activities at (COMPANY).
6. When disagreeing with others' opinions, keep it appropriate and polite. If you
ﬁnd yourself in a situation online that looks as if it’s becoming antagonistic, do not
get overly defensive and do not disengage from the conversation abruptly: feel free
to ask the PR Director for advice and/or to disengage from the dialogue in a polite
manner that reﬂects well on (COMPANY).
7. If you want to write about the competition, make sure you behave
diplomatically, have the facts straight and that you have the appropriate
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8. Please never comment on anything related to legal matters, litigation, or any
parties (COMPANY) may be in litigation with.
9. Never participate in Social Media when the topic being discussed may be
considered a crisis situation. Even anonymous comments may be traced back to
your or (COMPANY)’s IP address. Refer all Social Media activity around crisis
topics to PR and/or Legal Affairs Director.
10. Be smart about protecting yourself, your privacy, and (COMPANY)’s
conﬁdential information. What you publish is widely accessible and will be around
for a long time, so consider the content carefully. Google has a long memory.
NOTE: Mainstream media inquiries must be referred to the Director of Public
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Facebook announced Graph Search recently in its press conference, a new form of
social search that relies on friends and connected parties to ﬁnd interesting results.
Instead of traversing search archives about topics, Graph Search lets you traverse
social networks for people who know about the topics.
It should take almost no time for Graph Search Optimization companies to
spring up overnight for optimizing your marketing programs for Graph Search. I'll
save you some time with a few simple guidelines based on what Facebook has
1. It's about who you know. Google Search is about what. Facebook Graph
Search is about who. Change how you think about search for Facebook. The two
strategies are incompatible, so you can't just copy your Google SEO strategies
blindly and hope it all works out.
2. It's actually technically about who knows you. If you have the right, relevant
audience, then when people are asking friends of friends about your industry,
Graph Search will connect them. Guess what that means? You should be asking
vigorously of your customers, of your mailing list, of anyone relevant to your
industry, to hit the ol' Like button.
Also, you can ﬂing anything you heard about the value of a Facebook Like
straight out the window now, if you haven't already. This changes that game
3. Your fans are ofﬁcially your marketing force whether they want to be or not.
With Graph Search, people who like your Facebook Page and share your stuff will
automatically be referral marketing on your behalf. In their brieﬁng they said, "You
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want a search tool that can help you get access to things people have shared with
you." The value of someone hitting the Share Button is now signiﬁcantly higher
because the algorithm for Graph Search is going to make the logical connections
from public and friends' shares.
Get your friends, customers, prospects, and evangelists to Share your stuff as
often as possible.
4. Engagement matters (more). Facebook is quite clear about that: "Focus on
attracting the right fans to your Page and on giving your fans a reason to interact
with your content on an ongoing basis." Engage, because the algorithm, given two
choices for a search, will pick the higher engagement one to list ﬁrst. In their words,
"Results are ranked by people you care the most about; the rest are sorted by
mutual friends and other signals in the Facebook system." That means EdgeRank,
which is composed of freshness, relevance, and closeness.
Get people talking with your Facebook Page by any legitimate means you can.
5. Add location data to your Facebook Page or else. Graph Search has geo-
targeting built in. For that matter, make sure that your Facebook Page is as
complete as you can make it for your business.
As more is revealed about Facebook Graph Search, there will be more ways to
take advantage of it, but this is a list of things you can do right now, today, to
prepare. If you want to get in on the Graph Search beta as a user, Facebook has a
waiting list here.