Public Relations Q & A
Dealing With Media and Research Analysts: Guidelines for clients
National Investor Relations Institute Regular Member Code of Ethics
Public Relations Q & A
What is Public Relations?
Public relations helps build awareness of companies, products, services, technologies, people and issues among key audiences and influencers. It helps companies create an identity in the industry, media and community. Public relations is the use of editorial outlets (magazines, newspapers, broadcast), special events, newsletters and other PR tools to convey a message to a targeted audience. Public relations is a discipline of management much like finance, accounting, human resources and law. There is a basic methodology that includes five points: goals, objectives, strategy, tactics and target audience.
What are the Tools of Public Relations?
There are many ways to reach target audiences. They are:
public service announcements
video news releases
other innovative avenues
What Can Public Relations do?
Public relations can add credibility/authority, create an opportunity to probe new markets for your product/service less expensively than advertising, test demand for new products in current markets and establish or increase awareness of your organization's message among key buyer and influencer audiences.
What Can't Public Relations do?
With public relations your control of the message is more limited than with advertising. There is no guarantee of frequency, how often or how many times your message will appear, or placement, where your message will appear. With public relations a reporter/editor is being "sold" a story. Even if the reporter "buys" the story, there is no guarantee of how or when he will use the story. However, PR has the advantage of third-party credibility. People tend to believe what they read much more than the ads they see. In fact, studies show that a reader is seven times more likely to respond to PR than to advertising and that articles written by reporters are four times more believable than advertisements
How does Eiler Communications work with companies?
At Eiler Communications, we believe that a PR firm and its client must take a team approach to implementing a successful PR program. Both members are key to the team's success. The client provides the product or technology expertise and Eiler provides the public relations expertise.
To make the relationship an effective one, team members agree to accept certain responsibilities:
A client expects results. To deliver on these expectations an agency must...
...Spend time with the client at the beginning of the relationship to gain understanding of the client's sales and marketing messages -- Who uses the technology or product? What is the buyer's incentive to purchase the product? How does the technology/product compare to others in the market?
...Identify influencers in the client's market -- Who are the market leaders? What influences purchasers' decisions? What publications do customers read? Who writes about the market?
...Maintain on-going contact with media and analysts covering the client's industry or market in order to remain up-to-date on key issues and opportunities.
...Provide the client with a constant flow of new ideas and strategies.
...Maintain a constant flow of communication with the client to exchange ideas, address issues and adapt the PR program to meet market changes.
...Provide expertise in media relations, positioning and related activities that will benefit the client's marketing communications plan and support sales efforts.
...Work with the client to set clear expectations for the PR program up front.
...Provide the client with deliverables and results in a proficient, timely manner.
An effective PR campaign is not executed in a vacuum. Constant communication and dissemination of information between the agency and the client are vital to success. For the PR program to achieve its goal a client must...
...Provide the agency, in a timely manner, with the information needed to get results -- access to company executives and referenceable customers, information on the customer's application of the technology, information on new products, new business relationships and other newsworthy events and functions.
...Include the agency as a strategic member of the sales and marketing team -- include agency members in sales and marketing meetings, copy the agency on sales and marketing materials that will be used with customers or that reference important events that may influence the company.
...Work with the agency from the beginning of the relationship to establish clear expectations for the PR program and a clearly defined and timely approval process for materials.
...Maintain a constant flow of open, honest communication between the agency and the client to address opportunities and problems, as well as successes and concerns.
...Work with the agency in a collaborative relationship with the client as the technology expert and the agency as the public relations expert.
Dealing With Media and Research Analysts: Guidelines for Client
Press & Analysts Take Control Of The Interview By Suggesting An Agenda For The Meeting
Take control of the interview from the beginning by offering your agenda for the meeting. If the editor or analyst asks questions that digress from your intended focus, answer politely but briefly and guide him or her back to the agenda. Plan to address any remaining questions afterwards. Some editors will resist this approach. Be flexible. Preserve your agenda while conducting an interview session.
Follow The Agreed Presentation Format
The most effective presentations are those that follow an agreed format but where the rehearsed structure is not apparent to the listener. Working from a prepared format will help you stay on track, not forget any key points and have a message that is consistent with the other spokespeople.
Always Focus On Communicating A Few Key Messages
It is better to make a few points clearly than to confuse the presentation with a large spectrum of information. Make one point at a time without digressing from the issue.
Test To Determine Knowledge
Then adjust your pitch to the level of awareness the press person or analyst has. Cover your information, but do it in a way that answers the questions and explains all areas clearly.
PR Work With Media And Analysts Is Like Selling
You have to determine the benefits of your product, overcome objections and answer all questions well. A "sale" is gaining the attention and interest of the press or analyst and building an ongoing relationship.
Never Assume The Editor Has Any Prior Knowledge -- Ask
Never assume the editor knows anything about your company, products or the industry. Ask the editor or analyst about their background so that you can effectively explain the market and product. Never assume your listener has the same perspectives you do. This means that all key logical connections need to be reinforced and all key terms defined before they are used to make a point in a presentation.
Continue To Ask The Editor Questions Throughout The Meeting To Determine His Level Of Understanding
By asking the editor or analyst questions throughout the meeting, you will quickly determine if he or she understands what you are presenting. If the editor does not understand, you must be sensitive to their feeling foolish; mention that you or others has a particularly hard time with this concept and you would like to explain it in more detail. If the listener appears to understand, you can continue with your presentation at the same speed.
