As the summer winds down, I have been reflecting on the rewarding experiences gained working at my first internship in Public Relations at Young & Associates. PR is intriguing because it is an intersection of many of my areas of interest including human connection and writing. With this internship being so hands-on, I’ve gained crucial knowledge working directly with our clients on social media campaigns, thought leadership, media relations and more. Here are three of the most important things I’ve learned about PR:
Relationships are Key
To establish confidence between a client and their agency it is critical to build strong relationships from the beginning. Developing these relationships requires a solid rapport combined with a well grounded understanding of the client’s mission. These relationships are maintained by going beyond what is required in a typical campaign such as anticipating needs and suggesting creative and results-driven ways to meet them. In addition, establishing a continued connection with relevant industry journalists will ensure the best possible chance of getting coverage for your clients.
Adaptability is Crucial
The only thing constant about working in PR is that things are always changing. Whether it be changes in messaging, adapting to a client’s roadmap schedules or inevitable crises, my experience so far has taught me the importance of adaptability in day-to-day tasks and priorities. An important part of adaptability is being present for your clients and colleagues when extra help is needed. The ability to switch from task to task is imperative as different needs will emerge from all areas.
Collaboration Yields the Best Results
With so many moving pieces in a PR campaign, it’s easy for things to get overwhelming for both client and agency. Whether it be social posts, press releases, or byline articles, there shouldn’t be one piece of a campaign that is viewed by only one person. Each person working on a campaign, whether that be the client themselves, a seasoned PR pro or, even an intern such as myself, has a unique perspective they can use to make the best possible final product.
It’s no surprise that since the pandemic, editorial teams have continued to evolve the ways they drum up stories and connect with sources. And as their bandwidth is often at capacity, they are more focused on the timeliest and most relevant pitch ideas for their coverage areas.
Here are some helpful tips for breaking through the noise and fostering successful media relations.
1) Offer New Takes on Trends – Before offering a pitch idea, ensure that the angle is novel or reveals something new about a particular trend. Review the particular reporter’s recent coverage and acknowledge how your organization’s proposed idea helps further the industry narrative. If possible, offer customers that can speak to the issue from a recent, real-world perspective.
2) Avoid Blanket Pitching – While it may seem easier to send the same exact story idea to a long list of publications (and many reporters at each outlet), this is often a mistake unless the news is truly relevant to all of them. A more tailored, thoughtful pitch approach to publications where there is strong topical alignment is most appreciated by reporters.
3) Expand into New Publications – In today’s digital age, industries often intersect in new ways that extend the value of content into different markets. For example, more business and technology focused publications are covering relevant news about particular industries. Take this opportunity to expand the reach of your media relations program and take a chance on exploring new outlets.
Some of Young & Associates’ greatest strengths mirror the biggest tenets we push in PR – tenacity, fortitude and agility. And strong stomachs as rejection is always a possibility. Part journalist and part sales, we help our clients secure positive media coverage by shaping relevant, timely and unique stories. For the celebrated yes’s, when we connect our clients with their priority media targets, that is just half the battle. Next comes facilitating a productive interview where the journalist connects with our client’s story. And then, the last mile – coverage.
What often gets lost is that no one beyond the publication can actually control the last mile of earned media. While we can connect our clients with the right journalists and make sure they are prepped with the right messages, at the end of the day the journalist and their editors pull the strings at the finish line.
With this in mind, we employ agile PR practices for every media opportunity to navigate the natural ebbs and flows. This helps us determine what’s newsworthy and trending and enables us to pivot quickly on angles and examples. But the real strength of our PR programs – and the reason most of our clients are long-haulers – is due to our senior team’s strategic and results-based approach as we lead up to the moment of anxiously awaiting the last mile.
We’re thrilled to announce that Young & Associates has been named the winner of the 2021 EdTech Awards “Public Relations (PR) Firm Working in EdTech” Leadership category! Hosted by EdTech Digest for the 11th year, the awards program recognizes, acknowledges and celebrates the most exceptional innovators, leaders, and trendsetters in education technology.
Young & Associates is proud to have represented many edtech organizations over the years, delivering full scale, award-winning media relations and thought leadership programs. Nearly half of our current clients are edtech-focused, including Anthology, Terra Dotta, CollegeSource and Rah Rah. Former ed tech clients range from Datatel/Sungard Higher Education (now Ellucian), Panopto and Chalk & Wire (acquired by Campus Labs; now part of Anthology) to Interfolio, Softdocs SchoolDude (now Dude Solutions) and more. These client programs include a strategic combination of media interviews, press releases, byline articles, blogs, awards, analyst relations, research, social media, etc.
Many thanks to our clients (past and present) and friends for your ongoing support and partnership in helping us earn this achievement!
Surveying the marketplace on important trends and drivers can be an effective strategy for keeping a pulse on your industry, demonstrating leadership and developing media relationships.
Reporters are consistently interested in what the latest research can reveal about a market. Young & Associates recently helped higher ed tech clients CollegeSource and Anthology promote new research on student enrollment, alumni giving and student transfer.
