Time to spring clean!

Spring is traditionally a time for decluttering and cleaning. This got me thinking about the parallels between spring cleaning your home or office and doing the same to your PR strategies and activities. In both cases, many items have gathered over the years that are no longer fresh or relevant, that take up space, time, money and that are just downright unnecessary. But which you cling to “because we’ve always done it that way” or because you simply lack the time to declutter or streamline. Or you simply don’t know where to start…

At A3 Communications we don’t like mess and clutter. Just like you, we don’t want to waste time on unnecessary work, calls or admin – in fact, we even have bespoke apps developed to maximise our efficiency! In this blog, I’m going to take a look at six areas where you can make a start on Spring cleaning your PR strategy and activities.

1.    Streamline your press release calendar: now, while we appreciate that it’s good to issue news about your organisation’s progress and achievements, our mantra at A3 Communications is “quality not quantity,” especially in Europe where there are fewer industry journalists than there are in the US for example, and hence where the press is highly selective with regard to what makes the cut. Of course you need to keep your audience informed and share news about your progress so it’s important to have at least one release every six or eight weeks but make sure it’s newsworthy outside your company walls. Also, cut back on the number of announcements you put in your wire distribution funnel it’s worth bearing in mind that in Europe such services are not as effective as they are it is in the US and they are usually a waste of budget. Instead, email the news to a more targeted list and have to hand an up-to-date subset of contacts who like to get releases in advance, under embargo. Always think about who you are sending each announcement to rather than “spamming” your entire distribution list. And while on the budget, you certainly don’t have to translate every press release into every language. Be selective and optimise what, where and how you distribute and you’ll improve the effectiveness of your outreach significantly.

2.    Consolidate your social media presence: a number of comms agencies regularly recommend regional social media campaigns. But having separate social media accounts for different territories isn’t always ideal, bearing in mind that in many European countries for example platforms such as linkedIn, Twitter and YouTube are not firmly established as B2B comms tools yet. In addition to being a waste of efforts, time and money, multiple accounts from one B2B organisation can create confusion amongst its targets and become a nightmare to manage and keep current and consistent with company messages. So streamline your social media presence and focus on creating and sharing great content instead.

3.    Cut back on industry awards: there are so many awards out there but they often take a lot of time, effort and sometimes money, to enter. But are they all worth it? We don’t think so. Be more selective and think carefully about what you want to achieve from your nomination: getting listed in the award marketing materials as an entrant/finalist/winner? Networking at the awards ceremony? Having something to shout about to your customers and partners if you win? Remember, from a purely PR standpoint, awards have limited value – especially those linked to particular publications as no other publishing house will be interested in your celebratory press release since it promotes one of their competitors. Of course for marketing and social media purposes it’s a different ballgame…

4.    Be selective with trade show briefings: at A3 Communications, we have noticed that journalists, analysts and bloggers are increasingly reluctant to arrange formal briefings at the big shows. They like to arrive at the event and play it by ear depending on what and who is on show. If they do agree to a meeting, they might get held up in a previous appointment and end up running late. Or sometimes the conference programme is so attractive that it is more alluring than a vendor briefing! This leads to frustration on all sides. Let me be clear: I’m not saying that you shouldn’t set up interviews at events but if you don’t have something to discuss that your targets will consider newsworthy in the eyes of their readers, you are better off focussing efforts on individual (embargoed) phone or face-to-face briefings before the show, when targets are less distracted and generally more available. Many of these shows exist mainly for sales purposes anyway so if you want to maximise your PR at an event, we recommend picking a show that has a proven media programme (this can change from year to year by the way so keep your eyes – and mind – wide open!).

5.    Delegate spokesperson tasks: back to my earlier comment about unnecessary calls. If you are a key spokesperson for your company, you no doubt find a lot of your time taken up with briefings. So why not claim back some much-needed time by spreading the workload? You might have a hidden gem amongst your SEs or in your sales team so have a look at your colleagues and see if there are any potential spokespeople who can help ease the burden for you. From experience I can tell you that you will find at least some who welcome the opportunity to share their thoughts and knowledge through interviews.

6.    Write less: not as a company but you, personally! Just as there may be fantastic potential spokespeople for your organisation beyond you or your own team, you may find the same is true when it comes to blogging and writing overall. Some sales reps and engineers are very active on platforms such as linkedIn, Twitter or XING you can take advantage of that and widen your pool of bloggers for example, or have them write copy for your PR programme. It’s a win/win situation. These colleagues will feel more involved and will be proud to represent their company. And your blog will benefit from different writing styles and more varied topic areas. And – best of all – you will win back some precious time!

Clean, uncluttered PR programmes are more effective PR programmes. Communications activities generally will benefit from a good dose of Spring cleaning. A “busy” tactics list doesn’t equal results or success always ask yourself “is this relevant?” “Will this help us meet our objectives?” “Can we do this more efficiently?” So go on… give Spring cleaning a go!

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