Provide A Context In Which To View The Product/Service
Most editors will have a prepared list of questions to ask and may not be receptive to your giving them an overview. It is absolutely essential to explain the "big picture," a context in which to view more specific information. Editors are more likely to remember product/service information if they can see it in a broader marketing concept or industry direction. This will also position you as being more strategic or "visionary" and reinforce your presentation. The most effective presentations follow an "inverted pyramid" format: that is, make the point, then build to it from the largest issue first, gradually narrowing the argument until the point is the only logical solution.
Defer To The Proper Spokesperson On Unfamiliar Topics
Never comment on unfamiliar subjects; defer to the proper spokespeople. In the beginning of the interview you should tell the editor about your background and areas of expertise. If an editor asks a question unrelated to your experience, you can politely remind them that you work mainly with the marketing programs and would be more than happy to refer them to the proper person.
Be Prepared For Possible Objections
Objections should always be addressed during the meeting. If they are ignored, this will only suggest to the editor or analyst that you don't have an answer and encourage him to dwell on the subject. When an objection is raised, ask the editor to explain in more detail. This will give you a better understanding of what problem you are really addressing.
Use Visual Aids To Make A Point Whenever Possible
People are more likely to remember a point if it is both spoken and reinforced visually. The more technical or complex the issue, the more important diagrams become. Make sure your visuals tie to your "script." Using prepared diagrams appears less personal and more relaxed. Draw the diagram on a sheet of paper that you can give to the editor as a leave-behind.
Marketing Strategies Should Be Supported By Providing Specific Examples Of Programs Or Activities
Positive feedback from program participants should be cited whenever possible. Materials related to a program, such as a training program or support materials, should be shown earlier.
Avoid The Use Of Acronyms Whenever Possible
Acronyms can be very numbing to the listener if they do not know what they stand for or if too many are used in one sentence. To keep the presentation understandable, avoid them as much as possible.
Never Comment On Your Competitors And Their Products Unless Specifically Asked. Keep All Competitive Comments Positive
If you are asked about competitors, it is best to acknowledge who they are with consistent answers. Identifying competitors, when done properly, will add credibility to marketing strategy. If you are not familiar with a competitive company or product, acknowledge the main differences in the products, keeping all comments positive. Never be caught saying anything derogatory about a competitor; it can be quoted out of context and appear very unprofessional.
Encourage Follow-Up Activities Or Meetings. If You Indicate You Will Call An Editor, Make Sure You Do Or Inform Eiler
We call each editor or analyst following the meeting. Whenever possible, we or the spokesperson should encourage additional follow-up telephone calls, meetings and/or mailing of materials. This can be done simply by indicating you have some materials the editor should see or another person from the company they should meet. By doing this, you will continue to build a relationship with the editor and the company will remain fresh in their mind. Most importantly -- never promise something you can't deliver.
Use Real Case Examples Whenever Possible
The best way to prove any point is by citing real business examples. When doing this, you should mention as many specific benefits that the user could attribute to using the product as possible. Follow product feature statements with the end-user benefits – always relate product features and functionality to end-user benefits. It gives the product more value and helps the listener understand features.
Nothing Is Off The Record
You should assume that anything discussed with an editor or analyst is "on the record" and is currently or soon to become public knowledge. If you want something off the record, say so and get an agreement before you provide the information.
Review Background Information
Review available background information about the editor or your audience in advance of each meeting.
Be honest. You needn't "tell all" but you must never intentionally mislead.
Demonstrate knowledge of the press and analysts and their media or research firms.
Keep in mind that editors will speak with other sources about your company, product and industry.
Develop an attitude of working with the press and analysts on a long term basis.
Respect and acknowledge your competition. Do not denigrate.
Look for opportunities to reinforce your key messages.
Answer questions briefly but make your point. Waiting for a follow-up question will allow you to see where the listener's thinking is going.
Keep track of whether the listener continues to be interested and whether he/she is understanding your point.
Ad lib, relax and be comfortable.
Don't exaggerate or make unfounded predictions -- you'll be held to your statement in the future.
Don't give stories or new announcements away before their time.
Don't talk "off the record".
Don't assume your listener always makes obvious connections which are critical to the logic of your message.
Don't look for "ink". The goal is to create understanding of your position and recognition of your successes.
Don't be afraid to say "I don't know", "I'll find out", "We can't comment on that at this time".
Don't use unnecessary clichés or superlatives. Your listeners are interested in factual information.
National Investor Relations Institute Regular Member Code Of Ethics
As a member of the National Investor Relations Institute, I will:
Maintain my integrity and credibility by practicing investor relations in accordance with the highest legal and ethical standards.
Avoid even the appearance of professional impropriety in the conduct of my investor relations responsibilities.
Recognize that the integrity of the capital markets is based on transparency of credible financial and non-financial corporate information, and will to the best of my ability and knowledge work to ensure that my company or client fully and fairly discloses this important information.
Provide analysts, institutional and individual investors and the media fair access to corporate information.
Honor my obligation to serve the interest of shareholders and other stakeholders.
Discharge my responsibilities completely and competently by keeping myself abreast of the affairs of my company or client as well as the laws and regulations affecting the practice of investor relations.
Maintain the confidentiality of information acquired in the course of my work for my company or client company.
Not use confidential information acquired in the course of my work for my personal advantage nor for the advantage of related parties.
Exercise independent professional judgment in the conduct of my duties and responsibilities on behalf of my company or client.
Avoid any professional/business relationships that might affect, or be perceived to potentially affect, my ethical practice of investor relations.
Report to appropriate company authorities if I suspect or recognize fraudulent or illegal acts within the company.
Represent myself in a reputable and dignified manner that reflects the professional stature of investor relations.