4 Common PR Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Media outlets are closing, audiences are shifting their loyalties, and journalists are telling stories in different ways. It’s impossible to deny: the media landscape is changing, and PRs are on the front line of its irrepressible evolution.

Managing a PR strategy has always been something of a balancing act, combining client expectations with stories journalists can’t wait to tell. But now the challenges are greater, made all the more difficult by their shifting nature.  So how do we respond to these ever-changing circumstances? Here at Kaizen, we’ve observed a handful of common challenges, and formulated strategies to overcome them.

This article will talk you through some of the main challenges we’ve been facing, and how we’ve remained adaptable whilst still knocking it out of the park with our campaigns.

Challenge 1: The rise in pay-per-placement

You know the feeling: you’ve got an irresistible story to tell and you just know someone’s going to bite. The emails start flooding in: “yes please!” they clamour.  “We’d love it!”

Then your eyes skip to the bottom, and you see the dreaded words: “so what’s your budget?”

Don’t despair. It’s happened to all of us, and with bloggers bringing new business models to the media landscape and smaller outlets fighting to survive, it’s bound to happen again. But there are some easy things you can do to cut through the dollar-hunting crowd and get straight to the (free) jackpot.

The Solution? Be honest… and take notes!

Whether you have a whole team, a couple of freelancers, or a one-(wo)man-band, the rule is the same: when you receive one of these irritating emails, be sure to make a note on your database. Most tools (we love Buzzstream… #shamelessplug) provide a section for notes on each journalist or publication, enabling you to avoid prospecting the same individual in future outreach processes. Perhaps it goes without saying, but be sure that you then always refer to these notes when creating a new prospect list!

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to push back. You’ve gotten this far, so you might as well respond to the journalist to let them know you don’t pay for placement. It’s certainly worked for our team before!

Challenge 2: Measuring Coverage Success

You’re bound to have noticed this, but the days of simple ROI calculations are long gone. Even those demonstrating their PR value financially are struggling to adhere to vague formulas that are less of a science and more of an art (or possibly even dark magic, depending on whom you ask). With traditional PR, there is no one-size-fits-all measuring stick. Some formulas simply calculate the value of the client’s mention as a proportion of the page’s overall ad rate; others proceed to multiply this number by three to reflect the additional (and intangible) value added by a PR mention. Other formulas exist, but if one thing’s certain, it is this: it’s too confusing, and virtually meaningless without real consistency.

The solution to this common trap is an easy one: redefine your PR objectives, and change what you measure.

PR does so much more than drive sales. It drives web traffic, increases brand awareness, establishes (and consolidates) credibility, positions a brand as a thought leader, fuels personality-led businesses, develops a carefully selected vocabulary for talking about a brand and so. much. more.

So how to measure this? In a digital world, online PR is where it’s at. More valuable than a slap-bang financial value is PR that fortifies the web presence of a brand, enabling it to better establish itself across all its sales, marketing and customer relationship channels. Stop measuring ad rates, and start measuring the quality (via their DA or similar) and quantity of your backlinks.

Challenge 3: Taking a Story to the International Press

You know your story’s got legs. So why ain’t it walkin’?

Nowadays, a story can be consumed anywhere in the world, and clients want to talk to global audiences. What’s more, people are better travelled and better connected than ever before, creating diverse, world-aware audiences who want to consume internationally-relevant content, even in their home country.

What happens when your story just isn’t being picked up?

This is one of those situations where you may have been in front of your story so long, and know it so well, that you forget there may be a couple more dots to connect in order to make it equally compelling in a global context.

So what can be done? Simples: remember that story hooks and reader demographics and expectations will vary geographically. Make sure you’re reading stories told by international outlets, to keep up with the form and content of popular, current stories.  

The next step is to ensure that you’ve highlighted the elements of your story that carry a local (as well as a broader, global) relevance, and make it as relatable as possible to your new target audience.  Personalise, personalise, personalise. It doesn’t need to be difficult: even simply using vocabulary and currency that’s relevant to your specific demographic will carry your story far. You can read more about maximising a range of different PR strategies here.

Challenge 4: Traditional Outlets are Closing, Merging or otherwise Disappearing

For the past few years, the entire world’s media landscape seems to have been flying over the Bermuda Triangle, and disappearing almost without warning. Magazines are folding. Papers are being consolidated. Print space is drastically reduced. Our poor journalist friends, our dearest counterparts on this semi-dystopian journey, are being laid off and those that remain are being stretched over multiple publications. Weddings, garden sheds, interior design, personal finance and the car industry, anyone?

In the context of these ever-shifting sands, it can be hard to know how to angle your PR strategy. Most are looking for different outlets. But have you thought about different ways of telling stories?

It’s time to adapt to a digital PR strategy!

In the age of digital, the world is our oyster, and it encourages us to use as much imagination and creativity as we can muster.  

Traditional PR is commonly associated with media outreach to traditional publications, such as print newspapers, radio and television. Placements rely heavily on a network of long-established journalist relationships, who are familiar with a brand or story. Traditional PR also encompasses  strategies such as crisis communications and reputation management.

Digital PR shares the same key objectives as traditional PR, though it has a focus on taking stories to carefully-targeted audiences via online channels. However, a digital PR strategy is about so much more than simply putting your offline content, online.

It’s about telling stories as creatively and engagingly as possible, via a variety of media (such as video, social media posts and an influencer network), to land coverage in online publications, gain social media mentions and – ultimately – lead to the all-powerful backlink. It also underpins any self-respecting SEO strategy, and comes full-circle in the form of increased brand awareness, web traffic and revenue.

With these four tips you should be well on your way to creating a fool-proof PR strategy. But why do it alone? We’re full of tips and tricks, and would love to help you on your way.

Do these match up with the biggest challenges you’ve faced recently? Let us know in the comments…

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