In 2020, any PR plan we had developed quickly went out the window in March as the world had to turn on a dime to adjust for quarantines, working from home, kids’ virtual learning and an endless amount of Zoom calls. While we wish there was a crystal ball for 2021 there are many unknowns. Here are three takeaways from 2020 that will help use sur-thrive:
1) Lean into Research
As highlighted in the PR Pulse, surveys and collective user platform data can reveal unique industry insights that help the media report on a marketplace. Look for ways to tell a story with your data.
2) Talk to Your Clients and Tell Their Stories
Typical case studies with KPI and ROI metrics can be a hard sell – especially with big brands. Collaborate with your clients and ask for permission to tell a joint story – via a byline or media Q&A that is based on qualitative insights and experiences.
3) Establish a Point of View
While there are opportunities to offer best practices or how-to articles, real thought leadership comes from a point of view. Even better if you can articulate and support a contrarian viewpoint.
Nine months into the pandemic, no one can ignore the ever-shifting challenges and expectations – whether you’re trying to maintain business collaborations virtually, managing a full-scale remote schooling environment or navigating family and social interactions (or perhaps all of these at once!). However, what we can do is remember to also acknowledge thegood stuff happening around us.
These days things often look and feel different than what we “normally” would experience outside of a pandemic, but it doesn’t mean that the value of our experiences, work and connections are diminished. We may be glued to the Zoom screen instead of meeting face to face, but we can still share great ideas, improve target outcomes and develop strong relationships.
This year, I’m especially grateful for the people who I love and care for – family, friends and colleagues – as well as the communities surrounding all of us virtually. I hope you will join me in returning to gratitude this season – I’m counting on it to help us maintain a sense of collective support and resilience.
With the close of a crazy 2020 in sight, budget season is here and more uncertain than ever. Conferences and events have taken an inordinate hit this year as business travel came to a grinding halt. With the status of 2021 conferences in limbo, marketers have an opportunity to revisit other ways to allocate some of those funds.
Here are three ways your PR team can help supplement a lighter conference budget and support the lead gen pipeline in 2021.
Content rules – Tech buyers who may normally keep a pulse on trends by attending industry events are homebound and looking for ways to keep on top of new developments. Extend your PR and content programs to include more white papers, case studies, blogs and podcasts to communicate how your industry, your clients and your platform are responding and performing amid these unprecedented times.
– Reporters are always interested in research reports, but now that we are in
unknown territory, they are looking for the real impacts of the pandemic. Look
for ways to leverage your anonymized platform data to illustrate trends and
tell a marketplace story. The PR team should have some insight on how to
utilize this data and tell a story about changes in use cases or a rise in
certain features and functionality since the pandemic or other news event.
– Without the steady foot traffic from exhibit halls and conference meetings,
companies must lean into social media and ensure they are active on the
appropriate channels and regularly sharing content and company news. This is
also a time to offer short commentary on relevant industry news. Your PR team
is already monitoring the news stream and commentary in your industry. Empower
them to help you be a voice in your industry.
With the news cycle dominated by the pandemic, the election and racial injustice, it can be difficult to discern what is of interest to journalists on any given day. This includes national, local, business, technology and various trade media. Additionally, many reporters are still operating remotely and may have limited availability.
Here are some tips for staying connected, relevant and in sync with rapidly evolving reporter needs.
Study Coverage Trends
Keep a pulse on the fast-moving coverage patterns for target journalists and outlets to get a sense of where their focus is trending. This will help inform timely pitch angles that hook effectively into recent news or support upcoming ideas that address forthcoming marketplace needs.
Offer Customer Examples
To support new or innovative points of view from company executives, provide examples of customers that reflect these viewpoints and illustrate the real-world application of concepts. This is particularly helpful if the example is recent and relatable as it will help encourage reporters to include your company in addition to your customer.
Don’t Be Afraid to Forecast
With a level of uncertainty permeating most industries, many journalists are interested in future-looking trends that could signal the next direction or opportunity. It’s a great time to offer market leadership perspectives about what’s to come or how current trends could shift in the next 3-6 months.
It’s been an incredibly busy past few months as we onboarded three new clients and managed the launch of several major client initiatives. In the not so subtle background loomed everything and anything related to COVID-19.
Bored kids lurk just around the corner, Zoom calls dominate our workday and an always-present feeling of anxiousness exists that questions if we are doing enough and doing it right for all the demands in our lives right now.
And yet, as PR pros we push and pull trying to navigate these unchartered waters and help our clients appropriately fit into current conversations. But in it all, we have established stronger bonds with our clients — shifting what was once just conference calls to Zoom meetings and talking more about the importance of life and personal strife. The same rings true for connections with journalists, whom we’ve always maintained a strong business relationship with but now have had the opportunity to connect with on a deeper level thanks to many of thesame challenges and journeys.
The COVID-19 twists and turns are far from over but finding the hidden gems, particularly when divisiveness seems to prevail, can be a guiding light in these stressful times.