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Handcrafted PR: When quality trumps quantity

It’s easy to push buttons. It’s hard to craft meaningful stories.

At Altitude Marketing, we call those stories “handcrafted PR.” It’s a more thoughtful, manual approach to public relations that raises visibility and drives leads.

Non-value-add and lack of focus has no place in business, especially when it comes to spending limited marketing resources as wisely as possible. In our digitally overcharged world, public relations has become increasingly subjected to automation, mechanization, digitization and impersonal email blasts thinly veiled to look like they’re customized.

The net result is a lot of wasted time, effort and money.

PR is about spreading the word. Handcrafted implies a creative approach. It’s artful. It means nothing is wasted – not time, not effort, not dollars.

The goal of PR today should be to land the bigger, meatier, feature articles that get the phone to ring, drive traffic to your website or get people to walk in the door.

Press release posts and product announcement blurbs in the back of the book are nice and may help search engine optimization, but ultimately you want your PR efforts to deliver prestige and leads.

In recent discussions with a prospect, the CEO wanted to know if we could guarantee as many placements as his current firm provided. He showed us pages of lists, charts of media outlets and line listings of recent placements.

The more traditional PR approach says get as many placements as you can. Some argue any posting with a link is good for SEO benefits.

The fact is that a posting that doesn’t influence or motivate the audience to act is useless.

It’s also a fact that Google places a quality score on back-links so a link-back from a site that has little to do with your company won’t carry much SEO weight.

The handcrafted approach says land placements that will drive the most leads. There is more value in pitching and landing a single, feature story in a top prospect publication than a dozen one-line placements in the back of a publication that isn’t even a tangential focus of your sales efforts.

Similarly, you’re better off with one, meaty, guest-authored, featured post on a focused blog with a lot of audience engagement than landing a dozen placements in outlets that have little-to-no interest in your product or service.

The prospect then asked us about how much activity we would generate. He shared a sample monthly report from his existing PR team.

The 24 pages of “activity” for the month included two placements – one of which was in a nontarget market, little trafficked blog.

The report – nicely laid out, stylized and copy edited – included copies of emails, time logs and notes such as “left voice message.” It must have taken at least two hours to prepare.

The handcrafted PR approach focuses on results – what’s been accomplished to move the business forward. Those 24 pages could have been summarized in one page – what relevant placements were landed, what’s hot/expected next and what’s needed in the coming month. Don’t spend a chunk of your monthly PR budget on a report validating what was done.

Focus on telling the story, not pushing a press release.

If you want success in PR today, you need to be a good storyteller and be able to show why a company’s particular product, service or philosophy is of interest to the editor or writer.

It’s part art and part science. It’s the art part that’s at the core of the handcrafted approach.

According to Google’s own support page – and this is the science part – the best way to get other sites to create relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content.

The handcrafted approach recognizes that editors are busy. Waste their time once, they’ll remember, won’t respond to your emails or calls and most certainly won’t take your pitch seriously.

First, make sure you are pitching the right outlets and the right person. Next, make their job easy by writing a story they’d want to write themselves if they had the time. Give them the problem, solution, results. Provide the insight, expert and the pull quote.

It must be well written and on target. Handcraft the story. Write it to the audience based on a case study, with proof points told from the perspective of your client.

Package it up in a tone that’s reflective of the outlet. Pitch it to the top publication where you are seeking to land coverage. Offer to cut or add word count.

This leads to high quality placements – and good long-term relationships.

The handcrafted approach also recognizes that bloggers have a veracious appetite for fresh content, so if the outlet you targeted for a particular piece doesn’t bite, move on.

Whether the piece gets picked up or not, excerpt it in your own company e-newsletter. Chunk it into 30 tweets and six blog posts. Spin it into awards submission.

Use award nominations and wins as fodder in your pitch to get speaking engagements. Use the speaking engagements as fodder in your e-newsletter and as news shorts on your website.

This adds credibility and enhances your resume so the next time you pitch a story to a leading outlet, you are viewed as a thought leader and have an even greater chance of landing the story.

It’s not easy to take this approach, but it can be highly effective.

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