A public relations campaign can be time-consuming, but when done well, it can be one of the most effective keys to the success of any faith-based or faith-friendly product, cause, service or brand. PR isn’t a replacement for traditional advertising. In fact, it should work in tandem with an advertising campaign to ensure the proper audiences are reached at the right times. Traditional advertising provides guaranteed exposure with the message of your choice at the specific time you slot. PR provides you with editorial information passed from media gatekeepers directly to their audiences via radio, publications, internet sites and TV. It happens on their schedule and with their interpretation of your message. Of course, that’s why quality publicists have such value. Their relationships maximize your chances for coverage, and for coverage that is more on target with your messaging. Publicists can write the most creative pitch and represent it to the best outlets, but ultimately it is up to the media gatekeepers as to whether or not they pursue coverage. That’s why it’s important to do everything you can to make your PR efforts as streamlined and targeted for key media outlets as possible.
Here are five key tips to remember as you prepare your next Christian PR campaign:
1. Hook editors with the first line of your pitch.
Editors’ inboxes are overflowing with pitches, press releases, and story ideas from publicists, writers and other industry enthusiasts. Your first line has to make them keep reading or you will lose your chance at any coverage, period. Grab their attention with a pointed question, a surprising statistic, an audacious fact or a humorous anecdote. Get to your point fast. Media gatekeepers don’t have time to read every word that passes through their inbox, so state your business in a creative way, and give them a reason to hit “reply.”
2. Find the unique angle.
A new product release is no longer enough of a story angle to stand out on its own. In other words, “Now Available” is not your best tag line. While a person’s previous body of work and impressive resume obviously add to the credibility of a new announcement, it’s important to unearth the things that make this new initiative, program, event, cause, book, album, TV show and so on DIFFERENT from all the others out there. There’s nothing new under the sun, so what is it about your product or service that is truly innovative?
3. Tell a bigger story.
No matter what you are selling, story wins every time. That’s not only true in public relations, that’s true in every form of Christian advertising and marketing. Whether it’s a product or service, make sure you are telling a larger story. Is there a charitable cause that your net proceeds will support? What’s the heart behind your service? What larger, more significant narrative is this piece of art telling? How will your product or service contribute to society on a local or global level? Media outlets and their info-consumers want to be a part of a larger story, so make sure you’re telling one.
4. Research, Research, Research.
One of the biggest mistakes publicists often make is sending out blind pitches. Think quality over quantity. It’s important to thoroughly familiarize yourself with an outlet before pitching a story idea. Find out the name of the correct editor to submit pitches to, and address them by name to make it personal. Suggest a specific section of the magazine, newspaper or radio or TV show where your story would be a natural fit. Don’t waste your time pitching to editors whose audiences don’t match your product offerings. Your pitches will stand out to editors if they are personalized and clearly tailored to the publication, proving you’ve already taken time to educate yourself on the media outlet.
5. Make relationships a priority.
This tip may sound tried and true, but the reality is it’s probably the most important thing you can do when running a PR campaign. Get to know the editors you’re pitching to. If they’re local, take them out for lunch or coffee. Ask them questions about their publication and the types of stories they’re looking for. Beyond that, get to know their personality and their pet peeves. Find out their preference for pitching. Do they answer email faster or prefer a follow-up by phone? Discover how you can work together to achieve an end result that’s mutually beneficial.
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