Two of the greatest challenges facing public relations pros and clients are staying on message over time, and remaining relevant to two diverse audiences, the press and the publics. The news release, the 20th century PR workhorse, is no longer an adequate tool on which to build an on going, successful marketing communications effort.
Today, company spokespeople—especially wannabe industry leaders in creative marketing services firms where intellectual capital rules over product—need a bully platform from which to state their case to key constituencies. And while the Internet has evolved some interesting tools, from blogs, social networks and chat/discussion sites few have yet found the key to effectively harnessing their potential.
You’re the Expert, Become a Leader
What can a PR practitioner tell a client who seeks to cultivate a position of industry leadership? “Write the book.” The “book” is the key to establishing a lasting leadership position delivering significant benefits, from frequent media interview requests to paid speaking invitations to new business inquiries. Most importantly, a published book is a supreme sales aid that sets forth one’s unique selling proposition and industry perspective. But even while clients applaud the concept, they say they simply have no time to invest in the effort.
So are we back to square one – the news release or perhaps the sporadic blog entry? No way. The development of a book concept provides an excellent foundation for a communications campaign that delivers on-going publicity results while it reinforces key messages and the company mission.
The Book Process as PR Foundation
Just about every successful company has evolved a distinct approach that sets them apart from the pack. Here’s the secret to the process of PR campaign as book development project.
1. Discovery: The first step is to sit down with the client and have them present their process. Their new business presentation is generally a good starting point. Generally, this will reveal their key distinctions and provides the outline for development.
2. Introduction: From the client’s mission/mantra/sales presentation will flow an overview of their distinctive worldview. This becomes the basis for the introduction, which will evolve throughout the PR campaign.
3. Codify: Next, break the process down into the key phases, and give the stages titles, which will become the major sections of the book.
4. Chapterize: Now, focus on each major stage or section. Enumerate the steps required to complete each. These are the chapters—give them working titles. Let’s estimate six chapters for each of the three section – 3x 6 = 18 chapters.
5. Summarize: Finally, review the client’s deliverables, which could be anything from a social networking site to a viral marketing campaign, then summarize their key benefits. This will eventually become the conclusion.
6. Where’s the Campaign? Now you might ask, where is the public relations campaign? It is neatly embedded in the 18 chapters, and here is how it works. To develop strong relationships with key journalists, we recommend communicating (offering content) twice a month. It is, of course, crucial to remain relevant, and concise, or risk wearing out your welcome.
The 18 chapters become the foundation of a 36-week communications campaign. Each chapter becomes the theme of a bi-weekly statement that concisely summarizes its key points, citing examples, cases, data, etc. Each chapter summary is the kernel, or abstract, of a full-length article, which you offer to write for interested editors. Meanwhile, the chapter summaries serve to keep you on the radar of appropriate journalists, while driving home your perspective and offer to provide more insight in interviews.
While process is never chiseled in stone, and unexpected opportunities will surely arise midstream, this technique will provide an on-going opportunity to explore and communicate your industry perspective while delivering valuable publicity results throughout. Finally, at the conclusion of the campaign, you will find that the 18 chapter summaries will provide much of the basis for a book proposal.
Len Stein is president of Visibility Public Relations.