Over the years, I’ve learned how important it is to keep communication with editors open, consistent and compelling. It’s interesting to observe how some PR agencies get caught up in the process of reaching out to editors only when there’s an announcement or product launch. Why is that? If you think about it in terms of having a relationship with editors, then why do you only contact them when you there’s an announcement? Editors are extremely valuable resources of information and their readers are our clients’ customers. In fact, we’re both trying to reach the same audience. So instead of just talking at editors, why not partner with them on a conversation?
When I was working with Microsoft we had a program called the Columnist Campaign. The purpose of this campaign was to match up a Microsoft spokesman with a particular columnist and arrange for consistent times during a month where they would have a call and discuss a variety of topics. In between product launches and other announcements, we would initiate a dialogue about a topic that was interesting and topical from an industry perspective. We didn’t have a specific goal of getting coverage as a result of these conversations. Our goal was to simply open the line of communication, to share our thoughts and to hear theirs.
The result was that these columnists would often write about the topic we brought to table because the topic was compelling. Sometimes they would come up with a different topic on the fly during the call and get our clients’ thoughts on it. We also would often hear about a story they were working on that we might not have otherwise known about. There were even occasions when the columnist would call the bounce story ideas off of their Microsoft spokesperson for a reality check.
As we’ve been working with Tektronix (a world leader in test & measurement tools like oscilloscopes and waveform monitors) during the past few years, we’ve realized there was a similar opportunity to open the lines of communication up with our target editors. Formerly Tektronix was only focused on talking to editors when there was a product launch or news announcement. In our target engineering publications there aren’t many stand-alone columnists since many of our editors wear multiple writing hats. They have their own columns and blogs as well as write about product announcements and other news items.
When we launched our “Tek Talk” program we weren’t sure if the editors would find it as useful as the columnists did with Microsoft but right off the bat they were very enthusiastic about it. So about every 60 days, we arrange calls to have a discussion with the editors about a topic that we bring to the table. Tektronix experts discuss what they’re seeing in the industry and hearing from their customers and the editors share what they’ve been hearing from their readers. It’s a great dialogue.
The results have been similar to what we saw with Microsoft. Because of the open dialogue that we’ve developed with our editors, we’ve been able to be more helpful than ever to the editorial process. We’ve found out about many stories being worked on that we wouldn’t have normally known about and have been able to provide valuable insight to strengthen articles overall. We’ve come up with some strong topics and we’ve persuaded our editors to write articles about the issues we’ve discussed on the calls. One example is this piece on USB 3.0. We’ve also been asked to provide contributed content and have been given coverage opportunities we normally would not have been given. Our “Tek Talk” program has been a big success and a win-win scenario for both the editors and our clients.
And now with the world of social media, keeping those lines of communication open is even more key to a successful public relations and communications program. We’d like to welcome you to check out our website to hear more about strategies we’ve employed with our various clients and how we’re leveraging the world of social media to ensure our clients’ success. www.mckenzieworldwide.com
Author: Megan McKenzie
Megan McKenzie provides strategic leadership to McKenzie Worldwide and the agency’s work with technology companies in enterprise, consumer, wireless, networking, & cybersecurity.