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4 Vital Keys to a Successful Publicity Campaign - 4/23/2013 -

Whether marketing a special event, annual conference, new publication launch, or political initiative, here are several good strategies to set you up for success.

By Russell Trahan

Every year, countless associations from a variety of industries launch national publicity campaigns. More often than not, there are a few critical missteps made at the outset that impede their momentum and have a direct impact on their PR return on investment. Public relations endeavors are an essential component to increasing your associationís visibility and name-awareness, but without proper preparedness and implementation, your visions of success can prove to be ill-fated pipe dreams.

Thankfully, there are a number of actions you can take to safeguard your association from PR pitfalls and get the most out of your fledgling publicity campaign. These strategies are applicable to all types of campaigns ó everything from the launch of a new publication to the promotion of a special event, annual conference or a key initiative or political activity your association is supporting.

1. Start sooner than later.

A common misconception held by newcomers to the public relations realm is that the appropriate start date is when the final touches have been put on a new product or location. This is typically the initial obstacle that has many professionals sputtering out of the gate: Your PR campaign should begin at least four to six months in advance of your anticipated launch. Properly executed publicity involves creating a snowball-effect by ever-increasing mentions and features across a wealth of publications and media; by the time many organizations feel they are ready to proceed with PR, their window of opportunity has already begun to close.

2. Appoint an organization spokesperson.

The decision to finally pull the trigger on an organization-wide public relations campaign is enough to create a palpable buzz around the office. The prospect of increased sales numbers and an expanded member and client base as the result of increased visibility will generate excitement among your employees and coworkers, but frequently lost amid the enthusiasm is the responsibility to delegate a media spokesperson. Publicity by committee leads to confusion, dragging feet, and ultimately, missed opportunities. Nominate a spokesperson to handle all public relations activity.

3. Donít be afraid to stretch your message.

Thereís a tendency in the business arena to adopt a form of organizational tunnel vision; you become so close to your skills and knowledge that itís virtually impossible to view things from a third-party perspective. As a result of this myopic mindset, many potentially lucrative opportunities fall to the wayside or are ignored entirely; cast aside because they donít fit into the specific schema youíve formed about the nature of your association or industry and your expertise.

Stretching your topic to apply to whatís circulating in the news is a fundamental facet to a profitable campaign. Never decline a publicity opportunity because of a perceived lack of expertise on a topic; broaden your message to apply to avenues you may have previously overlooked.

4. Stir the pot with unique perspectives and controversy.

Nothing whets the mediaís appetite quite like a good, old-fashioned controversy. This does not mean to delve into the gutters of Kardashian-inspired, tabloidian gossip, but providing a unique counterpoint to commonly held beliefs or opinions is a terrific way to produce attention and awareness for your associationís publicity campaigns. A well-researched, informed argument is a flashing, neon-sign to journalists seeking to provide both sides of an issue. Do not shy away from ruffling feathers because nothing builds notoriety like controversy.

Make no mistake about it, a carefully crafted and properly executed publicity strategy will enhance your associationís profile and provide a boon to your organizational efforts. By embarking on a PR campaign with clearly defined goals and an action plan, youíre positioning your association to enjoy a good return on its efforts.

Russell Trahan is president of PR/PR, a boutique public relations agency specializing in positioning organizations in front of their target audiences in print and online.


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