How to Win at Public Relations

Five Rules for Navigating the Brave New Age of PR

A funny thing happened on the way to the Internet of Things.

The world changed.

We can feel it in the way marketing is conducted. And sense it in how public relations campaigns are shaped.

We can see it in our social feeds.

The firewall has shifted beneath our feet and as PR and marketing professionals, we find ourselves searching for solid ground; principles to guide our passage to integrated campaigns that deliver results and make our customers (and bosses) happy.

The tactics we’ve relied on for decades still work, but must be tweaked to succeed. Press releases, for example, while still effective, must now be under 200 words to be read (more on that below) by anyone and must be part of a holistic strategy to connect with your customers everywhere they intersect with your brand.

If that sounds out-of-reach or overwhelming, OBI Creative is here to demystify PR success and help you craft effective campaigns.

Just as we walked through the value of grounding your marketing efforts in research and strategy over the past few months, today we’re launching a new quarter of content around strategic communications that will include actionable insights on critical areas of public relations and social media. Here’s a taste of what you can expect in the weeks ahead:

  • The PESO Model — What it is and how it helps your brand.
  • The Future of PR An interview with Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc. and Spin Sucks founder.
  • Creating Social Content — Why a combination of paid and organic works.
  • Influencer Marketing  How to build the right connections for your brand.


There’s a cache of valuable content coming your way, starting with five rules that walk you through winning at PR this year, one step at a time.


5 Rules for Navigating the Brave New World of PR

PR Rule #1: Be Selective.

In relation to a marketing or PR strategy, being selective just means making an informed and measured decision about which strategies and tactics you’ll invest your time and resources in and which ones you won’t.

Your baseline for deciding what to keep and what to pitch should be effectiveness. Find that baseline by asking questions like:

  • Which communication channel generates the most engagement?
  • What marketing channel is the most profitable?
  • Which PR strategy is driving the most awareness or mentions?


Double down on what works, even if what works isn’t necessarily what’s ‘new.’

As it has in retail, marketing, medicine and just about every area of life (online dating, anyone?) technology has prompted much change in the PR industry over the last decade. Technology has allowed us to go directly to consumers without passing through members of the media. Blogs, social media and distribution of releases online that are then picked up by search engines have redefined the PR professional’s role.

This has led to a general attitude that ‘old’ is bad and ‘new’ is better, but not everything that has worked in the past for PR has to be ditched to embrace the strategies and tactics that are working today.

Instead of blindly blotting out the old way of doing things, be selective.


PR Rule #2: Think Like a Startup (No Matter What Size You Are)

This sentiment can apply to many areas of life. Public relations is no exception.

The rapid pace of change in the PR industry has led to confusion over who should perform PR-related activities. For example, if you determine that video profiles of the sales team would help engage prospects and drive leads, do you jump in and produce them or do you wait for marketing, sales or an outside agency to get involved?

Making an impact requires lightning fast responsiveness.

If you have an idea that can be backed up by industry trends, compelling data and your own gut, don’t wait for the ‘appropriate’ person to green light it. Tackle the challenge yourself today. If you succeed, you’ll have clout to build on for future efforts.


PR Rule #3: Get Up Close and Personal with the PESO Model

If you’ve only ever thought of public relations as a tool for generating awareness about your products and services or corporate maneuvers, you’re missing a whole side of profitability and justification. PR is a great sales tool too.

The key in developing public relations campaigns that drive marketing and sales results is following the PESO model and tracking a few key metrics.

First things first, what is this PESO model? Here are the highlights:


Image courtesy of Spin Sucks.


  • The PESO model merges four types of media — Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned.

  • Paid Media. Paid media is social media advertising, sponsored content and email marketing that you pay to place as part of your PR campaign.

  • Earned Media. Earned media is what you think of as traditional PR; getting your information printed in newspapers, trade pubs, on the radio, as part of the local or national news broadcast.

  • Shared Media. Think of this one as social media. It’s all the social channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.) you use to promote your brand to the public. The potential for content about your business to go viral on social media is huge; it’s not just you or your PR agency sharing information about your brand; others can get in on the action and massively expand your reach through social media.
  • Owned Media. This is original content. Articles, blog posts, infographics, videos, and other pieces you create to connect with your customers and move them through the sales funnel.


“Where we really see the PESO model shine is in its ability to integrate the four types of media,” says Ann Pedersen, Strategic Communications Director for OBI Creative. “Things like influencer engagement, partnerships, loyalty programs and more all have a place in the PESO model, which makes it incredibly inclusive, relevant and effective for plotting out an integrated marketing and PR campaign.”


When you’re using the PESO model consistently and correctly, it can help you become a thought leader — both in your customers’ and prospects’ eyes and in the eyes of Google as well, which could lead to those elusive top ranked search results we’re all working so hard to snag.


PR Rule #4: Keep Your Copy (and News Releases) Short and Sweet

One question we see asked a lot is about how to write a press release that will actually be read. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or tackling your first PR opportunity, keeping your news releases short and informative is the best way to make an impact.

Did you know that journalists receive, on average, 50 or more press releases per week? That makes the task of getting yours read harder. You might as well be crafting a killer college application essay for an Ivy League university. That’s the type of competition you’re up against.

Thankfully, there are a few tips you can follow to help your release cut through the clutter.

  • Keep it to 200 words or less. A study by Greentarget found that 70 percent of journalists spend under a minute reading a release. This means that if your release is 300, 500 or 800 words or more, only 3 out of every 10 reporters are going to read it.

  • Know your competition. Over 20 percent of journalists receive 100+ press releases per week. Despite this volume, most releases tend to be around 600 words or more. Assume your competition is writing news releases that are too long. Stand out with short releases that get your main point across quickly.


PR Rule #5: Keep an Open Mind

Beyond advertising, getting the word out about your products and services requires developing a specific mindset. You must be:

  • Open to change. Remember the Jim Carrey movie, Yes Man? Enough said.

  • Aware of social media and technology trends and how they affect both your business and your customers. Do your customers use Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to chat with friends and family? Would they be open to chatting with you that way? These channels could be an effective way for your business to offer 24-hour customer service.

  • Thinking like a client. Treat your own business as if it were one of your clients or customers. What does your business need to grow awareness, prospects, leads and engagement? Invest in the talent, time and resources you need to generate results.

  • Collaborative. One area you do want to let go of is the old, ‘silo’ approach to PR and marketing. Sales and communications as well as marketing and advertising are more effective when communicators and marketers work together on projects. Think of yourselves not as two separate teams competing against each other for supreme value in the eyes of the board or executive suite, but rather as two distinct teams complementing each other on your quest to become really, really good at delighting your customers.

  • Willing to make an investment in an integrated PR, advertising and communications marketing strategy. Do it yourself or hire a talented firm to do it for you.

  • Comfortable with failure.


When you’re striving for greatness, sometimes you’re going to miss the mark. That’s okay. Our mistakes can be our best teachers when we’re willing to learn from them. Debrief on all of your campaigns. Take note of what worked and what didn’t and take time to ask the hard questions about why it didn’t work. What you discover may lead to your most successful campaign yet.

Want more PR insight and advice? Here are 9 more tips to help you succeed at PR.

Need help?

Does the idea of developing, executing or refining your PR or communications approach alone cause you to break out in hives? Take a deep breath and call OBI Creative. Our strategic communications team knows how to help you create a winning PR strategy.

Connect with us today to discuss your current challenge or next opportunity!


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